Summary: Be realistic (being honest about it), responsible (understand you have the power to choose right), ready (be on your guard), and refocused on the goodness of God, and we will find the strength to overcome temptation.
Today I want to talk about man’s oldest problem – temptation; it goes back all the way to Adam.
• We all face it. Even when you know what is right to do, it is difficult to say “No.”
• Oscar Wilde once said, “I can withstand anything except temptation.”
• People say the only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it. God’s way is different.
Let’s look at James 1:12-18
The Bible talks about two different kinds of testing. One is called trial. The other is called temptation.
• Trials are situations designed by God in order to help us grow. Temptations are designed by the devil to cause us to sin.
The Bible says “blessed is the man who perseveres (stand firm) under trial….” (1:12)
• It’s amazing. You can turn the table around and make a trial in your life into something of a blessing to you! And there is a prize, a reward for enduring through a trial. “…he will receive the crown of life that God has promised.”
• This may not mean a literal crown that you can wear on your head. It means the BEST of life. If you endure trials, you are able to experience the abundant life that God has promised to those who love Him. God uses trials to help us grow.
But that is not the case with temptation.
• Its aim is to lead us to sin, to do anything that is against God’s will. It is not from God.
• James here gives us a few principles we can learn.
1. Be REALISTIC – Be Honest About It
He says, “When tempted” (v.13) and not “If tempted…” You cannot avoid them. They will come. You cannot be immune from it.
• If you hear a pious person says, "I thank God I have never been tempted in 10 years!" He is lying. Everyone is tempted. Every day you can be tempted. You never get too old or too spiritual for it.
• We have to be honest about it. We fight it every day. Acknowledge it and you will stand to win. Don’t fake it and wear a mask and pretend like, “How could anyone do something like that?”
• In order words, don’t act tough. Pride itself will be your downfall. We all are tempted, and we need God’s help.
1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man.”
• Circle “common to man” - that means we’re all in the same boat.
• Let support one another, since we all have the same struggles and fight the same battle.
• Even Jesus was tempted. Heb 4:15 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.”
• The difference is He never gave in. That tells us something, it can be overcome!
• It is not a sin to be tempted. It is a sin to give in to temptation.
We cannot stop it from coming, but we can resist and not give in to it.
• Martin Luther said, “We cannot keep the birds from flying over us, but we can keep them from making a nest in our hair.” No one is immune from temptation.
• If the devil is living and alive, the more committed you are to God, chances are the more you will be tempted because you are making him very unhappy.
2. Be RESPONSIBLE – You Have the Power to Choose Right
Don’t blame the situation. Don’t blame people. Don’t blame God. James heard people saying, “God is tempting me.”
• When we blame others, we are not helping ourselves. We can only chance when we take responsibility for our choices.
• Recognise that the power to choose right is in our hands. Don’t repeat Adam and Eve mistakes. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent.
Author Will Rogers said you could summarize American history into two great movements - the passing of the buffalo and the passing of the buck. We are in a society of irresponsibility. Blame society, blame the government, blame the environment, blame heredity, blame your parents, blame your spouse, blame the devil, and even blame God. Some people say, “It must be God’s will or He wouldn’t have let it happen.” That’s called blaming God.
Don’t make your bad choices and then blame them on God.
• God does not tempt. He never contradicts His Word. God is not going to tell you one thing and have the Bible say something different.
• If the Bible says something and you say something different, you’re wrong.
• Blaming is a sign of immaturity. You are not learning, and you are not growing.