Summary: The struggle with temptation is real. This passage focuses on where temptation originates and how we can overcome it.
We’ve been working our way through the Book of James. The last two weeks, we have looked at how we can have joy when the trials and temptations of life come our way. Tonight, we are going to look specifically at temptation.
I ask you, “Where does Temptation come from”?
Sometimes the desire and craving for things are almost unbearable. We see something and we know that it’s wrong, that we shouldn’t have it or do it, but the desire and craving become so strong that we can hardly stand it. We crave things like:
• Having your own way. Did you realize that that in itself is temptation?
• Doing your own thing.
• Immoral sex
• Possessions in general
• Wanting recognition or authority is also a temptation.
• Position or a craving for advancement in a career.
No matter what it is, even if we try to justify it and say that it is acceptable, it is sin if God says that it’s wrong and if it hurts our bodies or spirits. Is anyone here tonight, exempt from temptation? So, I ask again, “Where does temptation come from?” Take any of the things I just mentioned, why do we crave them? What causes the urge for them? Knowing the origin of temptation will help us tremendously in conquering the trials. So, let’s see what James tells us.
READ v. 13. Did you ever notice how people always blame someone else for tempting them and leading them into sin? For instance, when Adam and Eve fell into sin, God found Adam and asked him what had happened. Adam, trying to escape the guilt, did just what all of us are prone to do: he blamed the woman. In fact, Adam kind of made it sound like it was God’s fault. He said, “the woman who YOU put here with me tempted me.” (Genesis 3:12) Then, when God turned to Eve she said the serpent deceived her. The point is this: we seldom want to take responsibility for our own wrong doing.
• Man blames woman and woman blames man.
• Spouse blames spouse
• Child blames parent and parent blames child.
• Student blames teacher and the teacher blames the school.
We even have the tendency to joke about temptation and sin saying things like, “If it hadn’t been there, I wouldn’t have done it.” It may be a second helping of food or an attractive woman or man but we seldom take responsibility for having taken it. What we do is justify our behavior and try to quiet our conscience by blaming others, even blaming God. How do we blame God?
• By wondering why God ever let such a thing happen to us. Why did God let me marry such a man? Why did God let me have such an accident?
• By thinking that God created us with desires and passions. So, when we slip here and there, He will understand and forgive us.
• By thinking that God made the world as it is so if we indulge here and there, He will understand. We excuse ourselves with the thought that indulgence is understood by God,
Of course, God did create all things in their raw form, and He created us with desires and cravings. God created food and He gave us a desire for food so that we would eat. God gave man to woman and woman to man to keep the human race going but God didn’t make us to desire and then to desire for more and more. Don’t blame that on God.
God isn’t the one who arouses lustful desires and cravings within us. Note again what verse 13 says. READ. So, first, God can’t be tempted by evil. By His very nature God can have absolutely nothing to do with evil or temptation. To tempt a person is an evil thing to do. It takes an empty, carnal, self-seeking, person to entice and seduce another person to do the forbidden thing. And God is not like that. He’s the opposite of that. His holiness doesn’t allow Him to be tempted to do evil. He can’t be tempted to tempt man to do such an unholy thing.
Second, not only can God not be tempted by evil but God doesn’t tempt any person. When a person is tempted to do something forbidden, it’s not of God.
READ verses 14-16. Ok. Let’s break these verses down. Temptation is of man, of his own lust. And these verses show us that there are three steps involved in temptation and sin. If we are going to consistently conquer temptation, we must understand these three steps.
1. There is lust and enticement. That’s what v. 14 is saying. Every person—and there are no exceptions—is tempted when they are drawn away by their own evil desire and enticed. Those words “evil desire” mean to crave either good or evil. There are good desires and bad desires.