Summary: This message is part of an 8 sermon series on the book of James. Taken from James 1:13-18, this message focuses on the problem of temptation and sin.
Dead or Alive
CHCC: October 10, 2010
One day God was looking down at Earth and saw all of the evil that was going on. He decided to send an angel down to Earth to check it out. So he called one of His best angels and sent the angel to Earth for a time. When he returned he told God, “Yes it is bad on Earth, 95% give into temptation and only 5% resist temptation.”
God decided, Maybe I had better send down another angel to get a second opinion. God called another angel and sent him to Earth for a time.
When that angel returned he went to God and told him that the Earth was definitely in decline: 95% bad and only 5% good.
God decided to take action. He decided to E-mail the 5% that were good. He wanted to encourage the good ones to keep resisting temptation.
Do you know what that E-mail said????
So … you didn't get one either, did you?
Well, God didn’t really send an e-mail, but He gave us a message about temptation in James chapter 1. Verse 13 says, When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. James 1:13
1. The Source of Sin
Notice, James didn’t say, “IF you are tempted…” He said “WHEN you are tempted…” It’s a sure thing. Everyone WILL be tempted. And the first thing most of us do after we give in to temptation is look around to see who we can blame.
That’s why James makes it clear who is NOT to blame for our temptations.
Chuck Swindoll says the literal translation of this verse would be, “Don’t even remotely suggest that God has anything to do with your temptation.”
Temptation always starts with your own desires. If temptation is like a magnet, that magnetic pull toward certain sins is located in you. Think about the temptations you’ve had lately. Chances are none of you were strongly tempted to rob a bank this week. Going home from work every day, I drive by Chase Bank … but I’ve never once been tempted to pull in and rob the bank. Going TO work every day, I drive by Crispy Cream Donuts … now THERE is a daily temptation. You see temptation ALWAYS involves our own personal desires.
James describes temptation as a process, and he gives the SEQUENCE of events in verses 14-15: Each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and enticed by them. Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15
2. The Sequence of Sin
Step 1 – LUST The word translated drawn away is the same word a hunter would use for “baiting a trap.” Enticed is a fisherman term for “baiting a hook.” That’s a pretty good picture of how temptation works, isn’t it?
In verse 16, James warns, Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. In other words, learn to look past the bait to the hook!
When a trout sees those bright feathers and that squiggly wormy-looking thing, the only thing he thinks about is, “hey, that’s GOT to taste good” Of course once he takes the bait, he’s hooked. That’s the next step …
Step 2 - SIN - This is the inevitable result when we decide to dwell on our lusts … instead of turning away, we focus on our desire … and if we do that, we eventually ACT on our thoughts. Sin is very seldom a one-time thing. We soon discover it’s far easier to never sin once, than having done so, to never sin again the second time. Sin is addictive. And the Sin Sequence always ends the same way:
Step 3 – DEATH- This 3-step-process should be easy to remember: LSD Lust Sin Death. There are times when one act of sin leads to literal physical death. But more often it brings all the things associated with spiritual death. The death of joy and peace, the death of relationships, the death of hope.
It reminds me of an old saying: Sow a thought, reap a deed … Sow a deed, reap a habit … Sow a habit, reap a destiny.
In verse 17, it seems like James changes the subject. But actually, James hasn’t changed the subject at all. These verses lay out the Solution to Sin.
3. The Solution to Sin
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17-18
When you’re tempted, it helps to remind yourself that only God can really fulfill your deepest desires. Warren Wiersby puts it this way, “The goodness of God is a barrier to protect us from temptation.” (Be Mature p.50)