THE ULTIAMTE FIGHTER
Thanks so much for being here. Today we’re talking about the Ultimate Fighter’s last move is to learn how to escape. Every fighter is going to face an opponent that seems to be pouncing on and on top of them, and they’re going to have to learn how to pull an escape move and get on top of their opponent instead. It never ceases to amaze me, when I watch a UFC battle, to watch someone going at it, really getting beat, pretty, pretty bad by someone, and then suddenly in the last few seconds, turn around and win. And they somehow escape being pinned down. They escape the chokehold, they escape the ground and pound, and somehow they managed to get on top of their opponent and win when it seemed like the odds were against them. Well that’s a biblical concept, because God sometimes allows us to get into a situation to where it seems like the odds are against us, only to show his glory when we escape, only to show his strength in us when we learn how to free ourselves from temptation. Pull out your notes if you would, and if you have a Bible you can turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 10. We’re going to be pretty much there all day today, looking at the scripture. 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 12 and 13, and we’re going to have a few supporting verses as well for that, but basically this one section of scripture gives us the prescription, the formula for how to overcome temptation. And temptation is something all of us will face in our lives. A lot of times we feel really confident, but we are all susceptible to being conquered. Even though we are more than conquerors, we also have the ability to really mess up. We all have the ability to be conquered if you will. I want to show you some scriptures today. Let’s dive right into 1 Corinthians 10 verse 12. God starts off talking about temptation by putting it this way. He says: “So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” See the first part of learning how to overcome a temptation in your life is to realize that you are susceptible to temptation, to realize that temptation is the reality in all of us, any of us could fall into any sin. But we begin to believe the lie that somehow we’re above it, somehow we think, oh that would never happen to me, I would never do that. We even become a little judgmental towards other people and their particular sin of choice, when it’s not because we’re so holy, it just happens to not be our sin of choice. We all have a sin of choice; we all have something that is our weakness over another person’s weakness. You may look at someone that’s struggling with alcohol and drugs, and just think why don’t they just quit, I mean how hard can that be, right? Well you’d be amazed at how hard that can be. In fact it’s funny, the person who says oh, just quit drinking, just quit taking those drugs, you know. I would like to see you give up Dr. Pepper or Coca Cola for two days without having the shivers basically, without having withdrawals wanting your caffeine.
Just go, just quit going to Starbucks for a week and just see how painful that is. Now apply that by about a hundred to try to get off drugs or alcohol. In other words, we really stand in judgment on things that we don’t understand. You know just because I don’t struggle with gambling, doesn’t mean that a gambling addictions not real. Just because I don’t struggle with your particular sin, or you don’t struggle with my particular sin, doesn’t mean that we don’t have problems, doesn’t mean that we’re not susceptible to sin. That’s called pride. Proverbs 16:18 puts it this way. The message translation says first pride, then the crash. The bigger the ego, the harder the fall. You know it’s funny; arrogance and pride are a funny disease. It makes everyone else stick around the person who has it. It just does, it’s just funny about that. But arrogance, we begin to show our arrogance and pride, in fact you may be having some pride well up right now if you have the belief that you think oh, I don’t really need this sermon. That’s actually pride. If you believe somehow that your above this issue. Oh, I, I don’t really need that, you know. Nothings going to happen to my marriage, nothings going to happen to my walk with the Lord, I’m not susceptible to those sins; when in reality, you’ve become more susceptible if you believe you’re not. That’s how you become susceptible to sin. So just remember that whenever you see someone struggling with something, just say to yourself, there but by the grace of God go I. I could be the next one falling into that sin, into that temptation. And so before we pass judgment on someone else, recognize that all of us have sinned. That’s just called the human condition, every one of us. And so the reality, that’s why we all need the Savior, the reason Jesus died for the whole world, cause the whole worlds involved in sin, and that includes you and me, all of us. And so the reality is we have to be number one, be humble enough to admit that you’re susceptible to all temptation and sin, all temptation. And you saying well that, that’s, that’s not going to happen to me. Well it may not happen to you, but you could fall into that, given the same set of circumstances, the same background, you may be in that same spot that your friend, neighbor, coworker, or family members in right now. So be real careful before you begin to pass judgment on someone else. We have to humble ourselves before the Lord, because any of us and all of us could fall into a sin today, or tomorrow, or even in the next hour. And so just, just be aware of that. The next part of scripture says this, 1 Corinthians 10 verse 13, it says: “No temptation has ceased you accept what is common to man.” Now this is very important. The sins we deal with, they’re common, but we begin to believe somehow that, that oh I’m the only one dealing with this, I’m the only one that’s been really hurt by someone, and I’m the only one that deals with anger, I’m the only one dealing with lust, I’m the only one that’s greedy, I’m the only one who, who, who, you know struggling with just eating everything I can get my hands on, or I’m the only one who…fill in the blank. I mean all of us deal with the same commonalities. I’m not sure what it is for you, but I bet you’ll find that it’s really not original.
I mean really, the only one who could claim original sin would be Adam and Eve. Everyone else has very un-original sin. In fact you know, I, I got news for you, the devils got a bag of tricks, he’s been using the same bag of tricks since David and Moses, and now he’s just applying the same stuff to us. That’s why we have the stories of his bag of tricks and how they got out of it right here. So we can learn from it, oh, they dealt with the same stuff that I’m dealing with. There’s not a sin you’re dealing with that I cannot show you in scripture. Oh sure, technology’s changed, but the sin is still the same stuff. And so I just want to encourage you to know that God does want to help you, but realize your sin, your struggle, I’m not trying to make light of it, but the reality is, it is common.
Number two: don’t be discouraged. Your temptations are common problems all people face. Everyone faces the same temptations, they really do. And so it is not uncommon, it’s very common. This is why I encourage you to come out of isolation. This is the power of a small group, this is a power of having good Christian friends, and brothers, and sisters in Christ. You can, you can be encouraged by it and talking about it. Because what you’ll find out; the biggest discovery you’ll have is when you realize, huh, they’re just like I am. They have the same issues I have. That’s exactly right, and so we’re all people, and people have common issues. There’s commonality among us. Part of the community, the faith, is the community of our struggle with sin. That’s the greatest community, isn’t it? I mean the one place we all have something in common is that. We may not be the same race, skin color, social, economic level, but we all got the same sins. We all need Christ and his cross, every one of us. And so it is common sin, and that’s why God gives us common grace. Look at the next scripture. It says in verse 13, it goes on to say this: “And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” God’s not going to let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But see, we begin to believe the lie that I just can’t overcome this one; this one’s just too big. You know I’m a man, that’s just what I’m going to deal with. I’m a woman, that’s just what I’m going to deal with. I’m a, you fill in the blank, that’s just what I’m going to deal with. That, that’s ridiculous, as if somehow we can’t overcome sin. It says here, and God is faithful. Notice it doesn’t say and we are faithful, cause we’re not always faithful. It says, and God is faithful. In other words, your ability to overcome your temptation is not based upon you; it’s based upon God and his faithfulness. And he says here in scripture that he will never let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. He, when you say ah, I can’t handle it; yes you can. In fact the very fact that there’s a temptation in front of you is that, also you should realize according to scripture, is that fact that you can handle it. The fact that you’re dealing with it, God never allows something to come into your life that you cannot properly handle. But you got to realize that you may deal with this sin again and again.
One thing I’ve discovered in life, temptations not going away. It’s not going to go away. You’re not going to have a temptation-free zone for very long; temptations always there. Margaret Thatcher one time said: you may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. It’s critical. You say man, but I’ve been fighting this battle, and I keep losing, losing, losing.
Fight again, but this time fight, number three: with the belief that you can overcome it. You have to believe that you can overcome it and then you will. But if you don’t believe you can overcome it, if you believe you’re going to get beat by the fighter once you get in the octagon, then you’re going to get beat. You have to believe you can win. That’s the premise by which you even fight, is realize that you can win. I’m just never going to be around tempting food again. Good luck with that one. There’s not a restaurant available that doesn’t have something that’s bad for you that you’re going to munch on probably today. The reality, you say well I know, I’ll just, I just won’t have any friendships with anyone who ever hurts me. Then you’ll never be close to anyone. You’ll never have a relationship that you don’t have to forgive someone on a pretty regular basis. So avoiding the temptation of being angry and bitter, avoiding the temptation of, of lust, or of greed. There’s always something new to buy. You discover there’s always a newer car that’s nicer. There’s always a bigger house with more square footage, there’s always a nicer, newer outfit, there’s always a better flat screen TV, listen: greed will consume you if you don’t realize that stuff is just stuff. The reality is: you’re always going to be tempted by something. But if you say it’s just too hard, I just can’t handle it, then that becomes your reality. But if you say you know what? Sure it’s not an easy time, but I can handle it according to scripture. God is faithful; he will not let me be tempted beyond what I can handle. It’s very clear in scripture. You can handle it. We got a change our language. Instead of saying once again man, I’m just so defeated. Just keep setting me out, just keep giving out, I just can’t get victory. When you change your language and begin to speak new words of ourselves and say you know what, I haven’t yet, but I’m going to. Things are changing today. We’ve got to begin to speak a new reality into our lives. We become the prophets for our own lives. We are self fulfilling prophets. So speak a new reality over yourself, speak the scriptures. You may want to memorize this scripture today. Just say I want to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13, “God is faithful, he will not let me be tempted beyond what I can handle, what I can bear.” Scripture goes on to say this next. It says: “But when you were tempted, he will also provide a way out.” Another translation says an escape, a way out so that you can stand up under it. Now I love this, the verse, let’s just break this down. The very first part of scripture says, it says all temptation, no temptation sees you except which is common to man.
Man means mankind, everyone, to be human is to be tempted, okay. So all temptation; it says no temptation will cease you except what is common to all of us. Same stuff, same sins, okay.
So we’ve got common temptations, then it says God is faithful, he will not let mankind. No, it doesn’t say that now, it switches words. Now it says instead of mankind, it says he will not allow you to be tempted with no more than you can bear. Now what would put you over the edge would be different then what puts me over the edge, temptation wise. But he’s not going to let me be tempted by what would, he, he, I may be tempted by something that would put you over the edge. You may be tempted by something that would put me over the edge. This is why it’s very important also that when you see someone putting safeguards up in their lives; just cause they don’t make sense to you, doesn’t mean they don’t make sense. I had a friend one time, we were, I said hey, let’s go grab a bite to eat. We went to go to this restaurant, said hey, do you want to eat here? And he goes, no not really. I was like oh, you don’t like the food. No, there’s a bar there. I was like oh, well yeah, I guess there is. I, I just really don’t think about it, but almost every restaurant I ever eat at it has a bar in the back somewhere. He says yeah, I can’t do that. And I realized that’s true. This guy put about twenty years of his life away, just threw it away on the bottle. So for him, the temptation that he can bear is different than what I can bear. He says I just don’t go in there. To me it’s not even an issue. At the same time, there are probably places that we could go that I would be like man, I can’t go in here and he would be fine. So temptations are different. But the one thing I can tell you this, God always gives you a personalized way of escape. Look at the scripture. It says but when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under. It’s personal. So the temptations are common to mankind, but the way out is personal just for you: your temperament, your environment, your setting, your background, the way you think, it’s a personal way. The next time temptation comes in your life, just imagine it this way. All of a sudden boom, you walk in a room and bam, there’s a temptation, whatever it happens to be for you, whatever your big issue is, whatever your pet favorite sin happens to be. That temptation is right in front of you. And now just imagine yourself looking around and you look, oh, and there’s an envelope with your name on it. Now grab it and pick it up. Bil Cornelius, open now, you know open now with exclamation right on it. Oh, rip it open and it says right now you’re facing temptation, here’s what you do. This door over here on your right is open, take it now. Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be great if you just had an envelope, just, just right there with your name on it. As soon as the temptation came up, boom, you just look around, where’s the envelope, where’s the envelope, oh there it is. And you grab it and you open up, it’d be like the matrix wouldn’t it, wouldn’t it be cool? (Laughter) And right at that moment, there’s a personalized way, you know which, do I take the red pill or the blue pill, (Laughter) you know, which one. This door or that door, and so God always gives a personal way of escape, but he’s faster than a letter. He just enters it in your mind, in an instant he tells you, okay you’re being tempted, here’s your way out. I’ve talked with couples who were trying to overcome the devastating effects of an affair. And a question I can never quit asking is this one, and I regularly ask this of couples when we talk with them that have had affairs, I say: So before this affair was full blown, was there ever a warning? Did you ever have a warning from God, and every time without exception, one or both will drop their heads and say yes. And I’ll begin to say tell me about the warning. I don’t want to know about the sin, I just want to know about the warning. I just want to know how God works. So then they’ll tell me this. I know how sin works; I don’t need any evidence on that, (Laughter) how does God work. And this is what they tell me, stories like this: Well you know, we’re at this company picnic or this company event, and we’re all eating, and pretty soon slowly, one person after the other begins to leave, until it was just me and her. And we began to talk about our marriages, how unsatisfied we were. And I said well did God warn you? Yeah he did. How did he warn you? My phone rang. So what happened? Well I looked down. Who was it? It was my wife. What you do? I hit ignore. See, that was your personal way of escape bro. That was how you could have gotten out of that situation right there on the spot. So your flipping channels late at night and you go to those channels late at night. And all of a sudden you hear, honey you going to come to bed? There’s your moment. I’ll be there in a little bit. (Laughter) You just blew the escape plan. You had the escape. Maybe you’re angry. Some ones really hurt you bad. Do you know a person that sticks up for you in that moment, that comes to your defense that fends off the people who have hurt you? That’s your escape plan. These people, they hurt me so bad. And you’re tempted to just focus on them and stay angry, stay angry, and God says I have given you this faithful person that has stepped in when the faithless left you and hurt you. You are now facing a temptation. Will I just focus on my anger, or will I focus on those who’ve been faithful and good to me? Which one you going to focus on? It’s a way of escape. God always provides a way of escape. Let me give you some statistics, this is powerful stats, this is by Discipleship Journal. They did a survey of how people have fallen into temptations statistically, and also how they overcame temptation statistically. Let me just read this to you real quick. Survey respondents noted that their temptations were not, were more potent when they had neglected their time with God. 81% of the people said that when they fell into temptation, they hadn’t been spending time with God regularly. It’s powerful isn’t it? Look at this one: 57% of the people that fell into temptation said that they did so when they were physically tired. See when you’re worn down, you’re just not as sharp. Your defenses are down, because you’re just exhausted. Sometimes the most healthy thing you can do is just to go to bed early and get some sleep, and get some rest, eat right, get some rest. Also, how did they resist temptation? Statistics prove how: 84% of the people that overcame a temptation did so by prayer, by regularly praying and spending time with God.
76% of the people who overcame temptation did so by avoiding compromising situations. Frankly, that’s my number one way. My number one way to overcome a temptation is to avoid it. The reason why the WEC champ, Urijah Faber will never beat me in the ring, is cause I’m not dumb enough to get in the ring with him. (Laughter) Does that make sense? Don’t get in the ring with him. That’s how you overcome that. There’s certain places I just don’t go cause I realize the temptation would just be too great. I’m just not going to put myself in that situation. Some of these things aren’t right or wrong, they’re just wisdom. Wisdom says if you’re tempted by doughnuts, don’t work for Krispy Crème, (Laughter) that’s just temptation that you will not do well at, okay. All I’m saying is you have to know where you’re weak and avoid that weakness, okay. And so it’s important that we do that, avoid compromised situations. 66% of the people who overcame temptation said they did so by Bible study, staying in God’s word is a very powerful way to overcome temptation. Also, 52% of the people that overcame temptation said they did so by being accountable to someone else. Let me just say a word real quick about accountability. Accountability needs to be someone of the same sex by the way, and accountability also need to be someone that is walking with the Lord and striving to serve God. Look, if you’re both just falling deep into sin together, then that’s not accountability, okay. But I encourage you, real accountability means you got to be real honest. You’re only as accountable as you want to be. But if you’re lying to people, then, then there’s no point in even having a conversation, you’re lying anyways. And so sin lives as long as there’s lies. Sin dies the moment you tell the truth. The way that you overcome temptation the greatest is by telling the truth on your weakness. Someone needs to know everything about you. Someone needs to have the skinny on you, someone need to know enough about you not to be impressed by you, but to be able to influence you, to be able to say yeah, I know where you’re weak, and you need to be calling me cause I know that’s a weakness for you. That’s important, but God always gives us a way of escape, and he also personalizes it. I want to share one last scripture with you and then we’re going to wrap it up. Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1, this is not on your outlines, you may want to write that down, Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1, it says: “What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. Is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.” Okay, God says faith is that when we believe and what we cannot see yet. Now I believe that temptation always comes down to, to this one thing. What we’re really tempted to do is not believe God. Temptation always is tempting us to not believe in God’s goodness, that he will provide us the need that needs to be met.
In other words, temptation is always a gift that God has given us that, that the devil has twisted and given us in the wrong way. In other words, all the things you’re tempted by are all good desires gone bad. And so when you think about this, is that we have good desires gone bad. What that means is that we have the right desires; they need to be fulfilled in the right way, at the right time, with the right people. Does that make sense? So what we’re really tempted by is our lack of vision. How about this one. Maybe you’re tempted to be angry with someone, somebody you’re just so mad at, and you’re just tempted to hold this anger, this bitterness towards them. That temptation is a lack of faith, and believing that God is not really a just God. If really believe God’s a just God, then don’t worry, he’s going to take care of it. And I promise you something. His wrath is way greater than yours will ever be. And so let God dispense the wrath. And you say well what if it doesn’t happen this side of heaven. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. He is a God of justice. I promise you that, and so it’s not our jobs to hold anger towards someone else. In fact what you find out, all it does is hold you back. Maybe you’re tempted morally. You know what that really is a lack of faith in, is that if we’re tempted, especially if you’re married and you’re tempted by another, you know what? The real lack of faith is that you don’t believe that God can satisfy you with your own spouse. That you can be satisfied in that relationship, but you can. Here’s the funny thing about it, is that if you’re married to someone, and let’s say God tempts you with another man or woman, and so you think oh, I’d rather be with them. If you actually divorced your wife or husband, and then hooked up with them, then Satan would tempt you with your original wife or husband, just because you’re not married to him anymore. It has nothing to do with oh, how wonderful they are. It has to do with the fact that it’s the forbidden fruit, that’s all it is. So we find ourselves tempted just because we can’t have it. The reality is that the real temptation is to be tempted to believe that God cannot satisfy your needs in your marriage, or if you’re single, God cannot satisfy your need in a timely manner. And we say, oh I just, I got a have it now. That’s just not true. That’s a belief you’ve acquired, but you don’t have to, you can wait, it is possible. Don’t tell me it’s not possible; I did it, I know you can wait. I know it’s possible, you can do it. Trust in God, take a lot of cold showers, it is possible. (Laughter) Maybe you’re tempted to cheat on your taxes. The real temptation there is not just to save a little money. The real temptation is that somehow we have a lack of faith that God can show us new avenues, new ways, and new ideas just to earn more money. Wouldn’t it be much better, rather than cheating on your taxes, for God just to show you how you can earn 20 or 30% more money. I think that would be better, wouldn’t it? See, God can do that. Listen: the number way that I’ve overcome temptation in my life, and I haven’t always overcome temptation, no one has. But when things are rolling in my life, and I’m really overcoming temptation, I want to tell you how it happens. I get a clear enough and big enough vision of my future.
And then when that little temptation comes along, the vision is so big that it just squashes any temptation, cause I think I could either have this for my future that God has for me, or I can veer off and have this little temptation, and ruin all of the future God has.
So when your temptations come along, a weak person that falls in temptation falls because their vision isn’t big enough. But the more focused you get on your future, the more you realize frankly, I don’t have time to sin, because I got too much going on in my future. And so when you begin to get the picture of what God wants to do in your life; she, he, it, that is not worth it. Say no to it. (Applause) It’s worth the no. Let’s pray. Thank you for being here. With your head bowed and your eyes closed, as we pray I just want to encourage you during this, during this, this prayer time, God has something big for you, and I believe the first thing he has big for you is to overcome what’s little. Is overcome those small temptations that’s getting in the way of his big plans. And so your prayer today may be Lord, I’m tired of falling down on the job, I’m tired of missing out on your goodness, on your glory, and I’m not willing to do that anymore. Your prayer may be God, help me to drop this before you drop me. Now, you’re not going to lose your salvation, but you can certainly miss out on the plans of God. I just want to encourage you to let go of what’s holding you back, and realize that God has something better. Maybe your prayer today is that you don’t know Christ. And I want to challenge you to let go of the temptation to be the boss, to let go of the temptation to walk in your own faith, rather than trusting in God. You can receive him right now by stepping out in the faith and saying: I need you and I realize that. You can pray this simple prayer with me and receive him right now. You can say dear Jesus; I realize that you came to this earth. You claimed to be God, and then you proved it by dying on the cross for all my sins. Please forgive me for my sins, forgive me for following my own ways instead of following after you. I believe that you rose again from the grave, proving that you’re God and I invite you to be the Lord of my life, that I put you in charge of my life. Thank you Jesus for saving me. I want to follow you from this day forward, in Jesus’ name, Amen, amen. Isn’t God good? His word’s so true, (Applause) so true.