Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Book of James Part 5: Dealing with Temptation

 

James Epistle Part 5: Dealing with Temptation


Previous messages by Rev. B. A. Shields found here

 

Book of James

Part 5: Dealing with Temptation

By Rev. Bruce A. Shields

 

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SERMON TIMELINE

1.      Introduction to the Book of James

2.     Trials and Temptation

3.     Gaining Wisdom

4.     Poverty & Wealth

5.     Dealing with Temptation

 

 

INTRODUCTION

Today is Sunday. June 9th, 2024

          We have only covered the first 11 verses of the Book of James, and already we have examined trials a tribulations, gaining the wisdom of God’s word for our growth and defense against temptation, how poverty and wealth can each bring their own temptations to sin against God, and this week we will look at verses 12-18 of the first chapter of James to gain understanding of dealing with temptation in our Christian life.

 

          Dealing with temptation to sin is probably one of the most challenging aspects of the Christian walk. This is especially true for the new Christian. It can be frustrating to know that the Lord can forgive your sins, only to find yourself being tempted with the very things you were forgiven of.

 

          Temptation is not the sin. Evil in this world will walk you right up to the line, holding your hand, encouraging, but you must make the conscious decision to take that step over the line, crossing the threshold of temptation into the work of iniquity.

 

          James gives us the word of God in recognizing and dealing with the temptation to sin. The word offers a promise of God to those who endure the temptation without surrender, a caution to not challenge the source of the temptation, and an understanding of how sin develops out of temptation.

 

SCRIPTURE REFERENCE

James 1:12-18

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has [been approved] passed the test, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully matured, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or [shifting shadow] shadow of turning. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”

I.            THE PROMISE OF GOD

a.   The man who endures temptation will be “blessed”

                                  i.    The Greek word used here is makarios, which means both happy and blessed.

                                ii.    The verse then explains why the one who overcomes is experiencing this joy.

 

b.   After he has “passed the test” he receives the “Crown of Life”

                                  i.     There are five crowns spoken of in scripture

1.    Imperishable Crown – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

a.   Paul says that the wreath of leaves the winner of a race receives will soon to turn brittle and fall apart. But not the imperishable heavenly crown; faithful endurance wins a heavenly reward which is “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading, having been kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:4).

2.   Crown of Rejoicing – 1 Thessalonians 2:19

a.   The crown of rejoicing will be our reward where “God will wipe away every tear . . . and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

 

3.   Crown of Righteousness – 2 Timothy 4:8

a.   Through enduring discouragements, persecutions, sufferings, or even death, we know our reward is with Christ in eternity (Philippians 3:20).

b.   The Crown of Righteousness is not for those who depend upon their own sense of righteousness or of their own works, instead, we inherit this crown through the righteousness of Christ which is what gives us a right to it, and without which it cannot be obtained.

 

4.   Crown of Glory – 1 Peter 5:4

a.   It recognizes that believers are incredibly blessed to enter into the kingdom, into the very likeness of Christ Himself. As Paul said, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

 

5.   Crown of Life – James 1:12

a.   Revelation 2:10 “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will never be hurt by the second death.’”

 

                                                                                  i.    REMEMBER what is said here in Revelation 2:10!

1.    It speaks of remaining faithful unto death and you will receive the Crown of Life.

2.   He who “overcomes” will NEVER be hurt by the second death.

                                                                                ii.    Why is this important?

1.    If one does NOT remain faithful?

a.    No Crown of Life

b.   Didn’t overcome

c.    Will suffer the “second death”

                                                                              iii.    James speaks of the Crown of Life in this letter, and in a few chapters will give a warning to those who were overcomers, but strayed. He also explains in James 5:19-20 “My brothers, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

b.   But I thought you said “once saved, always saved?”

                                                                                  i.    YES! Once saved, there is nothing more you must do to “keep being saved” other than not commit the only unforgivable sin, which is blaspheming the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 12:31)

                                                                                ii.    You cannot reject the Holy Spirit and expect to receive the Crown of Life.

                                                                              iii.    You do this by, as James puts it, “straying from the truth.” Those who stray from the truth DID NOT endure, and therefore have no Crown of Life.

                                                                               iv.    If you do not return to the truth, the word of God says in James 5:20 your soul will suffer death. How does ones soul suffer death? The second death of Revelation 2:10 because you do not have the Crown of Life.

 

c.    Be Encouraged!

                                  i.    Knowing God is a righteous and holy God, He would not tell us to do anything we were incapable of accomplishing either through the abilities He endowed us with, or by His power and might.

                                ii.    So when the word of God tells us to be overcomers, that literally means it IS POSSIBLE to overcome temptation!

                              iii.    Enduring temptation and not surrendering to it IS POSSIBLE, and millions of followers of Christ have done it!

                               iv.    Matthew 24:13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”

 

II.          THE CAUTION ABOUT TEMPTATION

a.   When we do face temptation

                                  i.    Let no one say they were tempted by God!

                                ii.    You cannot blame God for temptation.

1.    He may allow temptation (we talked before about how enduring trials strengthens you and grows you spiritually)

2.   He may test you (a test is not temptation, and will never be a temptation to sin)

a.   Testing is another way God grows us

b.   Without enduring trials, or passing tests, it is impossible to grow spiritually

                              iii.    God is holy and cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone to do evil.

 

b.   Verse 16-18 So do not be deceived into thinking such things

                                  i.    God is the source of Good, evil is the absence of God’s goodness

                                ii.    Every good and perfect gift comes from Him

                              iii.    1 Peter 1:22-23 says that God brought us forth by the “Word of Truth” so that we (followers of Jesus) may be a kind of firstfruits…cream of the crop of His creation.

 

III.       THE UNDERSTANDING OF SIN

a.   How sin develops from temptation

                                  i.    James 1:14 says stage one is temptation

1.    This stage involves two things

a.   Lust / strong desire for something

b.   Enticement / opportunity or encouragement to satisfy that desire

2.   Desire + Opportunity = Temptation

a.   When I was a kid and Star Wars was released our family watched it at the drive-in. For the millennials, Zs, and Alphas (which is somewhat an ironic generational name considering most are beta), but drive-ins were a big parking lot with a 100’ wide screen, speakers for every car to hang on your window and a concession stand with the best candy, popcorn and pulled pork sandwiches in the world.

I loved Star Wars. When they released the toys, I wanted them, badly.

 

I went to a friends house to play one day, and he had some of the toys. I wanted one so bad, I was tempted to steal one of his action figures. Now, temptation is not a sin. Jesus shows us this in Hebrews 4:15.

I had the desire, and I had the opportunity, and this was temptation.

 

                                ii.    Stage two takes the step from temptation to sin, ACTION

1.    Now, if I had endured the temptation, and not taken anything, that would have grown me, made me stronger, made it easier for me to resist the next temptation. That endurance through temptation grows us.

Just like desire + opportunity = temptation

2.   desire + opportunity + ACTION = sin

a.   I stole from my friend.

b.   And what is the consequence for unforgiven sin? It brings death.

                                                                                  i.    What death? Don’t we all die anyway?

                                                                                ii.    One who does not endure, does not receive the Crown of Life. With no Crown of Life, your soul suffers the second death of Revelation 2:10

3.   Romans 6:23 “wages of sin”; Revelation 21:8 “eternal punishment”

 

                              iii.    HOWEVER, there can be a stage three!

1.    Desire + opportunity + Action + {what you choose to do about it} = {what happens because of it}

a.   What you do about it

                                                                                  i.    If you do nothing, wages of sin is death and eternal punishment

                                                                                ii.    If you confess and repent?

1.    1 John 1:8-9 “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 righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

b.   HOW to overcome sin

                                  i.    Change the equation

1.    Changing our desires, because desire is where temptation begins

2.   Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:24 tell us part of our Christian growth is to change our desires.

3.   I could have done this as a kid in a few different ways.

a.   Acknowledge stealing is a sin against God (wasn’t raised in a Christian home)

b.   Think about how it would hurt my friend and friendship

c.    Think about how selfish it was

d.   Put myself in his shoes

                                ii.    Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.”

                              iii.    Matthew 4:3-10

                               iv.    As we read the word of God, see His love, long-suffering and mercy towards us, we desire to serve Him. Psalm 116:12-14

                                 v.    As we read of sin and its consequences, we come to hate it. Psalm 119:104

                               vi.    As we grow in the Lord, our desire will change. We will become less likely to be lead by our flesh, and more by the spirit as we grow and learn to walk in the spirit of God.

 

c.    Other ways to overcome sin

                                  i.    Other than changing our desire through the study of God;s Word, we can limit our opportunities.

1.    Jesus taught we can ask for God’s help in this in Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41

                                ii.    We can purposefully avoid situations like David in Psalm 101:3-4, or Job in Job 31:1

                              iii.    We can avoid people who sin and their evil behavior which encourages you to sin with them (Psalm 101:6-7; 1 Corinthians 15:33)

 

d.   Doing so will never eliminate every desire or opportunity…

                                  i.    We MUST exercise the Spiritual Fruit of SELF-CONTROL

                                ii.    It does not become a sin until ACTION is taken

1.    Galatians 5:22-23 fruit of the Spirit

2.   Ephesians 3:16 Holy Spirit gives us strength

3.   Romans 8:12-13 the Spirit gives us the ability to put to death deeds of the flesh!

4.   Philippians 4:13 we can do ALL THINGS through Him who strengthens us

 

1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

 

CONCLUSION

          By the Blood of Jesus we are forgiven of sins past (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5)

 

          By the Blood of Jesus we can be forgiven of sins present through confession and repentance (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)

 

          Let us turn to the Holy Spirit, rely on the strength of Him who is within us, change our desires, avoid sinful opportunities, and endure temptation.

 

          Each time we do, we will be that much more stronger as we grow spiritually mature in Christ Jesus!

         

 

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