Summary: Christians often fail to guard their hearts in times of greatest temptation because they are not expecting to be tempted during such occasions.
Title: God’s Greater Grace
By Bong Baylon
Text: James 4:11-5:6
Big Idea: When you know certain situations where your flesh can be most tempted, you can guard your heart by relying on God’s greater grace.
Tagline: Guard your heart with God’s greater grace.
Interest: Illus. Trying to lose weight is a very difficult battle. But I’ve learned the secret to victory: Guard yourself during birthdays and anniversaries. But there is this one situation where I failed to guard myself…
Need: Christians fall into sin so easily because they are not aware of certain situations where they are more prone to sin than any other situation.
Text: After explaining that the way to overcome sinful desires is by relying on God’s grace with humility, James now addresses three situations where his readers, and us, are most likely to be tempted to sin. He challenges them to apply what they’ve learned in such tempting situations by relying on God’s greater grace (v.6).
Revelation/Relevance: When you know certain situations where your flesh can be most tempted, you can guard your heart by relying on God’s greater grace.
Overview: When are you most tempted? There are three common situations that you do not expect would cause you to fall into sin so easily…
1. When you feel you’re right (4:11-12)
a. It’s so easy to speak against a person when you feel you’re right. Illus. A young boy was accused of murdering his younger sister. He had the motive. Police was able to manipulate him to confess and everyone believed he was the murderer. But later another suspect was captured. DNA testing of blood samples from his shirt showed he was the one who really killed the girl.
b. Just because you feel you’re right doesn’t mean you are really right (vv.11-12). Illus. Those who rammed two jets into the Twin Towers in 9-11, thereby killing thousands, really felt that what they were doing was God’s will.
c. We must make sure that what we say is what God would really say (i.e. based on His word) and not just on what we think He would say (i.e. based on our thoughts and imaginations only).
d. Guard your heart with God’s greater grace when you feel you’re right.
2. When you feel excited about something (4:13-17)
a. It’s not wrong to feel excited about something. Illus. I don’t like cats very much because they’re not excited about anything. But Dude, my Golden Retriever, is different. He gets excited all the time!
b. But often when we are excited we lose perspective (vv.13-14). Illus. I have a friend who got excited with MLM. He invested so much. Eventually he lost millions. He almost lost his faith, too.
c. This passage is not against planning per se, but against boastful planning (v.15-16).
d. Our plans must be based on God’s will, not our will (v.17).
e. Guard your heart with God’s greater grace when you feel excited about something.
3. When you feel happy and contented with yourself (5:1-6)
a. God wants all our needs met according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19).
b. But God’s purpose is for us to be rich in good deeds, not just rich in the eyes of this world (1 Tim 6:18). Illus. People applaud Will Smith in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness.” It’s a classic “rags-to-riches” story of Chris Gardner. It features the triumph of the human spirit. But it does not end with his triumph. He actually became a well-known philanthropist.
c. Often when we are happy and contented we forget how we got there in the first place. Illus. There’s the story of David Lee Edwards who won 27 million dollars in a lottery. His story is the classic “riches-to-rags” story. He ended up as a homeless drug addict after wasting everything.
d. We are tempted to love money and use people instead of the other way around (5:1-6).
e. Guard your heart with God’s greater grace when you feel happy and contented with yourself.
Emotional climax: Illus. The weakest part of Iron Man is his heart.
Need for closure: When you know certain situations where your flesh can be most tempted, you can guard your heart by relying on God’s greater grace. Guard your heart with God’s greater grace when you feel you’re right, when you feel excited about something, and when you feel happy and contented with yourself. Guard your heart with God’s greater grace.
Decision to make: Are you feeling any of these things? Ask God to guard your heart right now with His greater grace.