Summary: Temptation is a given in the life of all Christians, how we handle that temptation is a completely different story. James gives us three simple steps tht we can take to successful push back the temptations that come our way.
How to Handle Temptation
Do you struggle with temptation? I heard of someone who said, “I don’t struggle with temptation, I just give in to it!” Surely that is not the answer!
But the fact is, there isn’t a day that goes by that we are not tempted in some way. Temptation comes in many forms; we are tempted not to tell the truth, to take something that does not belong to us, to take advantage of someone, to gossip, to over eat, to hold a grudge, or to withhold from the Lord that which rightfully belongs to him.
The magazine “Discipleship Journal” asked its readers to rank the areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them. The results came back in this order:
5. (tie) Anger and Sexual lust
The respondents also noted that temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God and when they were physically tired.
The truth is that temptation is everywhere. How do you handle the temptations in your life? Can anything be done to help you win that struggle? Is it even possible to successfully resist temptation?
The Bible tells us that yes we can. In our text today, James gives us insight into just how to better handle the temptations that come our way. Here are the three steps to follow.
I. Don’t be Surprised (v. 13)
a. The first step we must take to handle temptation is to take a step of preparation.
i. If we are going to successfully handle temptation, we can’t be surprised when it shows up on our door step.
ii. Notice what James said, “When tempted”, he did say, “If tempted.”
iii. We should never be surprised when temptation shows itself.
b. We need to understand some things about temptation.
i. First, temptation is universal – everyone is tempted
1. The only person that is not tempted is the person that is dead.
ii. Second, temptation is inevitable – it will come
1. You are either in temptation right now, heading out of it, or getting ready to be hit by it.
iii. Third, temptation is personal – everyone has their own temptations
1. All of us a vulnerable in different ways.
2. What tempts you might not tempt me and vice versa
3. Satan tailor makes temptations just for you, to fit your weaknesses.
c. Temptation will come to us all, so we need to be prepared for it when it comes.
II. Don’t be Confused (vv. 13-15)
a. After we have properly prepared ourselves for temptation, we must understand where temptation comes from.
i. Some would argue that God is the source of temptation.
ii. Shifting the blame actually began in the Garden of Eden.
iii. Adam excused himself for his disobedience to God by saying, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate.” And the woman said, “the serpent deceived me and I ate.” (Gen. 3:12-13)
b. James quickly refutes the whole idea of God being the sender of temptation.
i. “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, not does he tempted anyone.”
ii. Unless we understand that real source of our temptation, we will respond to it incorrectly.
iii. Satan is the one to blame when temptation comes our way.
1. But let’s not give Satan too much credit.
2. For us to be tempted by Satan there must be something there for Satan’s temptation to be effective.
iv. Each person is responsible for their own temptation, and James is quick to point out that temptation is not a event, but a process.
“But each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is fully formed, brings forth death.” (vv. 14-15)
1. First, temptation beings with desire
a. James tells us that it is “each one is tempted by his own evil desire”.
b. This is the beginning of the process that can only be described as a downward spiral toward sin.
c. The desire to sin is in us all.
d. If it weren’t, sin would not be attractive to us.
2. Secondly, it leads to deception.
a. James tells us that because of our desire we are “dragged away and enticed”
b. Enticed, means to literally be lured by bait, like in fishing.
c. The purpose of the bait is deception.
d. If you bait a hook in fishing to lure fish, you are doing two things.
i. First, you are luring fish
1. If you want to pull fish out of there hiding places you need to use a bait that will peak their interest, one that they can’t resist.