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IRON OR CLAY

Dr. D. K. Olukoya

The topic of our message this week is entitled, “Iron or Clay.”

Luke 4:1- 7: “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, if thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, it is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. (Not some of it, every word). And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me, and to whoever I will I give it. (Wonderful, Jesus did not argue at all. That is why they call the devil the god of this world). If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Perhaps, we can now understand why some people have charms for making money at home. The devil is the god of this world and has power over these things.

Verses 8-13: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me Satan: (or put in our local language, get lost or go and jump into the lagoon). For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, (Note the ‘if,’) cast thyself down from hence. For it is written, (that is the devil quoting the Bible) He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee. And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season.” Meaning that he would come back. When the devil left Jesus, he began to speak to the scribes and the Pharisees and his influence made them to argue with Jesus. When he finished with the Pharisees and the scribes, he went to Herod, who was also looking for Jesus. After that, he went to Pilate, and then to the cross.

The above passage gives us so much information. It talks about the time of temptation. We can see that immediately after the anointing of Jesus, then came temptation. Immediately after the heavenly voice, came the temptation. Immediately after the defeat of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, came the bitter water of Marah. After a mountain-top experience, prepare for a valley attack. And the higher and glorious the mountain-top experience is, the deeper the valley. The more the power, the more the demand.

Let us consider a simple example of Elijah and Elisha. Elijah was a man of fire, they call him the prophet of fire. He was the first prophet to call fire down from heaven. There was a time fifty soldiers plus one captain came against him and said, “If thou be a man of God, come down.” He looked at them and said, “Well if I am a man of God, I will not come down but let fire come down.” And fire came down and roasted the fifty-one people. Another group of soldiers came, fifty of them plus one captain again, and said the same thing to him, “If thou be man of God, come down.” He replied again, “If I be a man of God, I refuse to come down. Let fire come down.” And fire came down and roasted the fifty-one people making a hundred and two roasted soldiers on the ground. A third consignment of fifty soldiers and one captain was sent; but this captain had some home training. When he came to Elijah and saw a hundred and two roasted people on the floor, he took a different approach. He said, “My father, please, have mercy on us,” and he came down. So the last captain and his group were not destroyed.

A hundred and two soldiers were sent against Elijah while Elisha, the man who had a double portion of his anointing, had a whole army sent against him. But thank God for the God of Elisha who got them so confused that they asked Elisha where was Elisha? And Elisha said, “Oh, he is not here, just follow me.” And they followed him whom they were looking for until they were put in bondage.

So, after a mountain-top experience, prepare for a valley attack. Some people lose their miracles after they have prayed and the Lord has laid hands on them because they do not know that they would be challenged and then problem comes. Let us look at another example Luke 9. Luke 9:28 – 31:“And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias. Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” So they had this mountain-top experience. Verses 36 – 37: “And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen. And it came to pass that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And behold, a man of the company cried out saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him.” After that mountain-top experience, look at what was waiting for them at the valley. Promotion and testing go together. God’s microscope for revealing the kind of persons we are or what is hidden in us is temptation. 2 Corinthians 12: 2 - 7 : here was Paul saying, “I knew a man in Christ about fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell or whether out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up in paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.” Here was a man from the third heavens now facing a valley experience. Promotion and testing; they go together. God’s microscope of revealing our hidden evil habit is temptation. When temptation faces you, you either become iron or clay. You can mould the clay to what you want but the iron stands firm. Meaning that if you are a clay, temptation can melt and remould you but an iron person would remain unmoulded. My first question to you is, when temptation comes, do you become iron or clay? Are you the kind of person that temptation will mould to what it wants? Or you can stand and say no to it?

WHAT IS TEMPTATION?

Temptation is that which persuades a person to do something wrong or foolish. When a person is tempted, the person could walk far away from the Lord, or do things that he is not supposed to do. There is something we call evil magnet. It magnetizes people to what will destroy them. The Bible says, there is a road that seemeth good unto man, but the end, which only God can see, thereof is death. Why do people move towards such a way? There is an evil magnet pulling them there. Therefore, I would like you to pray the following prayer point with serious aggression: “I refuse to be pulled by any satanic magnet, in the name of Jesus.”

WHEN DOES TEMPTATION COME?

Temptation comes when a person walks far away from the Lord or when he is not close to the Saviour or he walks away like Peter. The farther you are from the shepherd of the fold, the easier it is for the Amalekites to catch you.

Temptation comes when you are warming yourself in the fire of the enemy. When you are using the enemy’s method to assist yourself, like Peter was warming himself in the fire of the enemy and the enemy came to him and asked, “Are you one of them?” He said no and began to curse and swear.

Temptation comes when you refuse to make covenant with your eyes. If you allow your eyes to look at anything or any direction, temptation will follow.

Temptation comes when you are moving faster than God. Some people are moving faster than God. When God says, “Be patient,” and you say, “No, it must happen now. My colleagues are doing it, so it has to be done, and it has to be now.” When you move faster than God, temptation must happen. When God says by May next year, you shall go to so, so place and the May has not arrived, and you are in too much of a hurry to get there, things will go wrong.

Temptation comes when you allow covetousness to take over your life. What is covetousness? It is refusing to cut your coat according to your cloth. Covetousness will open you up to temptation.

A big friend of mine came crying, several years back. He had just retired from public service. He collected all his entitlement and was planning what to do with it when suddenly some people came and introduced a business to him. They brought some dark pieces of paper cut like money and told him that they would become dollar bills if washed with a particular liquid. They told him how much the substance would cost. He did a quick calculation and was happy with what would be his share of the deal. He did not tell his wife nor anybody. He gave them all his entitlement and they told him that would only buy one component out of three needed for the business that he should bring more. He borrowed some money and took it to them. They still demanded for more. They produced two dollars for him, so he was convinced. This was an educated man. As he was giving them the third instalment, a police man suddenly appeared from nowhere and said, “Sir, what are you doing here?” He said, “I have business to do with these people.” “Don’t you know that this business is illegal? You as former top civil servant, educated in England, how can you be moving about with thieves like these to wreck the economy of your country?” asked the policeman. The policeman arrested all of them. The man began to shake and to beg. The policeman asked him which secondary school he attended. He mentioned it. It happened to be one of the best secondary schools in town. The policeman said, “You are a disgrace to that school.” He told the policeman to ask those people to give him back his money and he will go his way. The policeman then said, “I am talking to you about the offence you committed and jail, and you are talking about getting your money back. He began to prostrate and beg the policeman whom he did not know was part of them. The policeman closed his eyes and said, “Before I open my eyes run out of this place.” The man fled out. And that was the end of entitlement and the money he borrowed. He wanted to get rich quick. The Bible says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof is death.”

Temptation comes when the fowler has set a net for you without your knowledge.

Temptation bombards a person and wins when the person is not broken. Unbroken people are meat in the mouth of temptation.

When temptation comes, you must understand its nature. Our text in Luke chapter 4 makes us to understand that temptation is not sin. Hebrews 4:15: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” So Jesus was tempted, yet He did not fall. Therefore, temptation itself is not sin. It is when you yield to it that it becomes a sin. Martin Luther said, “I may not be able to prevent birds from flying over my head, but I can prevent them from building their nest on my head.” It is the same thing with temptation. You may not be able to prevent a temptation from coming, but you can prevent it from building a house in your spirit. God Himself sometimes allows it to happen to test the kind of person you are. It is easy to be screaming, “I trust myself, I cannot do that kind of thing.” Let the temptation come, then we see how you will handle it.

Sometime ago, in a church I used to attend, we invited a man who was 85 years old. He was the oldest man I ever saw on the pulpit. He stood there with his old coat and sang a popular song which says, “There is victory within my soul, for the spirit with me abide. Let the waves of temptation roll, Jesus will keep 'em whatsoever happens, victory in my soul.” After the song, he asked a question: “How many of you want victory?” Everybody raised their hands. He said, “If you want victory, shout Alleluia,” and everybody shouted. Then he faced us again and said, “How many of you want war?” Nobody put a hand up. Then the man said, “Where will the victory come from? How can there be victory when there is no war?” For the enemy to come against you and flee from you, you must first of all come against him. So when temptation comes and you are able to stand, it is then we know that you have passed. It is God that tests the nature of what we are. A man of God once said that temptation is devil whistling at the key hole of your house. When you open the door and let him in, then he gets you. He also said that he may be whistling till day break for you to let him in. Some people instead of fleeing from temptation, would be arguing or debating.

As a Christian, if you know that a particular brother or sister can make you to fall into sin, in spite of your spiritual level, or no matter how much you have promised God, or how much fire prayer or fasting you have done, immediately this person comes along, you become jelly, the only solution is to flee if you are a serious person. The Bible says flee from all appearances of evil, that is, don’t wait for the thing to become evil before you flee.

Potiphar’s wife said to Joseph, “Come lie with me.” Likewise, there are many things in the street too crying to us day and night saying, “Come, lie with me.” For example, pornographic materials, the gadgets of Jezebel, e.t.c. Joseph had the opportunity of having a free woman who was willing, and also the Bible says that she was beautiful. Joseph had many things to his advantage. If he wanted to do it, nobody would have seen them. It was a satanic fringe benefit for a houseboy like him. Everyday the woman kept urging him to lie with her. He did not do what a lot of people would have done today. Some people today would have said, “Okay, just a peck,” and like that, many men and women have pecked their ways to hell fire and into destruction.

If Joseph had cooperated with Portiphar’s wife, he would not have reached his goal. Temptations are set-ups by the enemy to divert us from our divine destiny. We are the ones who do not know what we are doing sometimes, but the enemy knows what he is doing. The temptation of Joseph was a strategy of the enemy to keep him from fulfilling his divine destiny. That would have been the end of Joseph and God who would not permit a vacuum in His programme would have looked for someone else. One of the most powerful confessions you can make upon your life is, “I will reach my goal, in Jesus’ name.” What do I mean by if Joseph had cooperated with that woman, he would not have reached his goal? If he had cooperated with her, he would not have been thrown into prison from where he was catapulted to the palace. It was when he fled from the woman that she told lies against him and he was put in prison. The woman thought she had done Joseph harm not knowing that she had only promoted him. Likewise, many sisters would not have been where they are today, if they opened their mouths and said no to a particular man at a particular time. Many brothers too, would not have been where they are now, if at a particular time, they had tightened the belt of their trousers and refused to open it. They would still have been okay. So, yielding to temptation can alter a person’s divine programme for life. Temptation itself must not lead to sin. It did not do so with Christ, so it need not do so with us.

We have a lot of satanic agents all over the place. Some of them are running after ministers, some are running after would-be ministers of God. Just like we have male hunters, hunting for women of God to pull down, we have female hunters too, hunting for men of God to pull down. At a crusade held sometime ago, two girls came forward crying. They were undergraduates in one of our universities. Everyone tried to stop them but they continued crying. When asked why they were crying, they said that both of them belonged to the same demonic group and that every man that had ever slept with them would never live longer than fifty years, and their children too will die young and it had already began to happen. They brought out a newspaper and showed us the obituary of two of them who died at 39 and 42. These two girls have repented, got born-again, and are now children of God, but some men are now in hell fire because of them.

James 1:13-14:“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.” It is the lust inside the heart of a man that cooperates with the enemy and allows him to be dragged away. This is why brokenness is very important. When you are broken, certain things will not interfere with your spiritual life any more. God will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able to bear but it is not the same with those who voluntarily go into temptation. When satan invited Eve to come and look, what she should have done was to run. Samson would have fled instead of telling stories: “If you take this, I will lose my power.”

WHAT IS THE RESULT OF TEMPTATION?

No man can be the same after temptation. It is not possible. Temptation can either make or mar you. But God wants it to make us while the devil wants is to mar us. It is left to us to decide what we want. Temptation should prove and improve our faith. Consider this important truth: Every temptation is an opportunity for you to get nearer to God. You may decide to flunk the opportunity or use it to a divine advantage.

Analyse your temptations and you will find out the kind of person you are. You will know who you are by what tempts you. If it is money, opposite sex, or bad temper, there is something within you that needs to go. By the time you finish the analysis, you would have defined yourself, and be able to say, “This is me.”

To pray against temptation and then be careless, is like you putting your finger inside fire and saying, “Father, in the name of Jesus, this must not burn my finger. I command you fire not to burn it,” whereas you have put your finger in the fire.

No one can be delivered from temptation. You have to be determined to do your best to get out of it. The greatest temptation comes to us when we are off duty as Christians. But it is a big truth that God’s presence is a good remedy against temptation.

Trying to change your skin to look like a white woman's is an abomination unto the Lord. That thing that is telling you to change the colour of your skin wants to destroy you. It is telling you to improve on what God has done. People who do that always have one excuse: “I am fighting pimples.” Instead of saying, “Well, I think I will look more beautiful if I am lighter,” which is the truth. Such people are not spiritually serious. The black woman’s hair can only grow longer naturally because of the way God created it. But when you go to the market and buy extra attachment or what we call in deliverance ‘dead men’s bone’ and you attach it to make your hair longer, you are courting trouble. I wonder how somebody who has the property of the enemy can command the enemy to go. A lot of spinsters are crying to God to give them godly husbands while they themselves are not godly. Some Christian sisters dress like prostitutes. Some who are not satisfied with one pair of hole in their ears which their parents put there ignorantly, punch two or more on their ears.

When you encourage the enemy, he will get strong. If you know that you are from a background that requires serious warfare for you to deliver yourself, you don’t spend time joking or doing unnecessary things. Sometime ago, a lady was brought to us for prayers and immediately we said, “Father, in the name of Jesus, lay your hands of fire upon this sister,” she began to dance like Indians. When we asked her to stop dancing, she said she couldn’t and did not know why she couldn’t. The reason she could not stop was because there was a spirit inside her doing the dancing. But the same girl would wear long trousers and put on attachments on her head. Such people waste the time of ministers of God.

God is not going to promote untested men and women. The world is God’s testing station. It is on this earth that you can prove to God that you are qualified for heaven. Most of the time, temptations come as a result of the desire of old nature in us.

HOW DO YOU OVERCOME TEMPTATION?

1. Kill the flesh: When you kill your flesh, you will be dead to temptation. It will no longer be a question of you battling with it. For example, as a man, if a free girl enters your sitting room and you go to the toilet and start praying instead of you to run out of the place, it means something within you is still interested. When you are dead to it, it will have no effect on you. Let the flesh die, that is, be broken. Unbroken people disgrace the church, disgrace God and cause problems.

2. Avoid all evil influences: Much of the music, literature, television programmes and movies in our society are polluted. It is commonly said that “Out of sight is out of mind. When you know that something is an evil influence, you stay clear from it. If you have a friend who is always talking fornication, adultery, and all kinds of things that are ungodly, let him go his own way. If as a Christian you still entertain your visitors with alcohol, remember the Bible says, “Woe unto him that gives his neighbour drink. You must not encourage your friends to go to hell fire. Don’t be a stumbling block to them.

3. Build your life on the word of God: Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword. Know the ‘it is written’ of every situation you find yourself.

4. Flee from all appearances of evil: Don’t wait for it to materialise, run away from all those things that cry, “Come and lie with us,” like Joseph did.

5. Resist the devil: James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee from us.

If you cannot control your temper, you won't be able to control anything. If you don’t have the stamina to say no to the flesh, you cannot resist temptation. Until you defeat lust, forget about pulling down strongholds. In our nation now, many people are copying American Christianity. Some people decorate their churches all over with flags as if that is the Spirit of God. Some speak American English, and pray American prayer against Nigerian demons. Sometime ago, some people who were going out for evangelism and were singing, “We are able to go up and take that country, to possess our land from Jordan to the sea, though the devil may be on our way to hinder, God will surely give us victory. Move on to the righteous side.” They were singing that they were going to take the country with attachment, painted lips and fingers. Some of the women ministers were wearing skirts that you could see the lining of their underwears from outside. They wanted to take the country when they themselves have already been taken.

A believer must learn to rule the flesh by the spirit which is empowered by the Holy Ghost. You change from the inside to the outside. When your body is in subjection to your spirit, God will do wonders in your life. Before temptation even comes, you would have made up your mind that you will obey the word of God.

I would like you to confess your sins to the Lord and tell Him that you are sorry for the times when the waves of temptation came, and you could not stand your ground, the times that you compromised your faith, the time you could not stand up for the truth, the time you constituted a stumbling block. Ask the Lord to help you out.

PRAYER POINTS

1. I bind every coffin spirit, in the name of Jesus.
2. I cast every serpent of infirmity into the fire of judgment, in the name of Jesus.
3. Let every evil challenger fall after the order of Goliath, in Jesus' name.
4. I refuse to partake in all the tragedies that are left in this year, in the name of Jesus.
5. Let my blessing pursue and overtake me from the North, South, East and West, in Jesus’ name.
6. Every garment of poverty, be roasted, in the name of Jesus.
7. I paralyze every evil carryover, in the name of Jesus.
8. I refuse to be defeated in battle, in the name of Jesus.
9. Let my spiritual life be too hot for the devil to handle, in Jesus' name.
10. I paralyze every satanic embarrassment, in the name of Jesus.
11. Every serpent dispatched against me, bite yourself, in Jesus' name.
13. You household strong man, carry your load of problems, in the name of Jesus.
14. You household strongman, carry your load of backwardness, in the name of Jesus.
15 You household strongman, carry your load of wickedness, in the name of Jesus.