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#6 Deceived Concerning Temptation

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                     (A Series on the Book of James)

Westgate Chapel 11/15/04                                  James 1:13-18

Proposition:      Temptation is not from God, its landing place can be our deceived desires, but it should have no place to land in the life of the Spirit-led believer.

i.    introduction

-     I HAVE, in my hand, an Owner’s Workshop Manual for a 1993 Yamaha FJ 1200.

-     THIS is a workshop manual!

*     If you are having ignition trouble, you turn to chapter 4, page 3 to test the coil.

*     If your clutch is slipping, you turn to chapter 2, page 72, to study all the components of the clutch diagrammed on that page.

*     It is a workshop manual and is filled with lists, and descriptions, and ‘how-to’s’ to make an FJ run as it was designed to run.

*     If you are having any kind of problem with a 1993 FJ, all you have to do is study and be disciplined enough to follow the repair manual.

-     UNFORTUNATELY that is the approach most people take to the Bible…which is why so much Bible reading and Bible study is ineffective in producing transformed lives.

-     DOES the Bible contain lists and descriptions and moral remedies for life?

-     YES!

-     BUT the purpose of the Bible in your life is NOT as a workshop manual.

-     WHY? Because you and I are incapable of, and powerless to, follow its remedies.

-     THE Bible is better understood as a mirror….a mirror in which we are given the outline and contours of the Christian life, so that we can compare our lives to what we see in there AND then turn back to our intimate relationship with God and say, I need your help here Lord.

-     THE Bible as a workshop manual leaves you with the burden to fix the problem.

-     THE Bible as a mirror, thrusts you and me back to our relationship with God and the power of the Spirit to change us, conform us into the image of Christ, so the next time we look at the mirror we see that we look more like Jesus.

-     THE use of this mirror (hold up) is more than a sermon gimmick to help you remember the Book of James.

-     IT is about a whole new way of understanding the Bible and its role in your life.

-     SO, turn in your Bibles to James 1:13-18 please (page 1196).

-     THE context of these verses is the role of tests, trials and temptations in the life of the Christian.

-     REMEMBER, last Sunday I told you that all three English words; test, trial and temptation, all come from the same Greek word in the New Testament…and are translated differently according to the context.

-     YOU need to know, also, that whether it is Old or New Testament, tests and trials are recorded as having divine significance ONLY in the lives of God’s covenant people.

-     THEY are reserved for the people He loves (Hebrews 12:6)…because they have eternal importance in our lives.

-     WHEN the people outside of God’s covenant go through stuff…it is just stuff, period. There is no redeeming, eternally significant purpose to their stuff.

-     THAT is reserved solely for the people of the covenant…Christians.

-     SO, let’s look at the mirror to discover the shape and contours of the Spirit-led Christian going through the stuff of life.

ii.   temptation that leads to sin cannot be blamed on god

-     UP to this point in chapter 1, when James has been talking to us about trials and tests….the word has not been translated, temptation, until we get to verse 13.   

-     NOW James uses the word, and it is translated, temptation.

-     WHY temptation?

-     BECAUSE some of the Christians to whom James is writing this epistle have experienced a test, or a trial and as a result of the test, failed and fell into sin.

-     IT is not uncommon.

*     In the Old Testament, in Deuteronomy 8:2, Israel, the covenant people of God, faced all kinds of tests in the wilderness. God said to them,

      “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”

-     THE tests and trials that Israel went through in the wilderness proved that they did not have obedience in their hearts.
-     They worshipped Egyptian gods.
-     They demonstrated no confidence in God, refusing to believe His past acts or His future promises.
-     They made an art of our grumbling and complaining.
-     They blamed and attacked Moses and Aaron whenever they had a chance.
-     What started as trials and tests became temptations for Israel, and they fell into sin.

*     In the New Testament, in Luke 22:31, Satan asked Jesus’ permission to test Peter…and before the chapter is over, Peter denies his relationship with Jesus three times. He failed the test and fell into sin.

-     TEMPTATION often starts as a test or trial but then something happens in the hearts of God people and the test transitions into sin.

-     THIS is what must have happened to some of the Christians to whom this epistle was written…and they evidently reasoned that if the trials and tests they were facing were from God to test them….then He has to be to blame when they failed the test and fell into sin.

-     I MEAN, someone has to be to blame here…and we know it can’t be “me”…right?

-     BLAMING others for our sin is as old as creation.

*     Adam and Eve were tested in the garden, before sin had polluted humanity….and they were tempted and failed. They fell into sin.

*     And in Genesis 3:12, when God confronted Adam with his sin, he said,

      “The woman, whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.

*     And in Genesis 3:13, when God confronted Eve with her sin, she said,

      “The serpent deceived me, and I ate it.

-     SO, James’ readers, just like Adam and Eve, were blaming someone other than themselves, when their tests turned out to be temptations and they fell into sin.

-     IN this case, they blamed God. After all, he had allowed the test to come…so He must be to blame for their failure.

-     LOOK at James 1:13,

      “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

-     OBVIOUSLY this is exactly what the Christians were saying…..”I am being tempted by God.”

-     AND it was a smoke screen to cover their failure and sin.

-     FROM Genesis to Revelation we know that the character of God is holy and that when He allows a test (it doesn’t matter at whose hands it actually comes to you) His sole purpose is for YOU to come through it;

*     preserved

*     proven

*     purified

*     disciplined

*     taught

-     WHEN God allows the test to come into your life, He knows it NEVER needs to be an automatic set-up for failure, because He Himself wrote,

      “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

-     SO, as a Spirit-led believer, if a test turns into temptation for you….and you fail and fall into sin (look in the mirror)….God is NOT to blame.


iii.  temptation can only lead to sin when it has a landing place

-     THEN who is to blame?

-     GO back to the mirror.

-     WHOSE reflection do you see in the mirror?

-     LOOK at verses 14-15,

      “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

-     FIRST, I want you to see that ‘each one is tempted.”

-     IT is going to happen. And the tense of the Greek verb for tempted indicates that it is present-continuous. It is a function of living in a fallen world.

-     THE Bible teaches that sometimes the temptation is the direct work of Satan in your life (Job, King Saul, King Ahab, and Peter as examples).

-     THERE are other times that the temptation comes just from living in a fallen world, surrounded by sin.

-     BUT, these two verses teach us that there are also times when the temptation comes from within us.

-     IN verse 14, James uses language that provides the imagery of temptation as a snare with bait, used by a trapper….where the trap is camouflaged by bait that looks attractive.

*     That is exactly what sin is. It appeals to our senses and appears to offer so much. But underneath it are the teeth of a trap from which you are incapable of freeing yourself.

-     IN verse 15, James uses the language of conception and birth.

*     In this case sin starts as a seed within us, and is allowed to grow in the hidden places of our lives.

*     But, unlike the conception and birth of a baby that has life, sin gives birth only to death.

-     BUT, here is the bottom line from James in verses 14 and 15.

-     TEMPTATION can only lead to sin and death when it finds and is allowed a landing place in the life of the Christian.

-     EPHESIANS 4:27 concerns the specific sin of anger that is not dealt with, and Paul writes,

      “…do not give the devil an opportunity [foothold NIV].”

-     THERE are desires, attitudes, lusts, and actions that, if allowed in the life of the believer, give the devil a foothold.

*     And the bait works because of the condition of your heart.

*     And the seed grows because of the condition of your heart.

-     AND there is not another soul to blame, and no devil to blame…but you!

-     SO how, in the life of the Christian, is there place given for a test to become a temptation and sin?

-     TO the degree that your life or mine are conformed to the world.

*     Its values for money, power and sex.

*     Its choices for darkness over light.

*     Its systems of pride, power or control.

*     Its idolatries, like entertainment, sports, and self-gratification.

*     Its constant greed for more.

*     Its pace of life….to name just a few.

-     WHAT is the result?

-     A CHURCH in America that is in name only, is not passionately in love with God, and is devoid of the power of God to transform lives.

-     WHOSE fault is it that we cave in to temptation?

-     OURS.

-     LOOK in the mirror of James 1:14-15.

iv. temptation should have no landing place in the life of the believer

-     OK, one last point on the subject.

-     ARE we doomed to live Christian lives defeated by sin….that leads to death?

-     NO!

-     THERE is a remedy!

-     LOOK at James 1:16-18.

      “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.”

-     DO not be deceived!

-     WHAT did we learn about deception from the sermon series in Judges?

-     WE learned that deception is hiding the truth, so someone can have his/her way with you.

*     An illusionist uses it to hide the coin from you.

*     The army uses it to hide the fuel trucks behind camouflage.

*     Ladies use it to hide their wrinkles or skin tone behind make-up.

-     SO, in itself, deception is not always intrinsically evil....which is what makes it so dangerous for Christians because most of us would recoil from something obviously evil.

-     BUT, when the deception is subtle (which is it by definition) and undetected….it can destroy our lives.

-     THERE are two deceptions going on in these verses:

1.   The deception of blaming God for the temptation that resulted in sin in your life.

*     And the truth that is hidden is that your trust in God is shaken at the very moment you need Him to forgive and deliver you.

2.   The deception of a focus on the temptation itself, and all its elements, as well as your failure.

*     And the truth that is being hidden, is the truth James brings out in verses 17-18.

-     God is only good.
-     God only gives good, perfect, useful, excellent, upright, honorable things to those who love Him.
-     God is only holy.
-     He is Light, in fact He dwells in unapproachable light.
-     And in Him there is no shadow or variableness.
-     You always know where He stands.
-     God has a perfect will concerning things He has resolutely set Himself to do.
-     And one of the things He has resolutely set Himself to do is through His Word to establish you as the pinnacle of all He has set His hands to do.
-     James calls you the ‘first fruits of all creation.’

-     GOD has in mind, and has provided for you to live life securely in Christ Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit who lives in you and has baptized you….to live victoriously over temptation and sin.

-     HE can do it in you by the power of the Word of Truth….which is the very opposite of deception and the hiding of the Truth.

-     AND when you live in this Truth of God’s Word and in the power of the Spirit….temptation has no landing place in you!

v.  conclusion

-     THAT is the shape and contour of the Spirit-led life James outlines for you today from these verses in His Word, which is a mirror.

-     HOW does your life look to you as you peer into that mirror?

-     DON’T view these verses as something to go do, and thereby live in victory over temptation.

-     LOOK at yourself in comparison to the shape and contours of the Spirit-led life in these verses…and then turn back to Jesus and ask Him to fill you fresh with His Spirit and lead you in His love so that you too look like that!


                    JESUS, DRAW ME CLOSE


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