Temptation is common to all men
The Bible tell us that temptation is common to all men. We should never thing it strange when tempted. We should never think that our struggle to resist temptation is unique to us alone. Jesus urged his disciples when He walked the face of the earth to develop a life of watching and praying so that they wouldn’t fall into temptation. In other places in the Bible, it says, that sin is constantly knocking at our door, and Satan is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We must do everything to resist temptation and sin by drawing near to God.
How does one overcome temptation?
James give us a strategy in his book chapter 1. Let’s take a look at what he teaches.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:12-17
James gives us 6 knockout punches in this epic battle to overcome temptation:
Anticipate it – “when tempted” James 1:13
It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when you will face temptation. It is wise to expect. You are more likely to overcome, if you are ready to face it.
- Matthew 4: Like Jesus, we must always meditate on upon the word and use the word to fight temptation
- Matthew 26:41 encourages us to watch and to pray so that we do not fall into temptation
- Matthew 18:7-9 also tells us to chop off or get rid of everything that causes us to sin
- Hebrews 2:18 reminds us that by grace, Jesus will help us when tempted, so to look to Him
Complicate it not – “no one should say” James 1:13, 16
First of all, temptation in and of itself is not sin. It only becomes sin when it’s acted upon. It is also not from God. God cannot be tempted with evil and He himself does not tempt anyone. Temptations come from two sources:
- James 1:14 says, each person is tempted when lured away and enticed by his own desires. But,
- 1 Corinthians 7:5 also says, that temptations come from Satan, the devil
Activate it not “when the desire is conceived” James 1:15
As long as temptation remains a temptation, it is not sin. You want to resist it and get rid of it. You do not want to activate it. When temptation is acted upon, it comes alive. The word conceive means “to cause to begin.” It is speaking about becoming pregnant. What you did when you gave into that temptation is you allow yourself to become pregnant with sin.
- desire conceived give birth to sin
- when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
Whatever you do with temptation, don’t activate it. Somebody once you can let the birds fly over your head, but you should never allow it to build a nest in your hair.
Replace it – “every good and perfect gift comes from above” James 1:16
At the heart of a temptation is a lie. A lie about the character and the goodness of God. The lie is to deceive you. We’ve seen this before. We’ve seen it play out in the Genesis account in Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve.
- “Did God really say?”
- “You will surely not die”
- “Your eyes will be open”
- “You will be like God”
- “You will know good and evil”
What Adam and Eve did not do, was to replace that lie with truth. Fast forward to the second Adam. Three time Jesus uses the phrase -“it is written.” What he did was replace the lie or half truth with the truth, the word, the goodness of God. It is important to replace the lie with the truth. Look beyond the deception and invoke the truth. It also means actively:
- laying aside every weight and sin which clings so closely – Hebrews 12:1
- putting off the old self of deceitful desires and putting on a new self – Ephesians 4:22
- renewing our mind with the word of God – Romans 12:2
aftereffects of it – “when fully grown brings forth death” James 1:15
At the heart of every temptation, no matter how good it looks, sounds, feels, is a seed of death, shame, and bondage.
- 1 Timothy 6::9 tells that falling into sin through temptation plunges people into ruin and destruction
- Hebrews 11:25 talks about the fleeting pleasures of sin. It looks good at first, but in the end it stings and bites
The late Steve Hill used to say “Sin will always take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer that you wanted to stay, and cost you more that you intended to pay.” So, it is important to see what you are getting into, before you take that step into it.
Dominate it – “blessed is the man who remains steadfast” James 1:12
Tap into His divine power
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… 2 Peter 1:3
Tap into His divine promises
By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises… 2 Peter 1:4
Get on the offensive and supplement your faith with
Virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, love. 2 Pet. 1:5 – 7
If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from falling, being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ… 2 Peter 1:8, 9
Three Words – offensive, offensive, offensive!