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Lesson 6: Real Faith Knows The Truth About Temptation

November 3, 2004


James 1:13-17

The truth about trials is that real faith endures trials allowing them to bring us to maturity and soundness of faith. Our attitude toward trials is to choose joy, as we consider the outcome of the trials. Our action in the trial is to endure – to live under the trial by God’s grace in a way that will honor God.

We have discovered that for the trials God will give us wisdom generously, without finding fault, as we pray with believing hearts.

We have discovered that true faith relies on spiritual resources, not material resources, to endure and runs the race with perseverance knowing a crown awaits us!

Read James 1:13-17

Remember these truths in James can be applied to many different circumstances of our lives, each of them being a principle of living out our faith before God, yet there seems to be a progression of thought in this first chapter. We look for the main truth in these verses and it seems to be temptation. We ask ourselves what does temptation have to do with the truth about trials?

Need some basic definitions:

Trials are those pressures that come from outside ourselves.

Temptation – comes from within ourselves.

                     -- is the opportunity to do something out of the will of God.

A trial can lead someone to yield to temptation, when they do not count it all joy or do not endure. They can instead be tempted to evil –to follow their own desires.

The temptation in the trial is:

1.  trying to find a way out of it (to escape it, somehow)

2.  trying to run away from it (not face it, deny it)

When people do not obey God’s word, when they do not count it all joy which allows perseverance and maturity to be produced, they are more apt to allow their own desires to control them, instead of God’s Spirit.

To help us understand how to avoid being tempted in a trial we need to know:

A. Where temptation comes from – James 1:13-14

1.  Temptation does not come from God

We see this in the context here…When tempted - it’s going to happen – no one should say that God is tempting you. Why?

God can’t be tempted by evil

God does not tempt any one.

These are two truths about God that you can stake your life on! Apparently we aren’t any different than the believers that James is writing to - we all have a tendency to blame God or someone else when we are being tempted and not take responsibility for ourselves. Think about Adam and Eve’s natural tendency as seen in the account in Genesis 3. When God questioned Adam about why he was hiding after he ate the apple, Adam blamed Eve (someone else for his choice), but indirectly he was also blaming God. He says…"The woman YOU put here with me...". Have you ever found yourself doing that – blaming God or someone else for the temptation you have yielded to? We also see Eve blaming the serpent – saying the serpent deceived me…" what is she really saying? "The devil made me do it." It wasn’t God’s fault that Adam fell into temptation. It wasn’t Satan’s fault that Eve sinned. It was their individual choices to yield to temptation.

If we can’t blame God, others, or Satan if we fall into temptation, who is responsible?

     2. Temptation comes from our own evil desires being enticed or dragged away.

What does the scripture say in James chapter 1:14? "But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." Enticed in the Greek is a fishing term referring to being lured by the bait on a hook. Dragged away is a hunting term meaning to trap.

So what’s the root of temptation? What is lured or trapped? Our own evil desire or the lusts of our flesh.

In order to take responsibility for our own choices as we yield to temptation, we need to realize where temptation comes from so that we can nip it in the bud, before it blossoms into sin! It’s our own evil desires that bite the bait. Remember although these are general principles about temptation, we are applying them to the area of temptation during a trial. Our evil desire goes fishing or hunting for a way to escape or run away from the trial. Those evil desires will either bite the hook or be caught in the trap and temptation occurs. Temptation is the opportunity to do things out of God’s will. If we do not recognize the evil desires for what they are or we try to rationalize them in order to accommodate them, we will fall into temptation. We have a choice either to kill the desire or fulfill the desire (Kay Arthur). When we realize that we are being dragged away in temptation by our evil desires, we can nip those thoughts and feelings in the bud.

1.  Our thoughts can lead us down the wrong path. They need to be dealt with. The scripture says take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.  Don’t focus on them and let them lead you down the slippery slope to sin.

2.  Our needs versus our wants need to be identified. Take those feelings of what you think you need to help you through this trial, and figure out if they are wants or needs. God is the one who will supply all you need. For instance, when we are in a marriage and feel unloved, we want a man to love us. We can think that our want is our need and we become ripe ground for an affair when a man begins paying attention to us.

B. Where does temptation lead? James 1:15

Being tempted is not sin. Temptation is the warning signal! If you nurture those evil desires - feeding them, thinking on them – the evil desire is conceived and leads to sin. You disobey God. You miss the mark of His righteousness. You miss the benefit of His provision. You miss the victory that He can give you as you try to find your own provision, your own way, your own victory. Sin is birthed when those evil desires are conceived. Sin occurs when you have taken the opportunity to do something out of God’s will. If you are in the place where you are questioning whether or not what you are desiring has become a sin or not, stop doing it. If you are questioning it, you could easily begin to rationalize it away. You need to realize it and do away with it. Sin leads to death. What kind of death? Death of righteousness, of Christ-likeness, of God’s victorious plan for you! Sin will separate you from God.

If you have Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you have a treasure in an earthen vessel – your body. God’s Spirit lives within you. You can choose to keep walking by the Sprit and not carry out the desires of your flesh. You can exercise your will to please God!

In order for us not to be trapped or enticed we need to know the following:

1. Jesus demonstrated threes things and exhorted his disciples to do three things while He was experiencing one of the greatest testings of his faith in the Garden of Gethsemane. I exhort you to do the same:  Mattthew 26:41

a.  Watch – stay on the alert

b.  Pray – seek God for his way

c.  Remember your Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

2. Do not be deceived – know your God

In verse 16, James exhorts the believers not to be deceived. How? Verse 17 has the answer. You need to know your God, so you can recognize the evil.

1.  God is the giver of good and perfect gifts.

2.  And He doesn’t change.

3.  God will give you a way of escape.

There’s one other truth that keeps us enduring the trial, when all we really want to do is get out of it. I Corinthians 10:13. God will not give us more than we can bear. He knows our limits – how much we can handle. When we go through trials, we may be tempted to escape or run away from them. If the trial is too much for us to endure, God will give us His way of escape. He is faithful!

James is exhorting us to endure the trials, seeking God’s wisdom, believing who He is and what He says He will do, running the race so that we will receive the prize. Resisting temptation.

Oh, how we need to know the truth about trials which are caused by pressures from outside of us and the dangers of temptations from within our own hearts, so that we can receive that crown of life!

Will you run the race?

How are you running?