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Tempted: God's Call to Resist Temptation

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Temptation Does Not Discriminate

Notice what James says:
James 1:13 ESV
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
When he is tempted. Temptation is not something that some are susceptible to and others aren’t. Temptation is common.
1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
This word has its roots in the military. It comes from ancient warfare. Before a enemy was attacked, they were peirazo - tested, so the word means to “to test whether a city can be taken"(1) So temptation is a testing of whether our hearts can be taken by our enemy.

Trials Vs. Temptation: What’s the Difference?

Last week we discussed Trials and how God wishes to see us through trials in life. Who knew that this week would be filled with so many facing devastating trials? I hope you see the hand of God’s providence in that, that God was preparing you to face the trial of this week. In his love he was helping you cope with the pain that would come.
What a great and loving God we serve!
But we see this shift, and so the question is: What’s the difference between a trial and a temptation
The fundamental difference between trials and temptations can be seen in James' use of language in the text. Trails are hardships in life that can sink our faith. Death, pain, suffering, all of these things can lead us to doubt God's goodness or question his love. But God's purpose in these is to build steadfastness and faith in us, through prayer and trusting in him and their end, according to v. 12 is that we receive the crown of life.
The fundamental difference between trials and temptations can be seen in James' use of language in the text. Trails are hardships in life that can sink our faith. Death, pain, suffering, all of these things can lead us to doubt God's goodness or question his love. But God's purpose in these is to build steadfastness and faith in us, through prayer and trusting in him and their end, according to v. 12 is that we receive the crown of life.
By contrast, temptations are at their hearts enticements to evil. They are temptations to do something God has commanded we not do or to not do something God has commanded us to do. This is a provocation to sin.
James makes clear: God allows trials to come into our lives to produce godliness in us, but temptations are not his work and should not be attributed to him. Mind you, God allows our temptation. God is not surprised by our temptation, and Satan is kept on a very short leash, but God is not tempting us or leading Satan to tempt us with evil.
I do want to recognize that we have an enemy who tempts us to sin:
1 Peter 5:8 ESV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
John 8:44 ESV
You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV
And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
We have an enemy. And his goal is to entice us.
2 Corinthians 11:44
I love this word, entice.
It’s a term that was used in fishing.
δελεάζω deleazō - To lure
FISHING POLE WITH SOMETHING ENTICING ON IT
But Satan’s not our only problem. Our problem is not only the devil on our shoulder, but it’s also the sinner in our hearts. James makes the argument that our temptation begins much closer.
and while I do agree that sometimes the Devil and his demons can tempt us to sin, James makes the argument that our temptation begins much closer.
And while I do agree that sometimes the Devil and his demons can tempt us to sin, James makes the argument that our temptation begins much closer.

The Enemy Within

ἐξέλκω exelkō - Dragged away
It's our "craving", our desire that begins the pull away from God. It was Eve's craving to "be like God" that caused her to eat the fruit, and it was Adam's craving for the food that was "good to eat" that caused him to eat also. It was David's craving for Bathsheba that led him to defile her and Saul's craving for power and praise that caused his fall. It was Judas' craving for money and position that caused him to deny Christ, and Annanias and Saphirah's craving for the same that led to their deaths. And it your craving and my craving that leads us away from God. Craving for respect, craving for recognition, craving for honor, craving for sexual fulfilment, craving for riches, craving for comfort, craving for peace, craving for...you fill in the blank.
Our biggest problem is not the devil on our shoulder, but the sinner in our hearts.
It's our "craving", our desire that begins the pull away from God. It was Eve's craving to "be like God" that caused her to eat the fruit, and it was Adam's craving for the food that was "good to eat" that caused him to eat also. It was David's craving for Bathsheba that led him to defile her and Saul's craving for power and praise that caused his fall. It was Judas' craving for money and position that caused him to deny Christ, and Annanias and Saphirah's craving for the same that led to their deaths. And it your craving and my craving that leads us away from God. Craving for respect, craving for recognition, craving for honor, craving for sexual fulfilment, craving for riches, craving for comfort, craving for peace, craving for...you fill in the blank.
Jude 4–16 ESV
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.
In the Ten Commandments notes:
Deuteronomy 5:21 ESV
“ ‘And you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife. And you shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’
But later Jesus says:
Matthew 5:27–28 ESV
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Why, because sin begins in the heart.
Matthew 15:17–20 ESV
Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
So what James wants us to see is that temptation is not just a cosmic battle against the forces of this present darkness…it is.
Ephesians 6:12 ESV
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
But are battle begins in the heart. We have to do heart work before we can do spiritual warfare.
Romans 8:13 ESV
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
We must put to death what’s fleshly inside of us. The KJV tell us to mortify the flesh. The problem is our culture doesn’t mortify the flesh, it celebrates it.
We must put to death our sin, why? Because if we don’t put our sin to death, sin will kill us according to James.
I love what John Owen, the great puritan Pastor said in his book, On the Mortification of Sin:
Do you mortify (your sin)? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.

Let no man think to kill sin with few, easy, or gentle strokes. He who hath once smitten a serpent, if he follow not on his blow until it be slain, may repent that ever he began the quarrel. And so he who undertakes to deal with sin, and pursues it not constantly to the death.
be killing sin or it will be killing you. - John Owen
So how do we do this? Well, Ligonier’s ministry has four helpful things to think about when overcoming sin.
1. Learn to admit sin for what it really is. Call a spade a spade — call it “sexual immorality,” not “I’m being tempted a little”; call it “impurity,” not “I’m struggling with my thought life”; call it “evil desire, which is idolatry,” not “I think I need to order my priorities a bit better.” This pattern runs right through this whole section. How powerfully this unmasks self-deceit — and helps us to unmask sin lurking in the hidden corners of our hearts!  
As Christians we are given New Life. But that new life requires that we focus on who we are in Christ. Often when one is saved, the say, Well, thanks God, and then they go through life never really thinking about the implications of the new life.
2. See sin for what your sin really is in God’s presence. “On account of these the wrath of God is coming” (3:6). The masters of the spiritual life spoke of dragging our lusts (kicking and screaming, though they be) to the cross, to a wrath-bearing Christ. My sin leads to — not lasting pleasure — but holy divine displeasure. See the true nature of your sin in the light of its punishment. Too easily do we think that sin is less serious in Christians than it is in non-believers: “It’s forgiven, isn’t it?” Not if we continue in it ()! Take a heaven’s-eye view of sin and feel the shame of that in which you once walked (; see also ).
3. Recognize the inconsistency of your sin. You put off the “old man,” and have put on the “new man” (3:9–10). You are no longer the “old man.” The identity you had “in Adam” is gone. The old man was “crucified with him [Christ] in order that the body of sin [probably “life in the body dominated by sin”] might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” (). New men live new lives. Anything less than this is a contradiction of who I am “in Christ.”
We are called to Set our Minds on things above…This is an active reordering and refocusing of our minds.

2. Fight Our Sin

4. Put sin to death (). It is as “simple” as that. Refuse it, starve it, and reject it. You cannot “mortify” sin without the pain of the kill. There is no other way!
Sin is must be dealt with head on. It’s an active battle. Often we as Christians are passive, praying that God would free us, but overcoming sin is an active war against our sin, but not just one area of sin. In he deals with sin in private life (v. 5), everyday public life (v. 8), and church life (vv. 9–11; “one another,” “here,” that is, in the church fellowship). Sin in all of its forms must be met head on. We can’t hope we get over sin, we must root out these sins and overcome them in all facets of life.
1) Heinrich Seesemann, “Πεῖρα, Πειράω, Πειράζω, Πειρασμός, Ἀπείραστος, Ἐκπειράζω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 23.
h, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 23.
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