James 1:13-18 Fighting Temptation
* Is is just me or does anyone else struggle with temptation?
The fact of life is that temptation is a fact of life.
No one who has lived for any length of time is immune to it.
But sometimes temptation is misunderstood.
You may recall last week’s message was about the trials of life and their purpose.
James also describes them as “the testing of your faith”; they come from God and are for the specific purpose of building our character and making us complete in Christ.
* Temptations on the other hand are not from God.
James 1:13 James plainly states,
“When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me."
For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;”
Not one time, throughout the history of mankind has any temptation come from God.
Temptations come from Satan and in contrast to the trials that build our character; they are designed to destroy us!
* Although we can’t blame God when we are tempted; it doesn’t keep some from trying.
The blame game has been around since the creation of the first man and woman.
Adam did it in an indirect way after he and Eve gave in to temptation.
Gen 3:12 He said,
"The woman you put here with me-- she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
So from the beginning of time as we know it, man has been looking for someone to blame.
* When things are going well, we have the tendency to take credit for our successes; but when things go wrong; we tend to blame someone else; and sometimes we blame God.
Perhaps if we had a better understanding of what is truly of God and what comes from other sources we would be able to make better choices.
So trials or tests are designed by God to draw us closer to Him and build our character.
Temptations are designed by Satan to draw us away from God and destroy our character.
We mustn’t forget that many of the problems in our lives are brought on by our own actions and the actions of others.
14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.
Just as we can’t blame God when we are tempted; neither can we blame Him when we give in to temptation!
Satan knows us very well.
He knows our needs, our wants, our desires, and the longings of every heart.
And he will use this knowledge to tempt us out of our “own evil desire”.
James reveals the strategy that Satan uses.
* “Dragged away and enticed” is a metaphor that means “to lure forth”.
I used to bass fish a lot. One of the ways to fish is to use bait; whether it’s live or artificial, every kind of fish bait is used to LURE the fish away from its place of safety.
I have never been much of a hunter; but I know those who are.
Before deer season begins many hunters will set up deer feeders.
These feeders are often set on a timer that will throw out corn at certain times of the day.
The deer will get used to eating the corn and regularly collect this manna from heaven.
The corn is used to lure the deer out of the safety of the woods to give the hunter a good shot. Just as fish and deer are lured out of their places of safety and enticed by the look, smell, or taste of bait, so it is when we are tempted.
The lie of temptation is that things we be better if we give in to it.
* WHAT KIND OF LURES DOES SATAN USE?
* THE LURE OF UNCOMMON GROUND!
2 Cor 6:14-15
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?
What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
It makes absolutely no sense at all for a new believer who has made the life altering decision to make Jesus the Lord of their life and has had his/her sins washed away by His blood, to continue in equal fellowship with the forces that kept him away from Christ in the first place.
To go back to the former way of life is like a dog returning to it’s vomit.
2 Cor 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Eph 4:22-24 Listen to how Paul explained it to the believers at Ephesus.
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
* Ill. If you have to break ties to follow Christ then do it!
You can’t serve two masters anyway. They will be in constant conflict.
This doesn’t mean to disassociate with unbelievers; if we did that we would have no opportunity to show them the love of Christ.
Years ago I ran around with a group of great people. We did a lot together.
We weren’t evil by any stretch of the imagination but we did a lot of things that were not Christlike.
But when Janice and I got married and made Jesus the Lord of our lives, a few of those friendships slowly dissolved. We just didn’t have that much in common anymore.
You see there is a huge difference between accepting Christ as your Savior and making Him the Lord of your life. We are in the world but we are not of the world!
Continuing in our former way of life, once we have surrendered to Christ sets us up for failure
* ANOTHER TOOL THAT SATAN USES IS JUSTIFICATION!
Have you ever tried to convince yourself that you needed something that you really didn’t?
Have you ever tried to justify something that you just knew wasn’t good for you.
One definition of justification is “to defend an action by giving reasons for it”.
One of my greatest temptations begins about 10pm every night.
My stomach says “Feed Me” and my mind says, “OK”!
I know it is not good for me, yet I give in to it time and time again.
We can justify almost any action through rationalization.
It’s this conversation that goes on within our minds… or at least I hope it goes on within our minds.
“I’ve been a good boy for several days in a row; so I deserve an evening of indulgence.”
“I know this doesn’t belong to me, but so-and-so already has so much.”
“I’m entitled to satisfaction and if I can’t get it from my spouse I will find it somewhere else.”
Rationalizations like these give Satan a foot hold which lead us out of the SAFETY ZONE.
15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Unchecked temptation will eventually give birth to sin; and unforgiven sin gives birth to death.
When desire conceives, it germinates and begins to grow.
And it will continue to grow unless something disrupts the cycle.
16 Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
The word “perfect” in verse 17 is the same Greek word that James used in 1:4 for “mature”.
When we think of the word “perfect” we usually think of something that is “flawless”.
But the meaning in this passage is more of a “completeness”.
And the word for “good” means “useful or beneficial”.
So, the idea that James is trying to convey is,
“Don’t be deceived! The good gifts of God; those that benefit us (even though we may not see it at the time), and those that move us toward completeness in Christ, (like the testing of our faith), are from God. The other things, like temptation, are not!”
HOW TO FIGHT TEMPTATION!!
1. Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent)
1Thes 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”
Luke 22:40 On the night of His arrest on The Mount of Olives.
On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”
2. Avoiding compromising situations (76 percent)
1 Cor 10:13
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
3. Bible study (66 percent)
“Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the word of God” (Romans 10:17)
Jesus defeated Satan when He was tempted with the word of God.
Read Luke 4:1-13 The Temptation of Christ.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
4. Being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Accountability is paramount in Christianity.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”
Gal 6:2 “Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
We can’t carry each other’s burdens if we don’t know what they are!
It is true that temptation is a fact of life; but we don’t have to give in to it.
Being prepared is half the battle.