Temptation Sermon Illustrations

Temptation Sermon Illustrations

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Only the rock which throws itself up against the current of a rapidly flowing river gives any idea of how strong the current is. It is when sin is resisted that we discover its power. Sin unresisted is as noiseless as the gliding stream and as viewless as the wind which sweeps over land and ocean.


In a story so popular a number of years ago, The Garden of Allah, the strongest and the most dramatic passage is that where the author describes the recreant and apostate monk thrown into the greatest distress and alarm when he beheld a man at prayer. The sight of a man so engaged cooled the ardor of his passion and reminded him of the vows he had broken and the sin he had committed. There would be less sinning in the world if there were more praying.


Homer tells us that when Ulysses came to the Aeaean isle where the daughter of the sun, Circe, lived, he climbed a hill and saw in the center of the island a palace embowered with trees. He sent forward one half of his crew under the command of Eurylochus to see if he could find hospitality. When the men approached the palace, which was surrounded by wild animals that had once been men now changed into beasts by Circe's art, they heard the sounds of soft music from within. When they entered—all but their leader, Eurylochus, who suspected danger—Circe served them with wine and other delicacies. When they had eaten and drunk heartilv she touched them one by one with her wand, and they then were immediately changed into swine. When Eurylochus brought the story of this disaster to Ulysses, he went forth to rescue his men. As he was going, he met on the way by Mercury, who warned him of the dangerous arts of Circe. But as Ulysses would not be dissuaded from his efforts, Mercury put in his hand a flower, the fragrance of which he was to inhale, which had the power to resist sorceries. Armed with this flower, Ulysses entered the palace of Circe, who entertained him as she had his companions; and when he had eaten and drunk, she touched him with her wand, saying, "Hence, seek the sty and wallow with thy friends!" But, protected from her spell by the flower which he carried, Ulysses drew his sword and compeled her to release his companions and restore them to their human form.

The Christian has a flower with which he can disarm temptation, and that flower is prayer.


In his famous Two Years Before the Mast Richard Henry Dana relates how at San Diego, on California coast, the sailors got out their needles and scissors and prepared themselves heavy garments—coats lined with wool and painted on the outside with tar; also heavy mittens, jerseys, and scarves. Why did they do this? Their ship was lying in the lovely bay at San Diego, where a tropical sun was smiling down upon them. Where was the ship going that these men were getting ready heavy winter garments? The ship was going around the Horn, where for days and weeks they would be sailing throse icy seas, driven with arctic gales, and ship's rigging would be coated with ice. Long before they reached the dangerous passage they were getting ready for it.

It is wise to take a survey of our life, and to be ready for every eventuality.


Ahab was a weak and wicked king, yet he had a certain respect for himself and for his people. He told Ben-hadad that although he had consented to the first conditions laid down, this other he would not do: "This thing I may not do" (I Kings 20:9)! Every man ought to have a thus far and no farther in his character, a "This thing I may not do," in answer to the tempter.


A man once came to his physician complaining of physical weakness and low spirits, and how he was tempted to rely upon stimulants. The physician told him that to resort to stimulants in his condition would be injurious. When the patient declared that unless he drank he would be unequal to his work and would sink, the doctor said, "Then sink like a man."


Archimedes, the man who said, "Give me a place on which to rest my lever and I can move the world," is said to have destroyed the Roman fleet which was besieging Syracuse—where the Allied armies of the second World War landed for the Italian campaign—by setting them on fire by the reflection of mirrors. An unarmed and weak mathematician destroyed the armada of a great kingdom because he put himself in touch with the forces of the physical universe.

One unarmed and humble mortal can overthrow Satan and all his hosts if he will only put himself, and keep himself, in touch with that source of all spiritual power, the Lord Jesus Christ.


In Bunyan's great dream of Mansoul, that fortress and capital, although besieged by strong, cruel, subtle, and malignant foes, could not fall, and did not fall, until its gates were opened from within. Not until you and I enter into conspiracy with the foe at the gate of our soul can that enemy win the victory. We are able to bear it if we will.


In the days of the Civil War it was illegal to trade in cotton; but many unscrupulous speculators tried to buy cotton in the South, run it through the Union lines, and sell it at great profit in the North. One of these speculators approached a Mississippi steamboat captain and offered him $100 if he would run his cotton up the river for him. The captain declined, reminding him that it was illegal.

"I will give you $500," said the man.

"No," answered the captain.

"I will give you $1000."

"No," the captain said again.

"I will give you $3000."

At that the captain drew his pistol, and pointing it at the man said, "Get off this boat. You are coming too near my price."

That is the way to deal with temptation. That is the way Christ dealt with it. There was no parley, no delay; he said, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Matt. 16:23).


The great teacher Arnold of Rugby once wrote: "Of all the painful things connected with my employment nothing is equivalent to the grief of seeing a boy come to the school innocent and promising, and tracing the corruption of his character from the influence of the temptations around him, in the very place which ought to have strengthened it and improved it." He hints there at two principles of conduct—the importance and tragic fatality of companionship, and also the importance of the spiritual or unseen environment of every man's life. The influence of bad environment cannot be fatal to the soul unless the soul itself is friendly and receptive to that evil influence.


Mr. Valiant-for-Truth, when summoned to go over the river, said, "I am going to my Father's; and though with great difficulty I have got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am. My sword I give to him that shall succeed me in my pilgrimage, and my courage and skill to him that can get it. My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me that I have fought His battles who will now be my rewarder."

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