Summary: Christian Survivor Series - Living Godly in a Godless World - Helping us understand why we do what we do, even when we don¡¦t want to do it -- and the spiritual strength resources we have to help overcome in our times of temptation.
The Devil SUGGESTED It;
He Didn¡¦t (and Can¡¦t) MAKE You Do It!
(Christian Survivor Series; Living Godly in a Godless World)
James 1.12-18 January 21, 2001
I¡¦m not thrilled with Fox TV Network. They promised to clean up their act after the prime time fiasco, Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire? They didn¡¦t! That tasteless denigration of marriage has now been followed by Temptation Island. Contestants try to seduce each other in front of a national TV audience. In a recent commentary, Chuck Colson said that
Temptation Island bears a superficial resemblance to other so-called ¡¥reality television¡¦ programs, like the Survivor series¡K. But what distinguishes Temptation Island from shows like Survivor is its premise. Not content to merely outlast each other, these contestants will actually try to seduce each other¡K. Temptation Island trivializes courtship¡KIt makes light of one of the most important promises we can make. The promise to be faithful and honor our commitments is turned into fodder for soap-opera dramatics: ¡¥Will she or won¡¦t she be true?¡¦
It is difficult enough for any of us to deal with our own temptations. Now Fox has made it possible for us to watch the real-life temptations of others like so many voyeurs, peeping in a bedroom window. They have taken the preamble to marriage (courtship) and turned it into a lurid contest, which will be fit discussion for Oprah or Jerry Springer. Heaven help us if our young people start taking their dating tips from Fox!
As I studied this text, and concluded that the Bible long-ago addressed Temptation Island, I also thought about our family of believers that meets in this place. I want to say this without the slightest hint of patronizing, or braggadocio; as a group we are honest and knowledgeable; you exhibit a healthy spiritual appetite, and are a bunch of sinners¡Kjust like me. We all need help with our temptations.
James gives us help with understanding why we do what we do, even when we don¡¦t want to do it ¡V and the spiritual strength resources we have to help overcome in our times of temptation.
Consider four aspects of the believer¡¦s struggle with temptation:
1. The Believer¡¦s Warfare
The Christian life itself is warfare. The ¡§battle songs¡¨ in our hymnal echo the Biblical posture that we are at odds with a world system that is hostile to Christ. People that were thrilled with Jesus would not have crucified him! When it comes to temptation the word ¡§warfare¡¨ is almost too mild. Let¡¦s dig a little deeper.
THE DEFLECTION OF SIN
13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: James 1.13 KJVƒt
Blaming our sinfulness on God is as old as the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). Adam and Eve fell, and when confronted by God, Adam said, It was Eve, that woman YOU gave me, Lord! Adam was deflecting the responsibility for his sin onto God¡¦s shoulders. Now, that¡¦s ultimately the way we get saved ¡V God¡¦s son, Jesus died on the cross so He could take away the sin that condemns each of us. But we have to confess it first! God never forgave an excuse, and that¡¦s what Adam was offering. Confession and accepting responsibility for our sin is a hard thing for people in the 21st century to accept.
John MacArthur, in his book The Vanishing Conscience, addresses this blame switching, and refers to it as the "victimization of America." No one is responsible for what he does anymore. "What, you killed three people? You¡¦re not responsible because you were abused as a child." "What, you murdered your husband? You¡¦re not responsible, you were under the influence of PMS." "What, you burned down your own house? You¡¦re not responsible, you are simply mimicking what you have seen on TV." "What, you shot your mom and dad? You¡¦re not responsible, you have MPD." The blame is always shifted. In fact, MacArthur states that, "Victimism has gained so much influence that as far as society is concerned, there is practically no such thing as sin anymore. Anyone can escape the responsibility for his or her wrongdoings simply by claiming the status of a victim."
Deflection for responsibility ¡V that is seen in every walk of life. To include the imagery from Harry Truman, there doesn¡¦t seem to be a place anymore where the buck stops being passed.
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN TEMPTATION AND SIN 14But every man is tempted¡K James 1.14a KJV ƒt
It is important to say that being tempted is not sin. Temptation is the seed of sin, and Satan plants it. We cannot control the thoughts that enter our minds. However, as Martin Luther pointed out, though we cannot prevent the birds from circling over us, we can stop them from nesting in our hair! Satan may plant the seed as a temptation. We don¡¦t have to grow it to a bumper crop!