Summary: We know from our study of God’s Word that the promised result of persevering through trials is the reception of blessings from God. But what is the outcome when we blow it, when we fail?
How To Recognize The Source Of Temptation
Preached by Pastor Tony Miano
Pico Canyon Community Church
December 10, 2000
Introduction: Let’s pray.
Turn in your Bibles, if you will, to James 1. We’re going to be studying verses 13-18 this morning.
Our study of James to this point has led us, at least I hope it has led us, to a clearer understanding of the reason for the trials we face and the promised outcome if we persevere through our trials. But what happens when we don’t endure the trials we encounter? What happens on those occasions when we fall short of God’s glory? After all, all of us sin and fall short of the glory of God. I know I do.
We know from our study of God’s Word that the promised result of persevering through trials is the reception of blessings from God. But what is the outcome when we blow it, when we fail? What is the outcome when we fail to live by the faith we have in Christ? James is about to tell us. Let’s read 13-18.
This morning we’re going to talk about how we can recognize the opportunity for failure before the situation gets to the point that we’re left disappointed, looking back at our mistakes. That opportunity for failure begins with temptation. So, let’s look closely at what James has to say in this passage. In the process, we’re going to learn how to recognize the source of temptation. I think whom or what the source is may surprise you.
In the first twelve verses of his letter, James’ tone or attitude was intended to encourage and instruct his readers. Beginning in verse thirteen, we see the tone change. The tone becomes that of a stern warning. James is not being harsh, here, but he is becoming more serious.
Maybe you’ve noticed that the commands James has given to his readers up to this point are affirmative commands—meaning he was instructing his readers to do something. In our passage for this morning, we see James give negative commands—meaning he was instructing his readers not to do something.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; (1:13a)
James begins this passage with one of these negative commands—“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God.’”
Interestingly, James uses the verb form of the Greek word, peirazo, translated as trial or testing in verses 2-4. But in our verses for today, specifically verses 13 and 14, the word means, “to tempt.” The context helps us to see how the meaning of the word changes from verse to verse.
We’ve established in our study of the first twelve verses of James’ letter that God allows trials to occur in our lives in order to test our faith. God allows and intends this testing for our good.
But the context of verses 13-18 clearly shows the same Greek word to be something negative, something to be avoided, and something not to be attributed to God. Our understanding of the word can be helped by identifying who James is referring to in verse thirteen. He is not talking about the person who is blessed because they successfully endure the trials of life.
We need to go back to verses five and six to see whom James is talking about. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” (1:5-6).
In our passage for this morning, James is referring to the doubter who lacks wisdom. “This person’s incomprehension of the wisdom of God leads him to view trials as a provocation to sin, [a temptation]; therefore he sees trials as evil. What he has failed to understand is the truth about himself” (Richardson, p. 78).
I’ve had ample opportunity over the years to deal with people from all walks of life that didn’t understand the truth about themselves. There is an interesting mentality in the world of street gangs—one that I know is not uncommon to the rest of the world. But in the world of criminal street gangs, this mentality carries with it an almost perverse exaggeration. It’s the idea of blame shifting.
It is extremely rare for a gang member to take the blame, to take the responsibility for something they have done. Oh, after a little intense coaxing, if you will, they will admit to what they’ve done, but they won’t take the blame for it. They most certainly will take pride in what they’ve done, but no matter how egregious the act, it is always someone else’s fault.