Summary: When we are tempted and fall it is easy to offer excuses or to blame others for our poor actions. James is showing us that there is another way which comes by taking responsibility for our actions and trusting in Jesus for spiritual strength.

James 1:12-18

You can say “no” to temptation

Scripture Readings:-

Job 1:6-22

James 1:12-18

Congregation of the Lord,

As Christians we are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Sometimes that is not so easy. But, tonight, we are going to focus on an issue that makes us walk exactly in the footsteps of Jesus. We walk in the footsteps of Jesus when we are tempted. Does that sound like heresy?

• This is what Hebrew 4:15 says … “we have (a High Priest … meaning Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are”. Finally an area of life where we excel in being just like Jesus. Life and temptation go hand in hand.

• Jesus recognised this truth when He taught us the Lord’s Prayer. “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one”. It’s a daily requirement that we have – the need to acknowledge God’s help to handle temptation.

• Even our own text in James 1:12-18 talks about ongoing temptation. James does not say “if temptation comes”, he says “when temptation comes”.

Temptation is going to be part of our life. And when it comes along it puts us in the good company – indeed the excellent company - of Jesus.

And that is important to recognise. Because as we seek to be people who say “no” to temptation it is pretty clear that we will not just be able to “get rid of temptation” – we can’t remove the times of temptation. Rather we need to look at the Scriptures to see how we can be people who deal with temptation when it comes. And that is where our text sets the agenda. James is equipping us to be able to say “no” to temptation.

The first piece of that equipment comes by recognising our responsibility in this whole matter.

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me”. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone”.

Obviously James says these words because there were people who were saying, “God is tempting me”. Basically they were accusing God of setting them up for failure. You still hear the same accusations today.

People say things like:

“I’m struggling with this issue because my parents struggled with this issue. They didn’t raise me in the right way or give me all that I needed. So I can’t help it – of course when I am tempted in this area I’m going fall”.

What they are really saying is:

“Lord You gave me the wrong parents. You had and could have put me in a different family. If You had put me in a different family I wouldn’t be struggling so much”.

People say things like:

“I’ve been born with a melancholy character. Everyone knows that a melancholy character is going to create a person who is prone to depression and bouts of self doubt. If I was more phlegmatic this wouldn’t be happening. I can’t help it”.

What they are really saying is:

“Lord, You’ve made a mistake, I’ve been given the wrong personality. You could have made me to be so much different; more outgoing. You can’t expect me to stand firm when You made me like this”.

That’s how it goes, doesn’t it. "Lord You gave me too much to bear, that is why I stumbled. You put me into this situation because You didn’t answer my prayer as I wanted You to. Now look, I’m drowning in guilt and shame and I have fallen”. It’s an accusation that God Himself is setting us up for failure. And when we think like this of course we will fall into temptation. If God is at fault, how can we say “no” to temptation?

That is why James says no one should say God is tempting me. It’s a false accusation which gives us an excuse to fall into temptation. The biblical fact is that God is not in the business of making you do something that is evil – the biblical fact is quite the opposite. James 1:18 tell us:-

“He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created”.

Our heavenly Father is totally committed to the business of drawing people to Himself out of darkness into His wonderful light. He chose us for eternal success. He chose us so that the truth could reign in us. He chose us as a first fruit. The first fruit being that which is dedicated to God at the beginning of a new harvest. That’s God’s heart. And He revealed that heart to us in Jesus Christ. Jesus who came to save us from sin – all the effects of sin.

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