From Temptation to Death James 1:12-17
1. "I try so hard not to talk about others, but before I realize it, the words are out of my mouth". "I believe I am a Christian, but I sure wonder when I act theway I do." " I feel like giving up. I just cannot overcome the evil thoughts that I have."
2. One of the biggest and deepest struggles that most Christians have is that of dealing with temptation and the sin that so easily follows. The word of God is clear and simple. His promises are there. All we need to do is submit to God and let Him control our lives.
3. And yet it is not so simple. There seems to be no easy way out. The problem is of course, our sinful nature, that hangs around and won’t let go. And there is Satan who looks for every opportunity he can to lead us astray.
4. It all seems so complicated and hopeless.
5. Tonight I share with you a way to uncomplicate this matter - a formula which will help understand how temptation works in our lives, how to overcome and God’s resources which are available to every believer.
6. And while the struggle will still be there, it helps us to develop a battle plan that we can use to obtain victories.
1. Our focus will be on verse 14 and 15. We will see the four stages of how temptation leads to death.
2. The first stage includes two ingredients.
a. One is our evil desire. This desire can be so inactive or hidden that we do not even know that it is there until it rears its ugly head.
i. Even though we are Christians, we still struggle with sin. We still have evil desires. These can be pride, bitterness, anger, envy. Gal. 5:16-17 talks about the desires of the sinful nature.
ii. What these desires want is contarry to the Spirit, to God and His will for us.
b. The second ingredient is opportunity.
i. These are the things that entice us. As we go through life we meet opportunities to sin.
ii. Can be something tangible like a bottle, a TV show, a bag of chips.
iii.Can be circumstances - someone cuts us off on the 401 Highway.
iv. Can be words that are spoken to us.
c. Something happens when these two ingredients get together. Like a powerful nuclear reaction. In fact does more damage than any nuclear reaction can.
3. When our desire is combined with an opportunity we have the second stage which is temptation.
a. I have a picture of me in Holland - three years old. Our family is sitting around table - parents, two sisters and me. Everyone is loooking to the camera, well, everyone but me. On top of table is a plate of cookies and my eyes are on the cookies. I didn’t care about the picture - just the cookies. Here was my desire for sweet stuff and the opportunity was there before me. I can see on my face that I was being tempted.
b. Satan knows that is how temptation works. When he tempted Christ he provided opportunities to Christ to fulfill human sinful desires.
c. vs. 15 defines temptation as desire that has conceived.
d. Remember - temptation is not sin.
4. Brings us to next satge. When temptation is acted upon then we sin.
a. If I had of reached for cookie when told not to, I would have sinned. Vs. 15 says that temptation gives birth to sin.
b. Sin is doing that which is contrary to the word or will of God.
c. Some might say that once we have sinned we might as well give up. We’ve blown it any way.
5. But as we said last week - sin can grow until it is full grown.
a. That is when we live a life of sin. When we live a life of sin and we stop fighting it and stop asking God to help us and forgive us.
6. And then the final stage - death. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death.
7. You will notice that this process is been compared to the life cycle of a human being. As a man and woman come together to conceive so does desire and temptation. As that unborn, conceived child is born so is sin. And as we grow and become full-grown, so does sin. And as we die so those sins lead to that very death. The cycle is very natural just as sin is natural to fallen man.
8. And so there may seem to be no way out.
9. But as we will now see we can deal with this cycle at most of these stages through that which God has provided for us.