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Monday, April 19, 2010

Money, sex, power

Yesterday, I shared with our church family that the three things that tempt the body of Christ - and cause havoc and disruption - are ironically enough - the three things you don't hear a lot about in the church.

Money, sex and power.

For whatever reason, we have bought into the deception of the enemy that those three subjects are not to be broached in the church.

Our culture floods us with books, commercials, TV shows and movies that try to fill our thought life and actions with these three temptations.

And yet the church remains silent.

I ask you - how many people to you know, and many times godly people, have fallen in those three areas. Money, sex, power.

What were the foundation of the tele-evangelist scandals of the 1980's?

Money, sex and power.

I found something that goes with this subject today.

A survey of 3,000 U.S. adults identifies the differences and similarities between what men and women say tempts them the most:

Sex: Men (50 percent), Women (22 percent)

Food: Men (29 percent), Women (56 percent)

Money: Men (14 percent), Women (15 percent)

Alcohol: Men (7 percent), Women (2 percent)

Power: Men (2 percent), Women (7 percent)

What is interesting about those statistics is that what might tempt me might not be what tempts you and vice versa.

But it is just not in the kingdom that we see these three temptations. We see that in our culture as well.

Does the name Tiger Woods ring a bell?

What finally caught up with him? Money, sex and power.

Let me give you three quick thoughts about this.

1. The temptations of money, sex and power will not affect us if we find our ultimate satisfaction in God.

Here's what I know: We will never find ultimate satisfaction in money, sex, or power. We can only find our ultimate satisfaction in God.

In the Old Testament, Solomon, much like Tiger, had virtually everything this world could offer but comes to this conclusion in Ecclesiastes 12:13:

"Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil."

Writer and apologist G.K. Chesterton offers a brilliant synopsis of Tiger's situation and the Book of Ecclesiastes when he writes, "The man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God."

That is, the person who is looking to buy sex, is looking to be complete, happy, full of joy.

They are looking for transcendence, and they are doing so because they have a hole in their heart that was designed for God. They just happen to be looking in the wrong place.

One author writes,"As humans, we were made for more than what we see. We were made by God for a relationship with God. Until we get that, we are never ultimately complete, and we'll keep looking for things to give us meaning and pleasure. Some believe that wholeness will come through fame. Others believe it comes through power or sex or pleasure or money. But as the Book of Ecclesiastes points out, none of these things work. A no-strings-attached affair offers pleasure without responsibility, but it's nothing more than a brief high. It will wear off like any other drug.

Men, take note! Tiger is a man who had virtually everything he could possibly want: An attractive wife. More money than he could ever spend. Multiple homes, jets, and boats. Two beautiful kids. The title of the world's best golfer. The adulation of millions. He plays basketball with Michael Jordan. He goes bike riding with Lance Armstrong. He takes calls from the President of the United States. Like Solomon—who was the king of Israel during the zenith of her glory—Tiger had it all. And like Solomon, he kept looking for more, because there is a hole in our heart that only God can fill."

2. Our sins will find us out.

This is exactly what Numbers 32:23 says: "Be sure your sin will find you out."

You may be able to get away with lying and cheating for a while, but eventually things are going to collapse.

Proverbs 6:27 says, "Can a man take fire into his bosom and his clothes not get burned? Or can a man walk on hot coals and his feet not get scorched."

The answer is "No," of course.

Even if we could keep small sins small, over time they will lead us a long way from where we want to be. Sin is self-destructive behavior. It poisons your soul. It hardens your heart.

It creates distance between you and God. It makes you less of a person, not more. No one who could see things clearly would ever chose to sin, because to choose to sin is to choose to suffer. Over time, you can't hide such suffering."

3. Power can be a dangerous thing.

The arrogance and self-importance that can accompany those who become successful can blind them to their desperate need for God and his forgiveness.

That's why we need accountability in this area.

We need real friends.

Real friends are those who understand what is going on in your life because you are not hiding it from them, and they call on you to become a better person.

Seek these relationships today. Be intentional about it.

What is disconcerting about Tiger is that he is now pleading for privacy. That's a little hypocritical for a man who has spent ten years profiting from selling his image. What he is really asking for is not privacy, but the right to secrecy.

May God give us the strength that we all need to stand victorious in these three areas.

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