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How to Escape the Sin Trap

Notes & Transcripts

Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road

Part 3: How to Escape the Sin Trap

James 1:13-18

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - Feb. 26, 2012


*Before we start, it’s important to note that up until now, James has used the word “temptation” as we would use “trials” and “tribulations,” the difficult, hard times in life.

*But in tonight’s Scripture, James is using the word “tempted” the same way we usually do, -- which is being attracted or drawn by sin.

*With that little bit of background, let’s read James 1:13-18, thinking about how to escape from the sin trap.

13. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.

14. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

15. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

16. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

18. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.


*A few years ago, I happened to walk out into our back yard, and I saw something I have never seen in my life. This poor, little cat had her head stuck in our chain-link fence. I don’t know how long she had been there, but it was a while. And that cat was trapped like a rat. There was no way she could pull herself free. She wasn’t too happy about it, but I was able to cut a couple of the wires and she took off like a rocket.

*Trapped: It’s a terrible thing to be trapped. And the worst trap of all is the sin trap. But God has made a way to escape from the sin trap, and James helps us see it right here.

1. First: Don’t try to excuse your sin.

*Verse 13 cautions us against excusing our sin. There James cautions: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”

*God doesn’t want us to make excuses for our sins. But it’s so easy to blame other people! It’s the natural thing to do. And it started all the way back in the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they tried to hide, because they realized they were naked. And in Genesis 3, the Lord said:

11. . . . “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”

12. Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”

13. And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

*And Adam blamed Eve. But he was also trying to blame God, when Adam said, “It was the woman YOU gave me, Lord.” That was the last thing Adam should have done. We must not try to blame God for our sins.

*Eve was a little more on target when she blamed the devil, because he and his servants try to tempt us many ways. He oppresses us emotionally. He accuses us. He lies. And he sends seductive influences to tempt us.

*Many are tempted by godless leaders. Many are tempted by so-called friends. It could be a charming co-worker. It could be something you see on TV. It could be something you see at the store.

*Satan tempts us. But ultimately, we are responsible for our own sin. And that puts us in a desperate situation, because we can’t blame other people, and we certainly can’t blame God.

*God’s Word warns us here: Don’t try to excuse your sin.

2. That’s a vital part of escaping the sin trap. But we also need to examine our sin.

*So James explained how sin works in vs. 14&15. Here James said:

14. . . “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

15. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

[1] As we examine our sin in these verses, we can see that temptation is pervasive. It’s universal. It’s everywhere.

*James tells us that “every man is tempted.” And back up in vs. 13, James didn’t say “if you are tempted.” He said “when you are tempted.” Everyone is tempted. And everyone has given in to temptation. As Paul said in Rom 3:10, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”

[2] Sin is pervasive. -- And it’s seductive.

*James says in vs. 14 that we are “drawn away by (our) own desires and enticed.” Maybe we just take baby steps at first. But before we know it, we have gone farther than we could have possibly imagined.

*Over the years, I have talked to at least 3 couples who went through extreme trouble, because one of them developed a new relationship chatting on the internet. You know, they didn’t log on the first day and say, “I’m ready to get rid of my husband or wife.”

[3] Sin is seductive. -- And it’s instinctive.

*It’s instinctive to us, because of our fallen nature. James says in vs. 14 that we are “drawn away by (our) own lusts or desires.” So, it turns out that the real problem with our sin is not what’s on the outside. But what’s on the inside.

*We are not sinners because we sin. In fact, it is just the opposite. We sin because we are sinners. We are sinners by nature.

*When I go through the plan of salvation, I like to remind people that we are born with this terrible problem of sin. We don’t have to sit our children down and teach them how to be selfish. My parents never had to teach me how to lie. I got that all on my own.

*We are sinners by nature. And there is nothing we can do about it on our own.

[4] Sin is instinctive. -- And it’s deceptive.

*In vs. 14, James says we are “enticed.” The word picture there is like a fish that is lured by bait. “Oh, that looks like a delicious little minnow to eat.” But it is much more than that, and we are deceived.

[5] Sin is deceptive. -- And it is destructive.

*James reminds us of this in vs. 15, where he said, “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

*Sin “brings forth death.” There is a striking picture in the original language. The literal meaning is this: “Sin gives birth to death.”

*Sin “brings forth death:” The death of hopes and dreams, the death of optimism and joy, the death of possibility and opportunity, the death of love, the death of relationships. And without Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, sin brings forth everlasting death in a place called hell.

*For all of these reasons and more, God challenges us to examine our sin.

-How can we escape the sin trap? -- By examining our sin.

3. It also greatly helps to exalt God’s goodness.

*So in vs. 16&17, James tells Christians:

16. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

*James says: “Christians, do not err, don’t be deceived.” Don’t stray or wander away from this important truth. Never forget it: Every good gift is from above, and has come down from our Father in heaven.

[1] Here we see that God’s giving is consistent.

*God is so good to us. And He is always good to us. Verse 17 tells us that He never changes. The sun will set and leave us in darkness. But the Father of Lights will always shine on us! God’s Word shows us over and over how good He is.

[2] His giving is consistent. -- And it’s complete.

*God doesn’t leave any good thing out. That’s the idea in vs. 17, when James talks about perfect gifts. God doesn’t leave anything out! And He has given us too many gifts to list! Every good thing comes from God. We must never forget that!

*As David said in Psalm 103:

1. Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

2. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

3. Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

4. Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

5. Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

*God’s good giving is consistent and complete. Every good thing we have has come from Him. And we ought to appreciate it.

*Pastor Jon Allen got a wake-up call on this one day when he took his two boys to Burger King. Collin was 8, and Nathaniel was 2.

*Dad and Collin wolfed down their food, but the 2-yr-old was taking his time. And as dad waited for his little boy to finish, he reached over to Nathaniel’s little pile of French fries and took one. Nathaniel scowled at his dad and yelled, “Mine!” Then, he held the small bag of fries as far away from Jon as he possibly could.

*Jon was stunned and he said that almost instantly, 4 things popped into his mind:

1-“You ungrateful little chump! Where do you think these fried potatoes came from anyway? Don’t you understand the source? I bought them. I carried them. I took the paper off your straw. I opened the ketchup package. How can you behave like this?”

2-Then Jon thought: “Don’t you realize that if I wanted to, I could take them all away from you in a heartbeat? You don’t realize who you’re dealing with! If I didn’t love you, if you were anyone else and you acted like this, I might just eat them all. On the other hand, I could cover you in French fries if I wanted to. -- I could bury you in these greasy things.”

3-Then he thought: “If you love me, if you really love me, is it really too much to let me have one lousy French fry? How could you begrudge me so little when I would willingly give you everything I have?”

4-Then as they left the restaurant, a fourth thing flashed into Jon’s mind, not a thought as such, but more like God spoke to him, and said, “Hey Jon. -- How does it feel?” (1)

*It really does help us to escape the sin trap when we appreciate God’s goodness to us, and exalt Him for it.

4. But we also need to embrace the word of truth.

*The most important thing we can do to escape the sin trap is embrace God’s truth, believe in the word of truth, trust in God’s truth. So we see the crucial importance of God’s Word in vs. 18, where James told believers: “Of His (i.e. God’s) own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

[1] Notice that trusting in the word of truth gives us new birth.

*As James tells Christians in vs. 18, “Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth. . .”

-The NIV says: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth. . .”

-The NLT says: “In his goodness he chose to make us His own children by giving us His true word. . .”

-And the AMP says: “It was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth.”

*This is the most awesome thing about the Word of God: It has the power to save us. It has the power to give us new spiritual birth. Spiritual Birth always comes through God’s Word, and it only comes through God’s Word.

*Do you remember what the Lord said when He had gone without food for 40 days, and Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread? -- Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4)

*And Peter said that Christians have “been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23). This new birth is what James is talking about in vs. 18.

*We must embrace the Word of Truth about our sins:

-In Rom 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

-And in Rom 6:23, “The wages of sin is death.”

*We also must embrace the Word of Truth about our Savior.

-We trust the word of truth about Christ’s death on the cross for our sins, and His victory over death, when He rose again.

*Romans 5:6-10 explained it to Christians this way:

6. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

7. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

8. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

10. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

*When we receive this Word of Truth by receiving Jesus as our Lord & Savior, we are born again with eternal life by the Holy Spirit of God. God reveals and we receive. That’s how it works.

[2] Trusting in the word of truth gives us new birth, and new belonging.

*In vs. 18 James calls us firstfruits. That meant something very special to the Jewish Christians who first received this letter, because the firstborn of the flocks and the first food gathered at harvest time were presented to God every year at Pentecost. They were special. They belonged to God.

*So, this means that we are special. We belong to God! And this all happens when we receive His Truth.

*It is hard to imagine how hard I was against the things of God when I was a young man. I was so deceived about so much. I can still remember me as a 17-year-old high school student, sitting in the driveway with my good friend Andy.

-It was a Sunday morning, and we had been out partying all night. (I broke my mother’s heart many times.) I remember us laughing as we talked about Christians. And we said, “Yeah: What would you rather do? Go to Heaven and be with your grandmother? Or go to hell and be with all your friends?”

*We were so blind that we both agreed we would rather go to hell.

*Many things happened to get me to the cross. God used faithful witnesses, circumstances, a miracle, people’s prayer, and a simple invitation to church. But it all came down to the moment I said, “This is true. The Bible is true. The gospel is true!” I embraced the word of truth, and God saved my soul.

*The only way to really escape the sin trap is to embrace God’s truth about the cross of Jesus Christ.

*Of course, Christians can still fall into the trap of sin. That’s why 1 John 1:8-9 says:

8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

*So let’s put it all together. How can we escape the sin trap?

-Don’t try to excuse your sin.

-Examine your sin.

-And exalt God’s goodness.

-But most important of all: Embrace God’s truth about the cross of Jesus Christ.

*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

1. Found in an issue of “Illustration Digest” by Jon Allen

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