Summary: Jesus is the answer to temptation.
Turn please to the book of James. You will remember that we’re preaching through the book of James—a very practical book—we call it religion in shoe leather, that is the book of James, very practical religion. Hmm, or religion in street clothes.
And, today we want to talk about “The Anatomy of a Sin,” or “Look for the Hook.” And, I want to read, please, James chapter 1, beginning in verse 13. That’s where we left off with our preaching last. Verse 13: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:”— with evil, that’s implied, but certainly there—“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:13–15).
Now, you will remember that the book of James uses the word temptation in two senses, with two meanings. Some temptations are tests. They’re trials, they’re not an inducement to do evil, but simply the tests, and the trials, and the hardships of life that come to us. These are sent by God in order to make a stand, but there are other temptations that are inducements to do evil—solicitation to sin—which is sent by Satan to make us stumble, not to make us stand. They’re not sent to strengthen us, but to weaken us and to destroy us. And, it is that kind of a temptation that we’re dealing with this morning. The temptation to sin, the inducement to evil.
And, you’d better listen because the devil has already made plans to sabotage your life. The devil has already dug his pit that he wants you to fall in today. And, you’re going to be bombarded the rest of your life with unbelievable temptations in every area, and it is so important that you learn not to succumb, not to be taken by the devil. Three things I want us to notice this morning, point number one: a definite possibility. Point number two: a divine impossibility. And, point number three: a direct responsibility.
I. A Definite Possibility
All right, are you ready? First of all, let’s look at the definite possibility. Verse 13: “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God…” (James 1:13)—just underscore the phrase “when he is tempted.” It doesn’t say if he is tempted. It says when he is tempted.
Dear friend, you’re going to be tempted. You say, “Not me, I’m a Christian.” Jesus was tempted in all points like as you are. And, you’re not immune to temptation because you’re a Christian. To the contrary, the temptations will increase, they will not diminish. Did you know that? Many people don’t know that. Many people think that if you are a Christian, and especially if you’re a good Christian, you’re not going to have any temptations. Jesus had temptations and so will you.
Sometimes people say, “Oh, I wish I didn’t have to work in an ol’ office. I wish I could be a preacher. I just wish that I could be a minister of the gospel so I wouldn’t know any temptations. Don’t you know that the devil aims his biggest guns at God’s preachers? Don’t you know that? Of course he does. So would you if you were the devil.
All of us suffer temptation. The minute you become a friend of God you become an enemy of Satan. And, when God opens the windows of Heaven to bless us, the devil opens the doors of Hell to blast us. That’s something that we need to learn. I tell these new Christians, when they come down here and give their heart to Jesus Christ, “If you’ve never met the devil, it’s because you and the devil have been going in the same direction. You turn around; you’ll meet him head on, if you’re a Christian.” Can you say amen to that? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
There was one man who was—he worked for this mean cruel boss. His mean cruel boss wasn’t a Christian. This man was. He’d recently been found, but he’d recently been found by the Lord, or had found Christ, and he was somewhat unlettered, but he loved the Lord fervently. But, he was always telling his boss that the devil was dogging his footsteps and that he was having difficulty with temptation. One day they were talking about it while they were out duck hunting and the boss said to him, “Sam,” he said, “you’re a strange preacher. You claim to be a Christian and yet you’re always talking about wrestling with temptation, the devil always being after you.” He said, “I’m not even a Christian; I make no pretense of being a Christian. The devil never bothers me, how do you explain that?” He said, “Well, Boss, suppose we shoot two ducks. One of them falls dead and the other is still flopping in the water. Which one are we going to go after first?” “Well,” he said, “the one that’s still flopping.” He said, “That’s right boss. The devil knows you are a dead duck.” And that’s true. The devil doesn’t have to worry about some of you. He’s already—you’re dead—and at least if the devil’s after you it’s a sign of life. It’s a sign of life.