Summary: Sermon 1/2 in the Introduction to James Series
How to defeat Temptation
Scripture: James 1:12-18
I am reminded of a little boy and his mom. She had just baked some fresh cookies and placed them on the counter to cool. The little boy made the comment to his mother about how good the cookies smelled. The mother told him he was not to eat any of the cookies. A few minutes passed and the mother walked back into the kitchen and caught the little boy eating one of the cookies. She asked for an explanation to which the little boy replied. " I climbed up on the counter to smell the cookies and my teeth got caught on one. "
As funny as a story like this may seem, temptation is a serious affliction for us as Christians and it needs serious attention. James gives serious attention as to the source of temptation and what we are to do about temptation. We know several things about temptation:
1) It is universal – all people are tempted to sin.
2) It is unique – people have different kinds of temptation.
3) It is personal – no one likes to talk about temptation.
4) It is beatable – but takes much work.
F. B. Meyer, once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.
The goal today is not for you to pick someone out and say Oh yes, well I know brother so and so is in sin or I am SURE the preacher is talking about Sister so and so’s problems…. Today James is speaking to YOU. Individually to your temptation since it affects all. You need to focus in this brief time we have together on learning about YOUR temptations.
I. Our Reward for enduring temptation (v. 12)
The rewards for enduring temptation are clearly pointed out here: the gift of the crown of life. It is important to fully understand what kind of rewards this passage is talking about.
NOT – eternal life. No faith nor love can earn us that.
WHAT IT IS = God has blessings in store for those that are faithful in keeping His commandments and that love and serve Him. The gift of blessing is what God promises to us who endure temptation.
How do we conquer temptation?
On the TV show "Hee Haw," Doc Campbell is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replies, "Well then, stay out of them places!"
He may have something there. We cannot regularly put ourselves in the face of temptation and not be affected. When faced with the problem of temptation, we need to take the good doctor’s advice and "stay out of them places."
Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).
Discipleship Journal, November / December, 1992.
II Corinthians 2:11 "In order that Satan might not outwit us, we are not unaware of his schemes."
HOW do we avoid temptation – we must spend time with God. IN ORDER TO RESIST – we must pray regularly, consistently. We must avoid tempting situations, we must be involved in regular Bible study, and often times if we have a particular area that is difficult we need accountability to other Christians. We are not eligible for the reward if we do not complete the requirements.
II. The source of temptation (v. 13-15)
Very simply and plainly James says that GOD is NOT the author of temptation. James probably has in mind the Jewish idea of Yetzer ha ra’, "evil impulse." Some Jews reasoned that since God created everything, he must have created the evil impulse. And since it is the evil impulse that tempts man to sin, ultimately God, who created it, is responsible for evil.
James tells us that this idea is FALSE. God is NOT the author of temptation and neither can He be tempted.
v.14 – Rather than blaming God for his sin, as man tends to like to do, we are to take full responsibility for our sinful lifestyle.
IT is OUR lust that draws us away from God.
IT is OUR wickedness that allows us to be enticed by Satan, and
IT is OUR choice to fall or resist the temptation.