Summary: The second struggle common to all humanity is temptation.
James: Religion That Works
“The Common Struggle, Part Two”
February 19, 2006
Introduction: We started last week looking at the common struggle of trials in our lives. We talked about how the people that James is writing to were Christians who had left their homes under the threat of persecution. James wrote to them to stand strong in the face of trials and to allow the trials to bring them to new levels of maturity in Christ.
Today we want to look at the flip side of the trials of life and that is temptation. Trials are typically external to our lives. They come from the outside. Temptations, as scripture will show us, come from within and have very powerful consequences.
What is it that tempts you in life? Bring out the Box of Temptation
What is inside the box that so often lures us away from what we know to be right to what we desire with our flesh? (Chocolate, coffee, money, power, fame, physical pleasure)
James is going to write to us about how to deal with the temptations of life, and what the consequences are of not dealing with them properly.
I. The Source of Temptation
Obviously things outside of ourselves are tempting to us. But the power they have over our lives is dictated by the room we give them within ourselves.
“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.” James 1:13-14 (NIV)
It is very easy to blame God or someone else for our struggles. James makes it clear that we are the issue.
The first key to dealing with temptation is responsibility.
Temptation is fueled by our own evil desire. It is the desire of the humanness of our lives that drags us into feeding our temptation.
In the context in which James is writing, it is easy for him to be talking to the ones being persecuted about not seeking revenge or pain from those persecuting them. He is talking specifically about the inner condition of the heart in those he is writing to. The principle is the same in all forms of temptation.
Look at how scripture describes temptations:
“For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16 (NIV)
Cravings of sinful man, lust of the eyes and boasting of what he has and does all comes from within the heart of man.
The very essence of temptation is satisfying self.
That does not originate with God. God’s nature is not that way. In fact, God is described as being holy and perfect and selfless in his love. There is no evil in God. Therefore, he is not responsible for the evil brought into the world.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” Psalm 29:2 (NIV)
“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5 (NIV)
God is the source of good, not evil.
One of the biggest dangers in our lives is not accepting the responsibility for our actions. We try to pass it off to our parents because of their influence. We blame our spouse because they didn’t meet our particular need or scratch our particular itch. The biggest lie of all is we blame God. If he hadn’t made me this way or if he had created her different I wouldn’t be in this mess. God is not the blame for evil in our lives. It is time we took responsibility for our own actions.
Application: Who are you blaming for the evil in your life? Who are you passing the buck to in order not to take responsibility for your sin?
II. The Process of Temptation
Temptation, like trials has a process in our lives. If you remember form last week we talked about the progression of trials in our lives.
Trail Testing Perseverance Maturity
In a similar format, temptation has a pattern of growth and development.
“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:15 (NIV)
The pattern of temptation is as follows:
Temptation Sin Death
This has been the pattern God warned about form the beginning of creation:
“But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." Genesis 2:17 (NIV)
God gave Adam and Eve everything else in the garden to eat, but warned them that the consequence for eating of this tree was death.