Summary: The third in a series walking through the book of James. This message deals with the issue of temptation, and how to grow in our ability to have victory over it.
(EARLY IN THE SERVICE)
I need all children, ages 4 through 10 who like marshmallows to come up here.
Okay kids. This is the deal. I have a marshmallow for you. And I’m going to ask you to take this back to your seat, and hold on to it for a little while. Now, if you can hold on to this marshmallow without eating it, later on in the service you will get a second marshmallow.
Or, you can eat this one right away. Okay?
(PRIOR TO THE MESSAGE)
Before we dismiss the children for children’s church, I need to know if I have any of the kids age 4 through 10 who have held on to their marshmallow, and would like another one. If so, come up with your first marshmallow, and I’ll give you a second one. Anyone?
What we’ve just seen illustrated an actual experiment that was conducted at Stanford University in the 1970s. They used pre-schoolers in that experiment, and they had to wait 15 minutes to get the second marshmallow.
The experiment at Stanford was designed to investigate the power of temptation. Preschoolers were left alone with instructions that they could eat one marshmallow right away, or wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows.
Some went for the immediate payoff; others held back, distracting themselves from the puffy white treat by singing, trying to sleep or covering their eyes. A decade later, researchers tracked down the children and, according to news reports, found that those who had waited for the second marshmallow were smarter and more self-confident.
And what this research made clear, lines up closely with what the Word of God teaches. There’s a real benefit to the ability to resist temptation... especially in the realm of sin. Delayed gratification serves a real purpose in the Kingdom of God. Waiting for the second marshmallow is a skill worth developing, worth cultivating by the power of the Holy Spirit.
So today we are going to look at the issue of temptation here in big church, but first we are going to dismiss our children, ages 2 through 7 for children’s church. While they are leaving, take out your Bibles, and turn to the book of James.
James 1:12 (read verse 12). Remember last week we talked about these two different perspectives to take in regards to the temptation of money. The same is true for all temptations. There is an earthly perspective, which says that I am blessed when I endure temptation because as James writes in the beginning of chapter one, it leads to my holiness, my ability to live more Christ like. But James once again gives us that eternal perspective (read verse 12b).
Verse 13 (read through verse 15). Now, I want to stop there a second, and see a show of hands. If somewhere in that passage, verses 12 through 15, your Bible that you are looking at, the translation you are using, utilizes the word “test”, raise your hand. Okay, keep your hand up. . .how about the word, “trial”? Keep your hands up. Does anyone’s Bible have the word “tribulations” in that passage? Look at all those hands.
Now, remember back to week one of our study. We looked at the first few verses of James, and saw utilization of the words trials, and testing. But we talked about how James really used the same word throughout that segment, and it was the word for temptation.
Well, that word is back again. Peirasmos. That is the word that is used over, and over again throughout today’s passage and it refers to temptations. That is important. Again, as we go through this study, we don’t want to confuse temptations with the idea of trails, testing, experiences that can come from all kinds of different sources. What James is referring to throughout this passage are temptations. In fact, he uses some form of that word, temptation, six different times in just these few verses.
Why is that important? Why do I keep nit-picking about the use of that word? It is because that root word peiraso, temptation, carries with it this idea of an enticement to sin. That is important if you are going to fully understand the rest of what James is writing about here. He is saying, “Blessed is the man who endures those enticements, those lurings to commit a sin.” He is saying, “Let no one say when he is enticed to sin that he is being enticed by God. For God can not be enticed to sin by evil, nor does He entice anyone to sin.”
And then this is really interesting, despite utilizing this language of an enticement to sin that is often the same language utilized for the acts of Satan in the New Testament, that isn’t where James goes with it. He doesn’t go on to say that “God doesn’t entice you to sin, it is Satan that does it.” No, look at what He says. He says you are enticed to sin when you are drawn away by your own desires.