Summary: Like everything ordained by God, He intends testing and trials for our good. But Satan twists God’s good tests into temptation. His desire is for us to fail God’s good tests by succumbing to the temptation he brings from them.
1. God’s intentions for His tests are good (9-12)
a. God’s pattern for testing (9-11)
b. God’s freedom from testing (12)
2. Transition verse (13)
3. Satan’s intentions for God’s tests are evil (14-15)
a. Satan’s pattern for temptation (14)
b. Satan’s bondage from temptation (15)
4. Conclusion (16)
This morning we’re continuing in the introduction part of James. Remember how the book of James is set up. The first verse is the greeting to his letter. Then in verses 2-18, he gives an overview to the theme of his entire letter. Last week we covered the first part of his overview in verses 2-8. This morning we’re going to get to the second part of it in verses 9-16.
One of the most difficult things we will ever have to understand in life is why bad things happen. Why did 9/11 happen? Why did Hurricane Katrina happen? Why did the Virginia Tech shooting happen? Why is there sickness and pain and disease and heartbreak in the world today? Most of us who have any understanding of Scripture would be quick with an answer. We would be quick to point out that all those things are a result of sin. Not necessarily our personal sin, but original sin. We live in a fallen world because God cursed it as a result of the original sin committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. That’s the answer. As they used to say on the old Dragnet show, that’s the facts ma’am. But how do the facts help when we’re the one who is being tested? When we’re the one going through the trial? How do they help when we’re the one who has lost a spouse? How do they help when we’re the one who’s been diagnosed with an incurable disease? If God is truly all-powerful, doesn’t He have the power to overrule our fallen world? If He is truly in control of everything, why doesn’t He take those things away? Well, let me first say that God is all-powerful. He has the power to do anything except contradict His own nature. And God is truly in control of everything. He doesn’t cause everything, but what He doesn’t cause, He allows. Another way to put it is to say that God ordains everything. One of the most popular verses of the Bible is Romans 8:28. It says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God works all things together for good. Now, how could He do that if He wasn’t truly in control? How could He do that if He didn’t ordain everything? Now, don’t get confused—ordain doesn’t mean cause. Ordain means either cause or allow. And God ordains everything—including trials. Including testing. Like everything ordained by God, He intends testing and trials for our good. But Satan has evil intents for what God intends for good. Satan twists God’s good tests into temptation. His desire is for us to fail God’s good tests by succumbing to the temptation he brings from them. Now remember last week I said that James uses the word “tempted” or “temptation” 6 times in his introduction. The original word doesn’t necessarily carry the negative meaning we attach to the word. In the original, it simply meant “test” or “trial”. Where the different meanings come into play is in how that test is intended. See, God ordains the test. He intends it for our good. But Satan intends that same test for evil—that’s temptation in the way we think of it. This morning, I want us to flee from the devil’s temptations by recognizing that God is in control of testing us. And when we recognize God’s hand in our testing, may we enjoy the freedom that only comes from faithfully passing His tests. In order to do that, we’re going to look at two intentions for the tests we go through. The first intention for the tests we go through is God’s intentions. Look with me in verses 9-12.