Temptation and Idolatry

The other day, I talked about the three excuses people give for giving in to temptation, and the one verse that refutes all three — 1 Corinthians 10:13. I then pointed out that verse 14 tells us that the fundamental issue is idolatry. So the solution to temptation is to “flee idolatry” and worship the one true God. Let’s talk a little more about how idolatry and temptation are related.

An idol is something that we submit to, above God, because we think it can be an avenue to our satisfaction and the solution to our problems. It’s something we end up bowing down to in a form of worship, in hopes that it will bring us something that we crave and value above loving God and loving others. For example, bowing down to people, rather than God, in order to receive approval or acceptance (which we crave and value to a sinful degree — lust), in place of loving God and loving others, is an example of idolatry. Bowing down to money, rather than God, in order to receive comfort or status (which we lust after), in place of loving God and loving others, is another example of idolatry.

Temptation happens when an opportunity is presented that entices you to sin against God in order to obtain an object of lust. James 1:14 says that “each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.” If I see some roadkill in the middle of the road, I am not tempted to go eat it, because I have absolutely no desire to eat roadkill! I’m only tempted by things that I desire. And if I desire something so much that I value it more than I value loving and obeying Christ, then I’ve turned that desire into lust, and that thing I desire is now something I am willing to sin in order to get. So how do you avoid temptation? “Flee idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14). Ask God to place the right desires in your heart (Ps. 37:4), so that you value and treasure God and His ways more than your own desires and preferences. The less idols you have, the less you are willing to sin to get what you want, the less you will be tempted.

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On Pride and Humility

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.” — 2 Corinthians 10:4–5

Anything that puts you and your opinions above God and the truths of His Word is pride, or “high-­mindedness,” as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 10:5. High-­mindedness can come in many forms, but it all boils down to being self-­focused, rather than God-­focused. Anything that you make an idol in your life, and even self-centered thoughts such as fear, guilt, worry, resentment, or insecurity — all of these things are a result of “high­-minded,” or prideful, opinions. What is pride? Pride means raising your own standards or preferences for thinking, behaving, or living, above God’s standards and precepts (Jer. 2:13; Ps. 10:1–11). It means having an inaccurate assessment of yourself, and resisting God’s standards and precepts (Isa. 14:12–15). At the core, the essence, of pride, is a self-­focused mindset — a mind constantly set on yourself (Rom. 8:5–7). Pride is so serious that the Bible actually says that God hates and opposes pride (Prov. 6:16–17; James 4:6; Prov. 15:25a; 16:5).

So what is the answer? What is the opposite of pride? It’s not thinking horrible things about yourself and focusing on how bad of a person you are — that’s still actually a form of pride, because you’re still consumed with yourself, and maintaining an inaccurate view of yourself rather than finding out and believing what God says about you. No, the opposite of pride is humility. Humility means aligning your thinking/behavior/lifestyle with the standards and precepts of God as we find in the Bible (John 14:21); it means a sober assessment of yourself in light of what God says about you. Having a mind set on Christ and others is the essence of humility (Rom. 8:6; Phil. 2:5).

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, “taking every thought captive” actually refers to the truth of Scripture taking our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. In other words, our responsibility is to humbly submit our thoughts and minds and attitudes to the teaching of the Bible — to allow the teachings of the Word of God to shape and define our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions. It takes humility to do that; but as we submit our thoughts and lives to the teaching of the Bible, we will also gain more and more humility as we learn to view ourselves, God, and others, as God Himself does.

Every decision you make in life is ultimately either God-centered or self-centered. Which will you choose?

Thought Questions:

  • A humble person is a teachable person. When you are receiving instruction, whether at school, at church, or at work, do you find yourself constantly resisting that instruction, or feeling as though you don’t need to be taught this, it’s not important, or you already have it figured out?
  • Pride means putting yourself first — your opinions, your desires, and your preferences. How often do you do or say things simply because they will make you more comfortable, or make you look good, without thinking about how it might affect other people, your friendships, or your witness for Christ?

PA Youth Camp 2015 — “Follow Me”

It is the calling of every Christian to be a complete and competent disciple of Christ; and it’s the responsibility of every Christian to make disciples of others. From Matthew 28:19, Luke 6:40, and John 13:34-35, we see that discipleship involves the initiation and the instruction of every believer into an ever-deepening relationship with Jesus Christ, evidenced by a transformation into the likeness of Christ, and a radical love for Christ and for one’s fellow believers. The goal of discipleship, put plainly, is to make every person a more fully devoted follower of Christ.

In just two weeks, my church will be putting versecrosson our annual Pennsylvania Youth Camp. This is literally my favorite week out of my entire year! We have amazing worship, intense team competitions, sound Bible teaching, deep fellowship, and crazy fun! I am excited for the theme this year — “Follow Me.” It comes from Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'” This year’s theme centers around what it means to be a disciple of Christ. The speakers will not only teach about how Christ ministered and modeled discipleship, but also what it means for us today to pursue a life of discipleship to Christ.

I’m also especially looking forward to the speaker lineup this year. Monday night kicks off with Mark Niemann, from Columbus, Ohio, one of the most entertaining speakers I’ve heard at camp. The morning speaker for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday is Ranger Gary Horton, a dear friend of mine, a key player in the starting of PA Camp, and an amazing speaker. Gary is speaking to a group of young people at another conference on Wednesday, so I will be filling in Wednesday morning while Gary is gone. Our featured evening speaker is Dr. Doug Bookman. Dr. Bookman is one of my professors at Shepherds Theological Seminary (and my favorite professor at that). His focus-area of study is the life of Christ, so it should be pretty awesome to have that kind of expertise while he’s teaching on what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Dr. Bookman is one of the most entertaining, informative, and amazing communicators I’ve heard, and I am so excited for everyone at camp to get exposed to his teaching too!

Camp is only two weeks away — please share this post with as many as you can, and let’s spread the word! And take the time to check out the info and consider signing your kids up too for what can be one of the most transformative and impactful weeks of their lives!

  • You can find all the info about Youth Camp and Children’s Camp — prices, check in times, etc. here.
  • You can get to the registration form from their as well, or go here.
  • You can watch the slideshow from last year’s camp here, and enjoy the promo video for this year below!

PA Youth Camp Messages Online

I recently had the honor and privilege of being a speaker at Pennsylvania Youth Camp. It was such an honor to speak at this camp that has played such a major part in developing who I am as a Christian and as a man. I was also so honored to share the pulpit with three men who have played significant roles in shaping who I am today – Gary Horton, Mark Niemann, and Drue Freeman.

The camp theme this year was “The Love of Christ,” and though it was one of our smallest camps, many of us felt it was also one of the best years (despite the absence of several, such as Pete Stadler and Gene Cunningham, who have always been a huge part of camp)! Friendships were made (and deepened), kids were introduced to Christ, competitions were intense, and Christ was worshiped and glorified through music and the study of His Word.

Shortly after camp, I put up a link to the messages I gave. But I’m happy that now all the messages from the different speakers can be found on the church website! Enjoy the study of God’s Word from some amazing Bible teachers!

PAYC 2014 – Our Identity, and the Supremacy of Love [podcast]

In this message from PA Youth Camp 2014, I first talk about our need for Christ to transform us. There is nothing we can do to change who we are – only Christ can transform us. This leads into some good discussion of the implications of this on the conversation and controversy surrounding the issue of homosexuality and how one’s identity plays into the issue. I then move on to talk about the oft-misunderstood “love chapter” – 1 Corinthians 13 – and what it means for our priorities, relationships, and the way we should be living today. Only a half-hour long – Listen here!


I recently had the privilege of being a speaker at Pennsylvania Youth Camp. It was such an honor to speak at this camp that has played such a major part in developing who I am as a Christian and as a man. I was also so honored to share the pulpit with three men who have played significant roles in shaping who I am today – Gary Horton, Mark Niemann, and Drue Freeman.

The camp theme this year was “The Love of Christ,” and though it was one of our smallest camps, many of us felt it was also one of the best years (despite the absence of several, such as Pete Stadler and Gene Cunningham, who have always been a huge part of camp)! Friendships were made (and deepened), kids were introduced to Christ, competitions were intense, and Christ was worshiped and glorified through music and the study of His Word.

PAYC 2014 – Glorifying Christ Through Suffering [podcast]

In this message from PAYC 2014, I talk about the nature of suffering in the Christian life, and our need to both trust and glorify Christ through our suffering, even when nothing about our situation makes any sense to us – because our God is completely trustworthy!


I recently had the privilege of being a speaker at Pennsylvania Youth Camp. It was such an honor to speak at this camp that has played such a major part in developing who I am as a Christian and as a man. I was also so honored to share the pulpit with three men who have played significant roles in shaping who I am today – Gary Horton, Mark Niemann, and Drue Freeman.

The camp theme this year was “The Love of Christ,” and though it was one of our smallest camps, many of us felt it was also one of the best years (despite the absence of several, such as Pete Stadler and Gene Cunningham, who have always been a huge part of camp)! Friendships were made (and deepened), kids were introduced to Christ, competitions were intense, and Christ was worshiped and glorified through music and the study of His Word.