Summary: This sermon, based upon James 1:13-18 clearly sets forth how we can win over temptation.
James 1:13-18 "Hook, Line and Sinker"
By Pastor Mark Hiehle
There is almost nothing like it in the world. To see the eyes and expression on a little boy’s face the very first time he experiences it. Little boys dream about it. Old men still tell about it with great excitement and enthusiasm. Nothing else compares to the thrill of fighting to bring in your very first giant, rainbow trout. The experienced and wise fisherman knows that to catch the really big ones, it takes more than a worm and a hook. It takes cunning, forethought and imagination. The great anglers know that "temptation" is the name of the game.
The process begins by a serious study of their prey. What does he (the fish) like, his habits and his environment? The angler then tries to fabricate a bait that will grab attention, arouse desire and lure the fish into biting the illusion. The bait is made of hair or feathers. It is constructed in such a way that when the fish sees it, he will think, "That’s the most unusual fly I’ve ever seen. It looks big and fat and juicy. I bet it tastes great! If I don’t grab it now, I’ll never know just how good and satisfying it is. Oh, I can’t resist..." And then "POW!" Through the enticement of a lie, the fish finds not satisfaction, but death. The Devil is a great and skillful angler. His bait has never changed. And - he’s fishing for you!
In James 1:13, note that the verse does not begin with "if" but "when" tempted. Temptation is not a possibility but a certainty. We will be tempted. But when we are tempted, we must understand the author and the purpose of the temptation. James tells us that God is never the author but Satan. The Devil knows us and his desire is not to just disrupt and frustrate our lives but to destroy us. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that Satan is a roaming lion looking for someone to devour. How does he do it? Like the angler, he studies his prey and makes you think that the thoughts that run through your head are your own and not the cunning bait of your enemy.
James sets the stage for the destructive drama that unfolds in the life of the unsuspecting person. First, we are tempted by our own evil desires. Each person here this morning already knows your greatest weakness. Just the mention of the question, "What is the sin that can entangle you the most?" brings the picture immediately to mind. Not only do we know what the sin is, but we are not alone. Yes, we deceive ourselves in thinking that we are protected in our thoughts and shielded from being discovered. The truth is that there are at least two others that know that sin that can so easily entangle and trap us - God and Satan. God can give us victory over that sin if we allow Him. However, Satan will use that area as a temptation to destroy us. Verse 14 actually allows us to see just how Satan baits us if we are not careful. First, the tempting thought is shot into our mind with hopes that it will stick. If we entertain the thought, then our imagination takes the thought and magnifies it in our mind and our body then responds. This is a very dangerous time because our imagination can easily be deceived in not being able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Let me prove it to you.
Everyone put your hand out. Imagine with me that you have a lemon in your hand. Feel how cold it is since you just took it out of the refrigerator. Feel the two knobs on the ends? Ok, now take a knife and cut the lemon in half. Careful! Don’t cut yourself. Oh, look at the juice run down over the sides. Now, put one half down and just hold the other half of the lemon. Now, look at the inside of the cut lemon. Lean down and smell the lemon. Get a good full sense of the lemon fresh scent of the just cut lemon. Ok, now squeeze the lemon. See the juice ooze up and cover the surface of the cut lemon? Now - lick the lemon. That’s right! Lick the lemon. Ok, who feels like you have more saliva than you did a minute a go? How can that be? It was only pretend! The reason is because your body reacts to that which your mind thinks about. That is why it is so important to set your mind on what Philippians 4:8 tells us,"whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lively, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praise worthy - think about such things." If not, then the principle of sowing and reaping takes over: sow a thought - reap an action, sow an action - reap a habit, sow a habit - reap a character, sow a character (bad) - reap destruction. But if you sow a character (good) then you will reap a harvest of blessing and righteousness. Therefore, James tells us that when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death.