Summary: Like death and taxes, trials and temptations are a part of life. In this sermon learn that temptations are inevitable, giving into them is inescusable, their pattern is predictable, but the good news is they are conquerable!
A. In the sermon today, we are returning to our sermon series on James called “A Faith That Works.”
1. In our last sermon we learned about turning our trials into triumphs.
2. We talked about the fact that life is difficult, but that in spite of our difficulties our toughest times can be marked by joy.
3. We learned that perseverance produces maturity, and that God promises the wisdom we need.
4. We learned that faith is critical for developing perseverance and receiving wisdom.
5. And finally, we learned that there are promised blessings for those who remain faithful through the tests and trials that come.
6. James 1:12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor’s crown, the life God promised to those who love him.”
B. One interesting thing about James’ discussion here in chapter one is that he used a Greek word that has two different meanings, and he used the word in both ways in this chapter.
1. The word translated “trials” in the first 12 verses, is the same word that is translated “temptations” in verses 13-18.
2. The word can refer to external stresses that press us, or it can refer to internal attractions that tempt us.
3. It is the context that determines the proper translation and application.
4. Although there is not always a connection between trials and temptations, many times the trials on the outside can become temptations on the inside.
5. In the midst of adversity we may be tempted to think or act in a sinful manner.
6. We may find ourselves complaining against God, we may find ourselves questioning his love, or resisting his will.
7. At this point, Satan may provide us with an opportunity to escape the difficulty in a sinful manner, and we might be tempted to take the bait.
8. Regardless, whether it is trials or temptations, we must be prepared to stand up under it or against it.
9. Let’s spend the rest of our time discussing four facts about temptation that we must understand if we are going to be able to handle temptation.
I. We must realize that Temptation is INEVITABLE.
A. When James writes about temptation he’s dealing with real stuff.
1. These are not wistful thoughts from a preacher’s study, but these are the painful, difficult realities of life.
2. Temptation strikes us all.
3. It affects us in the workplace and in the home.
4. It affects parents as well as children, teachers as well as students, leaders as well as followers.
B. James leaves no question that temptation’s assault will come.
1. Notice that James says, “When tempted…” not “If tempted.”
2. Just like death and taxes, trials and temptations are inevitable in this life.
3. We will never be without temptation. Never.
4. We are certainly in for a big surprise if we think that when we become a Christian all our old struggles and temptations will be automatically and instantly be left behind.
5. The Christian life is a life of conflict. We are in a spiritual battle.
6. There are opposing forces constantly trying to draw us away from God.
7. Even though people around us may not appear to be doing so, everyone is wrestling with temptation just like you and me. Temptation plays no favorites.
C. Here’s an important thing to keep in mind - Temptation itself is not a sin.
1. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus himself was “tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”
2. Temptation is simply the invitation to sin. We sin when we decide to accept the invitation.
3. Jesus was invited to sin, just as we are, but Jesus always refused the invitation.
4. So, first of all we need to realize that Temptation is INEVITABLE.
II. We must realize that giving in to Temptation is INEXCUSABLE.
A. In verses 13-14, James says that “When tempted no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
1. What James is doing here is calling us to assume personal responsibility for handling temptation.
2. We must not blame anyone else, nor shift our responsibility to anyone else.
3. Temptation does not come from God, and it is not God’s fault when we give into it.
4. Proverbs 19:3 warns: “A man’s own folly ruins his life, yet his heart rages against the Lord.”
5. God does send us tests and trials for our own good, but God is never involved in tempting anyone to do evil.
B. It seems that we humans have a tendency to want to blame someone else when we fall into temptation.