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Temptations and God's goodness
Today we are moving on to our second message from James. Last week we looked at verses 1-12 of chapter one and we saw three main things.
This week we are looking at verses James 1:12-18. The title of this message is, “Temptations, God’s goodness and His prized possessions”.
James 1:12-18 – God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. 13 And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession.
Main Points for today
1. God blesses those who endure trials and temptation
Verse 12 – God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
I touched on this verse in my last point last week. The reason is because verse 12 is a linking verse. In verses 1-11 James was talking about trials and in verses 13-18 he is talking about temptation.
You see the Greek word is in this passage is peirasmos (pi-ras-mos). This can mean both trials and also temptation. Some translations use the word trial or trouble, but I like the way the NLT uses both – trial and temptation.
A trial is an opportunity for great joy as James tell us. It allows us to overcome with God’s help and it helps us to mature. What initially seems to be something that would drag us down, can be an opportunity for great growth. Trials are something we endure to build perseverance.
A temptation on the other hand is something that is designed to drag us down. A temptation wants us to turn our back on God and to look to the world. Temptations are something we resist.
God promises in this passage from James, that if we endure both trials and temptations we will be blessed. We become overcomers, we growth in our faith and trust in God, we become more Christ-like in the way we think and live and a great reward is waiting for us in heaven.
So as we said last week, hang in there, stand firm, look to God and all will be well. Blessing is coming.
2. God is not the source of temptation
James 1:13 – And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else.
Temptation is a very powerful thing. It can drag us down and away from God.
Temptations can come from a number of sources. It can come from the Devil. In the Garden of Eden, we see that the devil tempted Eve and Adam and Eve’s response changed everything (Genesis 3). Sin entered the world and as a result they were caste out of the Garden. Contrast this with the temptation of Jesus by the devil in Matthew 4. Three times the devil came at Jesus. Three times Jesus responded with the Word of God. It tells us that the devil left Him and Angels came and took care of Jesus.
Temptations can also come from the world or the people around us. People often try to lure us away from God. I remember as a new Christian my old friends wanted me to return to my old habits. They would ask me out drinking and partying. They told me I was a wowser and no fun anymore. But I knew following God was the way to go. Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:13-14 rang loudly in my ears, “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it”.
Whether it is the Devil, the things of this world or our friends that tempt us, James tell us the ultimate thing that drags us away from God is ourselves. Verses 14-15 of today’s text reminds us of this. It says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death”.
Adam and Eve saw the fruit and it looked good and delicious and Eve wanted the wisdom it would give her (Genesis 3:6). She was drawn away and partook and it lead to spiritual death. Contrast this with Jesus who stood firm. One action lead to death and separation from God for all mankind, the other act of obedience led to the salvation of all those who trust Jesus.
We need to remember that God is not the source of temptation. Verses 16-17 says, “So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow”.
Instead of sending temptation, God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift.” The concept of goodness rules out the possibility that God would send an influence as destructive as temptation. God’s gifts are marked by kindness and helpfulness, not destructiveness. They are “perfect,” which in this context excludes any possibility of tempting his people to commit sin. The point of James’s statement is that nothing but good comes from God.
God is not the sources of temptation, only good things come from Him.
3. We can overcome temptation with God’s help
As Christians, we need to remember that temptation is not a bad thing. Giving in to temptation is where the problem starts. The Bible tells us that we can overcome temptation with God’s help and being aware of how the Devil works.
Be aware of the Devil’s schemes – 2 Corinthians 2:11 – So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
Put on God’s armour – Ephesians 6:11 – Put on all of God’s armour so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
Be full of the Word – Psalms 119:11 – I have hidden Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.
Be determined – Romans 6:12 – Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires.
We have God’s help – 1 Corinthians 10:13 – The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.
Jesus understands and helps us – Hebrews 2:18 – Since He Himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.
Pray – Matthew 6:13 – And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]
God is with us – Hebrews 13:5b – For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”
We are overcomers – 1 John 5:4-5 – For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. 5 And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
We are not alone in facing temptation. God is with us and He helps us to overcome. We do our part by filling ourselves with the Word, putting on the armour of God and praying. He empowers us and gives us all we need to overcome because of what Christ has done and is doing.
4. Remember you are His prized possession
James 1:18 – He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation, became His prized possession.
Have you ever just stopped to look around at God’s creation? A beautiful sunset, or a clear star-filled night, or for me when down to Bruce Rock and the canola is in full bloom. These are sights that can take our breath away.
And yet, as breathtaking and amazing as God’s creation is, there is something He prizes even more highly than His creation — you! You are God’s most prized possession. In fact, in His mind you are His prized possession above all else. He rates you higher than the stars, higher than the moon, higher than the heavens, higher than all His creative handiwork.
Seeing God as the very Artist of Creation, the psalmist was asking, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man, that you care for him? For you made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:3-5).
An artist may have an exhibition that displays the most wonderful or creative pieces they have designed. But if you ask them honestly, there is always one that is his most prized possession – their favourite. As the Artist of Creation, this is the way God feels about you. You are His most prized possession.
Regardless of all the trials, temptations and failures we have in this life. God still loves you more than anything else. You are apple of His eye. Everything was done so you would come. He loves and adores you with a love that stretches out from eternity. You are God’s prized possession.
Today we have looked at the second message in our series from James. We have looked at “Temptations and God’s goodness”. It is my hope and prayer that you have been encouraged today and I hope you remember.
By Dave Quinn
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