The Big Con

In the sermon I'd like to explore Satan's tactics because even now today he continues his master con, his biggest con of all time, which is the fact that man does not need God. Man does not need God. That's ultimately what Satan is selling – that man doesn't need God, man doesn't need this overall creator, this master of the universe, this loving Father. Mankind doesn't need that. That's the ultimate con that Satan is still trying to sell and has sold since the beginning of time. 

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Victor Lustig was renowned as the man who sold the Eiffel Tower.  He was born in Bohemia, but he later moved to Paris where he was able to con people on his frequent journeys between Paris and New York.  His first con was to show people a device that could print $100 bills.  The only problem, he would tell them was that it would only print one bill every six hours.  Many people paid him enormous amounts of money, usually in excess of $30,000 for this particular device that he so-called created.  In fact, the device contained two real hidden $100 bills.  Once they were spat out by the machine, it would only produce blank paper after that.  By the time the buyers discovered this, Lustig was long gone with all of their money. 

In 1925, as France was recovering from the war, the upkeep of the Eiffel Tower was a very unbearable expense for the city of Paris.  When Lustig read about this in the newspaper, he came up with his most brilliant idea.  After forging some government credentials he invited six scrap metal dealers to a secret meeting being held in a hotel.  He explained that the city could not afford to keep the tower and that they had to sell it for scrap.  He told them the secrecy of the meeting and all future dealings was due to the fact that the public would become very upset at the idea of the city of Paris removing and scraping the Eiffel Tower.  While it seemed implausible at the time that the tower was built, it was actually only designed to be a temporary structure.  And so this happened just eighteen years after the original date for the removal of the tower.  Lustig took the dealers in a limousine to tour the tower and one particular scrap metal dealer by the name of Andre Poisson was convinced that this deal was legitimate and he handed over much of his money.  When he realized he had been conned, he was too embarrassed to tell the police and Lustig escaped with his money.  One month later he returned to Paris to try the whole scam again.  This time it was reported to the police, but Lustig was actually able to escape. 

At one point Lustig convinced Al Capone to invest some $50,000 with him.  He stored the money in a vault and returned it two months later stating that the deal had fallen through.  Al Capone was so impressed by Lustig's honesty that he gave him $5,000 for his efforts. 

In 1934, Lustig was found guilty of counterfeiting.  He pled guilty and was sentenced to twenty years in Alcatraz.  In 1947, he died of pneumonia while he was jailed in Springfield, MO. 

A con man is a person who intentionally misleads another person usually for some sort of financial gain.  The Bible, though, contains several stories of con men and various trickeries that have taken place.  You might recall the story of Samson and Delilah.  Maybe you will think of the story of Laban as it relates to Jacob and him trying to marry one of Laban's daughters.  Various situations that Paul dealt with – he encountered some unique situations during his travels.  Then there's the ultimate con of the end time beast that the book of Revelation and other places talked about, and the false prophet. 

Go with me if you will over to the book of 1 Peter.  Let's go to 1 Peter, chapter 5.  Here Peter makes a very clear and concise statement in verse 8.  He says:

1 Peter:5:8 - Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

Satan is playing a con on mankind.  Satan's not in it for the fun of it.  He's in it for the lasting demise that is influenced to play out on humans.  He wants nothing short of failure for all of mankind.  That's Satan's ultimate goal.  He wants all of us to fail and down the road he wants eventually for all of mankind to fail.  He wants to break apart this relationship that God yearns for and desires to have with mankind.  Satan simply wants mankind not to be members of God's family.  He wants to break that relationship and cause it not to happen. 

Go with me back a bit to the book of 2 Corinthians.  2 Corinthians chapter 11.  We see how Satan is the master con man.  He's been doing it since the very beginning, since he first rejected God and God's authority and God's structure.  2 Corinthians:11:3.  Paul writes this.

2 Corinthians:11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Paul here was concerned for the church at Corinth and he did not want the church there to become deceived.  He didn't want them to be conned by Satan.  He didn't want them to end up drifting off and doing their own thing.  He brings up Eve.  Satan didn't deceive Eve with openness and honesty.  That's not how he deceived Eve, was it?  He didn't lay all the cards out on the table and say, “Okay, Eve, this is exactly how it is, you know, God is absolutely telling the truth, but there's this other way.”  That's not what Satan did, was it?  He did not deceive Eve with openness and honesty.  Barnes states the word craftiness here in verse 3, if you have a New King James Bible, where Paul says   lest somehow, I fear, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness ...   The word craftiness here implies shrewdness or a cunning or some sort of cunning craft that was utilized.  This is how Satan operates.  It's with slyness.  It's this cunning approach.  It's not out in the open, it's not full of honesty.  It's in the trees, it's in the bushes, it's hidden, it's secret.  It's being a con man. 

Today in the sermon I'd like to explore Satan's tactics because even now today he continues his master con, his biggest con of all time, which is the fact that man does not need God.  Man does not need God.  That's ultimately what Satan is selling – that man doesn't need God, man doesn't need this overall creator, this master of the universe, this loving Father.  Mankind doesn't need that.  That's the ultimate con that Satan is still trying to sell and has sold since the beginning of time. 

Satan began his big con with mankind back in Genesis chapter 3 if you'll go back there with me.  He began it by talking to Eve back in the garden of Eden.  If we go back to the story, the two trees back here, Genesis chapter 3, we read about the first sin that takes place here that is recorded for us.

Genesis:3:1 - Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the earth'?"  Vs. 2 - And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;  Vs. 3 - but of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' "   V. 4 - Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.  Vs. 5 - For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."  Vs. 6 – And so when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

This is part of Satan's tactics.  He tried it out.  Hetest-drove it if you want to say it that way.  He test-drove it here with Eve and it worked and he was successful and he has been doing the same thing ever since.  Notice again in verse 6 that it was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes and that there was a desire there for knowledge that Satan was throwing out.  These three are Satan's main tactics.  All of his trickery, his big con, involves one or more of these three things.  Eve internalized that deception.  She thought about it, she contemplated it.  She compared it back with God's command.  We know what God's command was.  If you go back one chapter to chapter 2 and verse 17, God was very clear.

Genesis:2:17 - But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die."

It wasn't just something that God said, “Okay, there's this tree.  Don't eat of it.”  And maybe Eve was daydreaming and maybe she didn't hear Him.  We know that's not the case because she told the serpent exactly what the command was.  “God said, don't eat of this tree.”  So it wasn't that Eve just allowed God's words to kind of go in one ear and out the other and that she didn't internalize it.  She knew what the command was.  She heard it, she understood it, there was no question in her mind because she was able to tell the serpent back what that command was.  Eve here is taken in by the big con of Satan.  Eve was taken in by the con of Satan, but not Adam.  Adam's a little different.  They both sinned, but scripture tells us that Adam wasn't deceived, only Eve.  How is that possible?  How is that possible?  How is it possible that Eve was deceived and sinned, Adam wasn't deceived in the same way she was, but yet he still sinned?  If you think about that for a few minutes we'll come back and answer that question here in just a bit. 

Let's go forward in the meantime, let's go up to the book of Galatians.  Galatians chapter 6 and I'd like to read verse 7.  Let's define a few terms here as far as what Satan does with his big con.  Galatians:6:7, Paul writes, he says:

Galatians:6:7 - Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

The word deceived here in the Greek is planao.  Planao.  It means to roam from the truth or to simply go astray.  To roam from the truth or go astray.  One way to be deceived is to literally move away from the truth.  It's a voluntary action.  We can sit here today, we can go home tonight and we can choose to voluntarily move away from the truth.  That would be this Greek word that is translated for us in our English Bibles as the word deceived , to voluntarily move away, to voluntarily go astray.  We have that choice.  We have that choice each and every day.  We can go home, we can wake up the next morning and say, “No thanks.  I don't want to go to church.  I want to go back to eating pork and shrimp and all that stuff and I want to lie and cheat and work my way to the top – you know, at the top of my career ladder.  Those are the things I want.”  And we can voluntarily move away from God's truth.  This is the Greek word, planao.  Regardless of the reason, Satan has these tactics and he utilizes situations that we come up with, situations that we are involved with in life.  And we are then presented with the choice:  do we grab hold of that and allow ourselves to be deceived and allow ourselves to voluntarily move away from the truth, move away from God? 

Most of the words in the Bible that are translated deceived are this Greek word, planao, again simply to mean to move away from the truth, this voluntary action of moving away.  So is this what Eve did?  Going back to Genesis 3, is this what Eve did?  Did Eve just voluntarily move away from the truth?  Actually it wasn't. 

Let's go over to 1 Timothy.  Let's table Eve for a minute, let's go look at Adam.  1 Timothy chapter 2.  Paul here tells us a bit about Adam and Eve and the deception that they fell into, the sin that resulted.  1 Timothy 2 and verse 14.  Well, let's pick it up in verse 13.

1 Timothy:2:13 - For Adam was formed first, then Eve.  Vs. 14 - And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

The Greek word here for deceived is the word apatao.  Apatao.  It means to cheat or to beguile.  It means to trick someone into doing something.  To trick someone into doing something.  This is the Greek word here that Paul uses.  So Adam was not tricked into sinning, he did it voluntarily.  He did it voluntarily.  They both ended up sinning - absolutely they both sinned.  God's instruction was clear, “Don't eat of this.”  They both symbolically chomped away and made their bellies fat, you might say.  They both broke God's commandments.  They both sinned.  One translation renders 1 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 14 and says Adam was not tricked .  The Contemporary English Version says,  Adam was not fooled.  The Revised Version says,  Adam was not tricked into doing something.

Satan has three tactics to his big con.  He can trick you to sin or he can trick someone else close to you to sin knowing then that you will follow.  And that's exactly what he did with Eve and Adam.  He tricked Eve into sinning hoping that Adam then would follow her.  And that's exactly what happened and they both ended up sinning.  Either way, the sin that results creates a wall or creates a separation between that person, that individual, and their God. 

So we are going to look a little bit more closely at these tactics that Satan throws at us.  Let's go forward to the book of 1 John back toward the back of the Bible.  1 John chapter 2.  1 John 2 and beginning here in verse 15.  We will read verses 15, 16 and 17.

1 John:2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.   Vs. 16 - For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.   Vs. 17 - And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

He who changes, he who transforms – this is the ultimate daily goal for each of us, isn't it?  We all want to be changing to becoming more like God.  We each want to be transforming.  We take that commitment at baptism, we bury the old man or the old woman and it's a daily struggle to keep that person buried, keep that person down as we continue to resist our own self.  We grow in Godly character.  We begin to have that mindset that God wants us to have.  These tactics, though, of Satan are given for us here in verse 16.  These are the tactics that Satan uses so that we don't grow, so that we don't try to transform, so we don't desire to change to become more Godly. 

Let's look a little bit deeper here in verse 16.  These are the three tactics that Satan uses.  These are the three that he used with Adam and Eve.  We'll see here in a little bit that these are the same three that he used with Jesus Christ when he tempted Christ.  And these are the same three that he continues to use on mankind down through time. 

The first item that is mentioned here in verse 16 is the lust of the flesh.  These are temptations that reside in the flesh as opposed to with the flesh.  The key concept you can think of here regarding the lusts of the flesh is that this is physical gratification.  Physical gratification is what lust of the flesh is.  It usually involves physical possessions, having the latest, having the greatest, desiring those physical possessions.  It's the things you look at in your life that give you pleasure.  What is it in your life that gives you pleasure?  If it's something physical or if it's something tangible or if it's something you wear or something you drive, or something you live in or some other physical possession, then this is an area that Satan is trying to get at you.  Lust of the flesh, though – again think of physical gratification – the fancy possessions, the clothing, the jewelry, the house, the car – anything that is pleasing to your eyes, anything that is pleasing to you.  Again, it's this physical gratification. 

The second item here is the lust of the eyes.  This is where you're satisfied with contemplating.  You're satisfied with contemplating.  This tactic seeks mental gratification.  So lust of the flesh is the physical gratification, lust of the eyes is the mental gratification.  It's all up in your mind.  It involves the heavy use of imagination.  It's things you dream about.  It's the over-the-top dreams that maybe you have:  the career advancement, the big pay raise, winning the lottery and you end up dwelling on those things.  Again, it's things you think about.  This is where coveting lives.  This is partially why coveting is so wrong because we end up dwelling on that.  We end up thinking about that and that ends up consuming our time. There is little physical action here, but there is lots of mental thoughts and there's lots of human reasoning and human logic as far as why that is good for me.  And we put ourselves in situations and we end up running that situation through and “Aw, look at how cool this would be!”  Again, lust of the eyes is that mental gratification, it's the imagination, things you dream about. 

The third thing that is mentioned by John here in 1 John 2 is the pride of life.  The pride of life.  This is a vain assurance in your own stability or your own resources of something here on this earth.  It's a vain assurance in your own resources or in your own stability.  It involves things like power and control and prestige.  Your view is that people look to you as something great – whether or not you truly are great.  Regardless of what job you have, if you think that people look to you as a knowledgeable source at the top or “Oh, look how great I am and people should come to me”, then it becomes about the ego.  And that's what pride of life is about.  It's that self pride.  It's 'the greatness of me'.  That's the pride of life.  The pride of life results in the lack of trust with God because you end up seeking to know more than God.  You end up seeking to be greater than God. 

These three things - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life - they all come in a variety of forms.  But if we break down any temptation and if we break down any challenge, we can drive all of them back to one of these three and these are Satan's tactics.  They just come in different boxes.  They come with different colored bows.  They come with different wrapping paper on them.  But at the root, these are the three things that Satan throws at mankind.  He did it with Eve and he's done it down through the pages of history.  

So let's think back for a minute to Genesis chapter 3.  Let's go back to the story of Adam and Eve back in the garden.  What were the three things that Eve said that this fruit was good for?  She said it was good for food.  Good for food.  This is that physical gratification.  It's something tangible, it's something physical and she was looking for something physical to satisfy her.  That's the lust of the flesh.  She also said that it was pleasant to the eyes.  The eyes can't touch something physically, but the eyes are kind of the window to our mind and allows us to think about things and ponder things and imagine things.  She was able to look at that fruit, then, and have this feel good emotion about eating that fruit.  That's the lust of the eyes.  The third thing, then, that she mentioned was that it was desirable for knowledge.  It was desirable for knowledge.  That's the pride of life, the desire to know more than God.  It's the desire to be God, perhaps even.  Satan doesn't change.  He continues to be sly.  He continues to be subtle and he alters how these three tactics are packaged. 

Go back with me to the book of Matthew.  Let's look and see – Matthew chapter 4 – let's go back to the time when Satan was able to tempt Christ and let's see that he used the same tactics actually on Christ.  Again, packaged slightly different, but at the root the same three things were thrown at Christ.  Matthew chapter 4 and in verse 1, just to pick up the context here. 

Matthew:4:1 - Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  Vs. 2 - And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry.

As a side note, I think it is interesting that Matthew here records that Christ was hungry.  I think if any of us fasted forty days and forty nights we, no doubt, would be hungry, but anyway Matthew records for us that He was obviously hungry. 

Vs. 3 - Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread."   “ Jesus, You are seeking physical gratification.  You know, You are hungry.  You have been fasting for forty days and forty nights.  Obviously Your stomach is growling.  Obviously You need something to put into Your body.  You are hungry.  You need food.  You know, snap Your fingers and cause these stones to be made bread so You can have that physical gratification.”  Remember what the lust of the flesh is.  It's that physical gratification and here Satan is coming at Christ with a temptation to satisfy Himself physically.  “Make Yourself some bread.  Snap Your fingers.  You know, let the desserts reign down from heaven.” 

Vs. 5 - Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,  Vs. 6 – and he said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER YOU, and, IN THEIR HANDS THEY SHALL BEAR YOU UP, LEST YOU DASH YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' "   Here Satan is tempting Jesus with being above God's authority.  He's tempting Jesus with trying to control what God would do.  He's trying to force the control of a situation of God the Father, dictating perhaps even what God would do.  “Throw yourself down and Your Father will have to save You.  You be the one that's in charge.  You control what Your Father does.  You be the one to dictate what He does.”  This is the pride of life that you're above God, you're equal if not greater than God and you can control what happens. 

Vs. 8 - Again, the devil took Him up to an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  Vs. 9 - And he said to Him, "All these things I will give to You if You will fall down and worship me."  Now he moves into His mind.  He begins to play these mental games with Jesus Christ.  This is the actual lust of the eyes.  “Think about how great You would be.  Let me show You all these mountains - all these kingdoms - and You begin to sit there and think for a minute how great it would be and how awesome it would be to rule all of this.”  Satan tries to get Jesus Christ to lock into His imagination and start dreaming about this power and dreaming about how cool this would be. 

Four thousand years and the tactics never changed up to this point.  It's the same basic process that Satan has.  You try one and if it's not successful, you move on to the next.  And if that one's not successful, you move on to the third.  And  you keep hitting, you keep putting different bows on it, you keep wrapping it differently, but Satan wants one of these to eventually stick. 

Let's go forward a few chapters to Matthew chapter 13.  Here Jesus Christ ends up talking about these tactics to us giving us a little more insight.  Matthew 13.  This was a parable that was mentioned in the sermonette.  I want to go through and read through this again. 

Matthew:13:3 - Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: "Behold, a sower went out to sow.  Vs. 4 - And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.  Vs. 5 - Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth.    Vs. 6 - But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.   Vs. 7 - And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.   Vs. 8 – But others fell on good ground and they yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.   Vs. 9 - He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"

Have you ever wondered why not all the seed takes?  Have you ever wondered that?  Why does this parable even apply?  Why is it that God just doesn't throw out seed and it all lands on fertile ground and it all produces this wonderful crop?  Right?  You know, luscious, delicious fruit, vegetables whatever it is.  Why is the parable not that way?  Why is the church not millions and millions of people?  Why isn't morality at its highest?  Why isn't marriage sacred?  Why are families not strong and safe and secure?  It's simply because Satan wants all of it to fail.  He wants all of it to fail.  This is, again, the con that Satan is running.  He wants society to think that they have no need for God.  'There's no need for God' is what Satan is selling.  You can do it on your own.  And actually you can probably do it better.  Huh.  You are smart.  You can make your own decisions.  You are successful in this life.  You can do it.  Lean on your own understanding.  You have what it takes.  If you think hard enough, you can be successful.  After all, you got great grades in school, right? 

Well, let's drop down to the middle part of this chapter here and see what Christ has to say about this particular parable.

Vs. 18 - “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:   Vs. 19 - When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away that which was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.  This is the lesson of the eyes.  This is the emotion.  This is that mental game.  This is that idea that we're in it, we're thinking about and it we end up getting wrapped up in our mind. 

Vs. 20 - But he who received the seed on a stony place, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy;   Vs. 21 - yet he has no roots and endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.   The stony Christian is the one that falls prey to lusts of the flesh.  Again, remember that physical gratification.  Tribulation hurts.  It pains me.  I don't like it.  It makes me uncomfortable.  It's not pleasant.  I want to make myself safe again and protect me.  Our human self-protection kicks in and you do what you have to in order to protect yourself, to protect  your body, to protect yourself.  But here this seed falls prey to the lusts of the flesh.  It's that physical gratification that it seeks. 

Vs. 22 - Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.   The thorny Christian is the one who falls prey to the pride of life.  This is the riches, the fame, the power, the control, the prestige.  Remember, the pride of life is the one individual who has this vain assurance in their own resources. 

Over in the book of James, James continues this concept about talking about Satan's tactics.  Let's go over to James, chapter 3 and see what he has to say about this.  James chapter 3 and verse 15 – he talks more about these three tactics, these three ideas of Satan, these three goals of Satan.  Again, he just wants us to fail at any one of these.  He doesn't need to hit us with all three.  If he can trip us up with this physical gratification or if he can trip us up by getting us to imagine and plan these daydreams, or if he can get us to lock in and be comfortable with our self and have this vain assurance for our own resources then he is able to be successful.  He just wants us to get tripped up on one of these. 

James:3:15 - This wisdom does not descend from above, but it's earthly ...   it has the lust of the flesh, it's physically oriented, it measures success in worldly terms, its aims and goals are worldly.  It's unable to go beyond the limits of this world to gain a perspective on things that are Godly.  Again, this is that physical component, the physical gratification.

James goes on and then says,  ... This wisdom does not descend from above, but it is earthly and it is sensual ...    Things that are sensual are this mind game, it's the lust of the eyes, it's mental.  This is literally animal-like.  It's the wrong type of wisdom.  It's more like an animal's attitude.  It's the wisdom that makes an animal snap and snarl with no other thought, no other conscious thought other than satisfying itself personally. 

Jude 19 says - These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit ...   Again, this sensual step here that James talks about as not being Godly is where we play in the mind and we are all about that mental gratification.  The lowest step here that James mentions is the demonic step.  This is the pride of life.  This is the idea that you can be like God.  It produces the kind of situation that Satan delights in. 

Ezekiel chapter 28 and verse 17 and speaking of Lucifer, Ezekiel writes:

Ezekiel:28:17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You have corrupted your wisdom ...  This is the pride of life.  This is, “Oh, look at me.  I have all this assurance in who I am and the resources that I have at my disposal.”  The demonic step is the lowest step.  This is where Satan fell prey himself.  He allowed this kind of mentality to get wrapped up and Ezekiel writes many verses about that. 

So how is it that these tactics lead to sin?  How do these tactics lead to sin?  Let me ask you a couple of questions here.  Are you sinning every time you see a hunk or you see a babe walking down the street?  Is that sin?  Just right off the bat you see that person.  Boom, you have sinned.  You know, deal is done.  How about, um, depending on how your tax situation works out, maybe you receive a really large IRS refund check.  You get it in the mail then, you know, “Woohoo, I'm so happy.”  You go to the bank and cash it.  Is that sin?  Just like that.  You cash the check and, boom, you've sinned.  Is that a true situation?  What about if you were to go out and maybe buy a new tie or a new dress.  Is that sin?  How about if someone gives you some new jewelry or some other accessory or some fun gadget or gizmo?  Is that sin? 

Let's stay here in the book of James, let's go back to chapter 1, though.  There is an interesting progression of events that lead to sin.  Any one of those scenarios that I just mentioned could lead to sin.  Or they could not be sin.  And James here talks to us about that progression of events that end up leading to sin.  James chapter 1 and verse 14.  James writes.  He says:

James:1:14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Vs. 15 - Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Vs. 16 - Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

So James tells us that it begins with desires and enticement.  It's not yet sin, it's not yet wrong.  You know, we find ourselves in a store.  We see something that sort of we like.  It's not yet sin.  It's not yet wrong – that item, whatever is hanging on the rack or being displayed in the cabinet.  The King James Version uses the words lust and enticed .  In the Greek it means a longing for, especially that which is forbidden.  This is desire.  This is where it begins.  You are allured to something or to someone.  Thayer's uses the idea to bait something or to catch something by bait.  This word desire , this is where sin begins.  You can think of being offered a proposal.  If you are offered a proposal, that's the same concept of where sin begins.  James continues then, when desire is conceived, that means to seize or to conceive something or to clasp it.  This is the idea that you have accepted that proposal.  That proposal has been offered to you.  Here's this gorgeous babe, here's a hunk of a guy, here's some fancy jewelry, here's whatever it is.  It's being presented to you.  Here's your proposal and you reach out then and you clasp it or you seize it.  You end up accepting that proposal.  Then James says it brings forth sin.  It brings forth sin.  There's enough potential within ourselves that sin doesn't have to be traced back to God's own doing.  We're quite happy sinning on our own.  We're quite capable of sinning on our own.  Our own actions are what brings forth the sin.  We think about it, we work at it, we rationalize it, we run it through our logical mind.  We grab it, we take hold of that proposal and sin, then, is born.  James concludes, he says when sin is finished then there's no more innocence.  That particular temptation went unchecked.  There was some sort of action that ensued and now sin lies before us. 

So why is it that we sin?  Why is it that we sin?  Let's go back to Matthew chapter 26 and verse 41.  Matthew:26:41, Christ in His own words gives us a little insight here as to the human weakness as far as why we sin.  You know, God could have designed us and created us spirit.  He could have made mankind spirit.  He could have just locked us in.  But instead He created us human because He wants us to develop this character.  He wants us to know that in the future when He does make us spirit, we are not going to turn into another Satan.  He wants us to develop character.  He wants us to develop a relationship with Him and prove to Him that He is first in our life and that we're seeking first that kingdom.  Matthew chapter 26 and verse 41, breaking into the thought here Christ says,

Matthew:26:41 - The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.    The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  We want to follow God's way of life.  We want to resist Satan.  We want not to sin one more time from here all the way to the day we die, but our flesh is weak, isn't it?  Our flesh is weak.  Satan knows that we are weak and he throws these three tactics at us hoping that any one of them will grab us and will take hold. 

Our recourse, though, is back in Romans 13.  Go with me over there.  Romans chapter 13.  This is the recourse, though we have a spirit that willing.  Those who are baptized have God's Spirit working in us and with us and we desire not to sin.  We desire to be more like God.  We desire to have this enthusiasm for God's way of life.  But we know that our flesh is weak and we need God's help.  Romans chapter 13 and verse 14 – our response, then, should be as Paul wrote here to the church at Rome:

Romans:13:14 – to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the flesh, in order to fulfill its lusts.

We are to make no provisions, we are to be aware of these tactics that Satan has.  We are to be aware of how and where he wants us to fail.  We should be making no provisions for the flesh.  We should be mindful of who we are.  We should be mindful of our thoughts.  We should be mindful of things that are pleasing to our eyes.  We should be mindful of our physical possessions, things that make us physically happy.  We should make no provision for the flesh. 

George Parker was one of the most audacious con men in American history.  He made his living selling New York public landmarks to unwary tourists.  His favorite object for sale was the Brooklyn Bridge which he ended up selling twice a week for many, many years.  He convinced his marks that they could make a fortune by controlling access to that particular roadway.  More than once the police had to remove naive buyers from the bridge as those buyers ended up trying to erect toll barriers for entrance to the bridge.  Other public landmarks he sold included the original Madison Square Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Grant's Tomb and the Statue of Liberty.  George had many different methods for making the sales.  When he sold Grant's Tomb for example, he would often pose as the general's grandson.  He would even set up a fake office in order to handle his real estate swindles.  He produced impressively forged documents in order to prove that he was a legal owner of whatever property he was attempting to sell.  George Parker was convicted of fraud three different times. After his third conviction, on December 17, 1928, he was sentenced to a life term at Sing Sing Prison and he spent the last eight years of his life behind bars.  George Parker was very popular among the guards and other fellow inmates because he would often tell stories of his exploits.  George is remembered as one of the most successful con men in the history of the United States as well as one of history's most talented hoaxers.  His exploits have passed into popular culture, giving rise to popular phrases such as "and if you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you", a popular way of expressing a belief that someone is gullible. 

Gullible, though, is what Satan wants.  Satan wants us to be gullible because if we are gullible it's easier to swallow his con.  Eve is who Satan wants all of us to be, but if we can't be an Eve, then he wants us to be an Adam.  And he wants someone close to us to be the gullible one and then for us to follow that person.  Satan wants someone who is easy to be conned, someone who seeks physical gratification, someone who is happy contemplating and imagining, someone who has assurance and seeks the safety of their own resources. 

Let's conclude back in the book of Galatians.  Galatians chapter 5, we'll wrap up with a couple of verses here.  Galatians chapter 5 and verses 16 and 17.  Again some encouraging words here from the apostle Paul.  He says,

Galatians:5:16 - I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

If we are continuously focused on God, if we have our eyes set on the kingdom, if we have our eyes set on overcoming and trying to rid off this filthiness that we are as humans, this way of life that's contrary to God's way, then we're not going to end up fulfilling the lusts of the flesh.

Vs. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.

In other words, if you don't let the Spirit of God lead you, then you just sort of end up living out your physical life according to the fleshly desires of this life.  We would end up falling prey to the lusts of our eyes, the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life.  But if we're over here walking in the Spirit, then what you're going to do is that we will end up being spiritually aware of that side of things and we will have that awareness.  We all struggle, though.  We all have moments.  We all have to wrestle with controlling our flesh and on a daily basis, on an hourly basis, in every second of every minute we need to be striving to live toward God's way of life and striving to live more Godly. 

Brethren, let's be fully aware of how Satan tempts each of us to sin.  Know how you can be torn away due to physical gratification or the imaginations that our mind can be so easily overrun with.  Let's be careful of having this vain assurance of things we own and things we can do.  God offers us the help needed to stay the course and to avoid Satan's tactics.  Let's be always symbolically on our knees and keeping our eyes in the Bible.


KARS's picture

Have a good Sabbath day.


2balite's picture

This was a great sermon. We all need to be reminded as to who the great con is in this world. Sometimes we get too busy and may inadvertently slip into a deceitful mode without being on guard.


Ruth_Serrano's picture

I really enjoyed the message & this man did a lot of home work which he shared in a way that I could understand & retain.
thanks for your sermons & programs they are informative & thought provoking.

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