Summary: James in these verses teaches us how to overcome temptation (real faith For The Real World - part two)
"The Devil Didn’t Make You Do It"
A mother told her son not to go swimming. However, when he came into the house his mother noticed that his hair and bathing suit were wet. "Johnnie," his mother scolded, "I told you not to go swimming." "I couldn’t help it mom," he defended himself. "The water looked so good." "But why did you take your bathing suit with you?"
"In case I was tempted."
A 4 year old was caught by her mom standing in a chair eating cookies, after she had been told not to, here is how she explained the situation, "Mom it’s not my fault, I just climbed up to smell them, and my tooth got caught."
Mark Antony was know as the "silver-throated orator of Rome." He was a brilliant statesman
magnificent in battle, courageous, and strong. And he was handsome. As far as personal qualities are concerned, he could have become a world ruler. But he had a very vulnerable and fatal flaw of moral weakness, so much so that on one occasion his personal tutor shouted to his face, "Oh, Marcus, oh colossal child! Able to conquer the world, but unable to resist temptation."
Last week we talked about overcoming hardships (about standing up and standing firm under the pressure of and onslaught from life’s circumstances - we talked about turning all trials into triumphs).
This week we are also going to talk about overcoming struggles, but not the struggles from without - rather the struggles from within -- today we want to talk about winning over temptation.
Here is a definition of temptation; "the act of enticement to do wrong by the promise of pleasure or gain..." Now isn’t that just like the devil, getting us to do wrong by promising us something good.
Now as we talk about this today don’t limit (as we are prone to do)don’t limit temptation to just sensual sins, because temptation, just like trials, comes in a variety of packages; we are also tempted to: lie, cheat, gossip, over eat, to hold grudge, to steal, to not give the Lord the first fruits of our treasure, time & talents.
Our goal is this study is to come up with some practical ways that will help us overcome temptation. But before we deal with how to handle it, it will be helpful for us to discuss what temptation is.
Understand we are in a war, a very real battle not against flesh & blood, but against spiritual forces of this dark world, and like any good general, it is both necessary and beneficial to understand our enemy and his tactics, therefore we must understand temptation if we are ever to defeat satan and be victorious for God.
In our text James reveals to us 4 facts about temptation;
FOUR FACTS ABOUT TEMPTATION
1) Temptation Is Inevitable
It’s going to happen, notice what James says as he begins verse 13; "When tempted no one should say..." James didn’t say if, he said when....
Now it would be wonderful if we could live life without facing temptations. But the simple fact is we can not. Just as hardships are an unfortunate reality of life, so is temptation. AND if you think you’ve found some place, some unique Christian victory secret, some perfect location, some uninhabited island, some ideal church, some area where there is no chance for temptation, may advise to you is -- "don’t go there." Because when you do, you’re going to spoil it!
You see, when you go you will take with you your mind and your thoughts - which are the vehicles of temptation. We will never be in a place on earth where there is no temptation.
As long as we live in this flesh and on this world we will face temptation.
The monk who lives in a monastery in the Swiss alps, the businessman in Atlanta, the house wife in Poduck Mass, the student in Gwinnette Co., the professor in bible college, the preacher in the pulpit -- all face temptations...
Question What did we talk about last week? Trials, hardships..etc,
Understand that it is not an accident that James right after talking about trials talks about temptation.
Writer & speaker Joni Erickson Tada was paralyzed from the neck down in a diving accident. In her book Secret Strength, Joni wrote about facing temptation.
"I was in my late 20’s, single, and with every prospect of remaining so. Sometimes lust or a bit of fantasizing would seem so inviting and so easy to justify. After all, hadn’t I already given up more than most Christians just by being disabled? Didn’t my wheelchair entitle me to a little slack now and then?"
Joni went on the ask her readers;
"When God allows you to suffer, do you have tendency to use your trials as an excuse for sinning? Or do you feel that since you’ve given God a little extra lately by taking abuse, that He owes you a "day off?"