Summary: "For Dummies" books are a raging success! Why? Full of practical wisdom and simple "How To's" Wouldn't a "Christianity for Dummies," a book full of practical wisdom & simple How Tos on how to live out our faith, be great? James & this series is JUST THAT
Christianity For Dummies: How To Understand & Defeat Temptation
A. Well, we've just started our series "Christianity for Dummies" based on the Book of James. We talked about the fact that this series title is not meant to insult but is rather a term of endearment that we all can relate to and identify with. The reason for this is that the Book of James, like the "For Dummies" series, is a book full of practical wisdom and simple "How To"s. As such, it wonderfully instructs us on how to live out our faith, how to be a doer and not just a hearer of the Word. We're in the process of breaking this gem down, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. Last Sunday AM we examined "How to Respond to Trials" and so this AM we come to Chapter 2 - "How to Understand & Defeat Temptation."
B. To get us thinking about this, let me ask you, What are some creative "excuses" you have heard people give for doing something that is clearly wrong? The devil made me do it reminds me of a pastor who was struggling to make ends meet on a first-call salary. He was livid when he confronted his wife with the receipt for a $250 dress she had bought. "How could you do this?!""I was outside the store looking at the dress in the window, and then I found myself trying it on," she explained. "It was like Satan was whispering in my ear, 'You look fabulous in that dress. Buy it!'""Well," the pastor replied, "You know how I deal with that kind of temptation. I say, 'Get behind me, Satan!'""I did," replied his wife,"but then he said, 'It looks fabulous from back here, too!"
C. That pretty much sums up our temptation when it comes to temptations. To deflect responsibility and to play "The Blame Game." We obviously need some instruction on "How to Understand & Defeat Temptation." One of the characteristics of the "For Dummies" books is the Part of Tens at the end of each book. So in the spirit of the "For Dummies" books, I've broken down James' instruction on "How to Understand & Defeat Temptation" into 10 P's.
II. Scripture Reading & Prayer
A. Read James 1:13-18.
B. Pray - Father, help us to understand your Word and apply it to our lives that we might know how to understand and defeat temptation.
III. How To Understand & Defeat Temptation: 10 P's
- We first have to understand the particulars or details of this single Greek root that James uses, "peira." It can mean either test or tempt; context alone determines the sense:
+ sense = James 1:2,12 Greek "peirasmos" (noun) Trials OUTWARD,produce spiritual perfection, strengthen faith. As we discussed last time, God tests His children - Abraham & Isaac (Gen. 22:1-2), Israel's 40 years in the wilderness (Deut. 8:2), Philip at feeding of 5000 (John 6).
- sense = James 1:13,14 Greek "peirazo" (verb) Temptation INWARD, seek to induce sin and destroy faith. As we'll see next, God NEVER tempts! Why? He hates sin (Psalm 5:4), and it's against His holy nature (Isaiah 6:3).
- So, despite the fact that James uses the same Greek root (peira-) for both the outer trial and the inner temptation, it is CRUCIAL to know the particulars and distinguish them. One we should rejoice over and praise God for allowing, the other we should despise and NEVER lay at God's feet!
- "Let no one say WHEN" Just as we said with trials, temptations are a matter of when, NOT if! You say, "Not me, I'm a Christian." Discuss people saying "I'm strong never me" or "Why me am I weak?". Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin. Christian doesn't make us immune to temptation and in fact, the temptations will increase not decrease! Did you know that? Many people think that if you're a Christian, and especially if you're a good Christian, you're not going to have any temptations. WRONG! Jesus had them, so will you and I. And if we don't understand that fact, we will NEVER understand temptation. Finally, just as with trials, temptations are many colored...like Skittles...rainbow of colors. Your's are not mine & vice versa.
- Read James 1:13. We see here three what I'm calling permanents, three eternal truths about temptation: 1) "Let no one say...I am being tempted by God" This is an imperative with a negative particle literally "stop saying." As I've already pointed out, we should NEVER lay the blame for our temptations at God's feet. Why? 2) "God cannot be tempted with evil" Because He hates sin and because of His holy nature, God would never entice humans to sin or seek to harm their faith! Thus... 3) "he himself tempts no one" This goes back to our discussion on particulars - God does not tempt so as to destroy, but He does test so as to strengthen.