Summary: A message on temptation and how to overcome it
"Hook, Line and Sinker"
OPEN: Every good fisherman worth his salt knows that you can't catch fish consistently by using only one kind of bait. Seasoned fishermen know that the difference between going home with fish and going home with a fish story lies in the bait. So if you're planning on having fish for dinner, you start out by planning which kind of bait you are going to need to get the little fishy out of the brook and onto the hook. - certain fish can be caught only with certain bait... a dry fly for trout, worms for bass, stink bait for catfish. What you are trying to do is to con the fish -- you're trying to swindle them into biting your bait. A good fisherman is a good con-man. He tricks fish into thinking they are going to get a tasty dinner, when in reality they are going to become dinner. Within a tempting moment there's a bite - a fight - and then a skinned fish fillet! So when you hear someone bragging about being a good fisherman -- you better watch them carefully -- because what they are really saying is they know how pull off a good con. A good fisherman can get the fish to fall for the bait hook line and sinker time after time.
So we are going to be talking about temptation and how to overcome it today. We all know too well what it's like to be lured by temptation. Something offers a promise, but in the end it doesn't pay. Temptation is that attractive lure hiding the deadly hook. And like the drama we just watched, we end up getting stuck in sin not knowing how to escape. But take heart, you don't have to take a bite.
It would be wonderful if we could live life without facing temptations, but the simple fact is that we cannot. Just as sure as hardships are an unfortunate reality of life that we all must face at one time or another, so too is temptation.
Context: James has been teaching us how to profit from our problems. Up to this point he has shown us that every problem we face -- every trial we encounter has a purpose. The Lord is trying to show us something about ourselves. Every difficult thing that comes into my life, either strengthens me because I obey God and stay confident in His care and trusting His power, and so I grow. Or I am tempted to doubt God, deny His Word, disobey, do what is expedient and thus I have fallen to the solicitation to do evil. Now it's very interesting that in Greek, the word for trials, peirasmos -- is the exact same word for temptation. The same word that means an enticement to evil is also used to speak of a trial. The difference is how you respond to it. If you respond to a trial with obedience, then you find it a means of spiritual growth. If you respond to a trial with disobedience it has turned into a temptation and you have fallen prey to it. Every trial has the potential to become a temptation, depending on our response. So, James makes this shift from trials, which lead to growth and blessing, to temptations which lead to sin and death. Every circumstance of life that we face then provides us with a decision. In fact, it requires a decision. Will I persevere? Will I move ahead in faith in God by obedience to His Word? Or will I listen to the voice that suggests the easy way out is disobedience and fall into sin?