The Maturing Power of Temptation
INTRODUCTION: Camp Joy has had a dramatic impact on my life every since I first came here in 2016 as a 15-year-old Opp Staff worker. Every summer I have come I have been encouraged and grown in areas that I didn’t even know I needed to grow in. Also, I am thankful for the opportunity to preach this morning. I was not expecting to get an opportunity to preach. I think maybe what happened is that Pastor Moore looked at his schedule for this weekend and said to himself, “I need two guys to preach this weekend but I will be out of town. I can’t ask Evan because he preached last week, I can’t ask brother Shrock because he is not here anymore. I know! I’ll ask two Program guys! It will be a win-win situation. They need the practice and I won’t need to listen to it!” Well........maybe I’m not quite right about the details but certainly may have happened that way. (Pause) However, I am thankful for the opportunity and I believe that God has given me a message for us all this morning so I hope you will all be paying attention and taking notes. I was originally going to preach on Romans 5 this morning but as I was preparing that message, it seemed that God kept whispering “James 1” in my mind. Therefore, please turn to James 1 this morning.
*STAND AND READ THE TEXT THIS MORNING*
(let them all sit)
OPENING ILLUSTRATION: How many of you are excited about this Christmas in July thing later? (wait) I love Christmas in July…actually, it is more accurate to say that I just love Christmas. Now some of you think it is a sin to play, sing, or listen to Christmas music at any time other than Christmas. I generally know who those people are real quick because they let me know of their displeasure with how I am conducting myself every time I play Christmas music. But I do not really care! I fact I am really bad sometimes. I was at work once at MBU, I worked the evening cleaning shift where we finished around midnight and I cleaned the D.C. Now, this one spring night I was playing my music on my phone without earbuds, because I prefer that and it helps me work. It was your normal good Baptist working music like the Wilds, the Herbsters, etc. You get the point. Anyways, I was playing my music while I worked and I passed the security station. Now friends, I saw that there was a young lady in the security station that night who I happen to know ABSOLUTELY DETESTS Christmas music. I’m pretty sure she even hates it when it is Christmas but whatever. I saw that she was in the station as I was doing my rounds that evening and I was immediately tempted to be obnoxious. I thought to myself, is it really nice to play Christmas music when I know she hates it? Should she hate it? I started asking myself about motive you know and before I new it, I had given in to that temptation and I was about to play an obnoxious Christmas song at full volume directly behind her - the song was LET IT SNOW! In that split moment I thought through my life and considered if it was all about to end, then *click. Out blares the song! She wheels around looks at me with the most terrifying glare and proceeds to scold me quite harshly. Now, I knew that I deserved it and, though the prank seems harmless it probably would have been more considerate to have not done it. However, I do want you all to get on track with me to discuss our topic of temptation.
TRANSITION: You see, I was tempted to do wrong and be mean to another person and I gave in. Today I want us to look at James 1 and consider 4 observations about temptation from this passage. First, I want us all to consider - (say it again)
I. The PROMISE of temptation. (James 1:2 & James 1:12a)
DISCUSS: You see, we are all tempted! Raise your hand if you have never been tempted. Now, raise your hand if you were just tempted to lie (I’m just joking). However, the point is that there is not a man or woman on this campground, in this nation, or on this earth that is not tempted. We all are guaranteed to fall because of our sin natures as a result of Adam and Eve’s Fall in the Garden.
ILLUSTRATION: It is like a roller coaster. When you hear the click-click-click-click of that roller coaster as it heads to the top you know without a shadow of a doubt that every person on that roller coaster will fall very very soon.
DISCUSS: It is no different with people. We know without a shadow of a doubt that every living person on this earth will be tempted very very soon.
Application: We all are tempted! We cannot deny our sinful natures and innate selfishness if we are ever to have any hope of spiritual maturity.
REMEMBER THE PROMISE OF TEMPTATION. NOW LET’S LOOK AT THE SECOND OBSERVATION FROM THIS PASSAGE: THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION (repeat)
II. The SOURCE of Temptation. (James 1:13-16)
DISCUSS: Now, friends, I want you to realize that there are two types of men here.
A. Two Types of Men (James 1:13)
1. Those who Blame God
2. Those who admit their weakness before God
DISCUSS: There are those people who when they are tempted choose to blame God. They say “Lord, why me!? Why do I have to always be tempted?” Friends listen to me, STOP BLAMING GOD for something that you do! One of the first steps to spiritual maturity is taking responsibility for who I am and where I stand before Christ. I need to be like the second man and admit my weakness before God with a humble desire to do right.
Application: So, let me ask which type of Christian are you? Do you blame God for your temptations? What about blaming Satan? I don’t know about you, but I normally don’t need Satan to tempt me to do wrong because I do a good enough job of it myself! Satan is not omnipresent. He cannot directly tempt more than one person at a time.
ILLUSTRATION: This point makes me think of the prodigal son. The prodigal son owns his mistake and returns to the father whereas the older brother mopes in the corner and fails to see God’s work. WHICH ARE YOU?
TRANSITION: So we have the Promise of Temptation and the Source of Temptation. Now let’s look at the responses to temptation.
Whether or not we want to, every believer will have a response to any given temptation. The question is, what will yours be. In this passage, we will begin by looking at the POSITIVE response of a mature Christian to temptation.
III. Two RESPONSES to Temptation
A. The response of a mature Christian (James 1:2-4 & James 1:12)
1. Knowledge (James 1:3a)
ILLUSTRATION: My Dad wants all of his children to know how to find the answer to a problem in a given situation in life. However, he doesn’t want us to know all of the answers. He simple wants us to know where to look for the answers. We simply need the basic knowledge to open our minds to the deeper knowledge when it is needed. For instance, if I don’t know how tall the Statue of Liberty is in centimeters, I know that I can Google that fact and come up with the correct answer in a matter of seconds.
2. Joy (James 1:2)
ILLUSTRATION: Come on James! Joy? Really? Do you know how wicked I am? Do you know how much I have failed? Look here friends, I know people today who are in the midst of something very difficult and in a situation where they are constantly tempted to think and act wrongly - where they can lash out at those around the in anger because of what they are going through but they have chosen JOY! They truly believe that THERE IS JOY IN SERVING JESUS. Joy that throbs within their heart every hour of every day as they draw upon God’s power. It is a Joy that never will depart! Why? Because of this (point) They have chosen to obey God’s command to have Joy through the power of Jesus Christ even in the midst of the temptation to despair. What about you?
3. Endurance (patience) (James 1:3b-4)
DISCUSS: Patience in this chapter is more literally translated as the idea of endurance. The concept here is like that of a bodybuilder whose muscles are under constant stress and are in constant pain but who, at the end of it all, is stronger and better off for his trouble. Endurance! Spiritual muscle that kicks in with each successive temptation.
ILLUSTRATION: Weightlifters at MBU. I hate them, but I respect them because they do something that I cannot do and because they have something that I don’t have: ENDURANCE! I respect some of you guys out here because of your physical endurance! Some of you I respect for other reasons but..... Endurance! Do you have endurance.
Now let’s look at the more common negative responses to temptation.
B. The response of the Immature Christian (James 1:13-16)
1. Lust: A Choice to Ignore Biblical Knowledge (James 1:14)
APPLY: Why do we keep telling you to memorize Scripture? For this reason...
2. Sin: The Guilty Heart with no Joy (James 1:15)
APPLY: Have you ever experienced this kind of guilt? I have...
3. A Pattern: The difficult course is set and you have no Spiritual Endurance
APPLY: Have you ever been in over your head before? Are you now… Have you set a pattern of giving in or trying to fight and/or endure in your own strength?
TRANSITION: We have looked at the Promise of Temptation, the Source of Temptation, and the Two Responses to Temptation. Now let’s finish by looking at the GOAL of Temptation.
IV. The GOAL of Temptation (James 1:4b & James 1:12b)
We can restate verse 4 better for our day and age as this, “But the proof of your endurance will be spiritual maturity that is not lacking at all - it is complete and entire." God desires us to be mature Christians and to know how to properly deal with our wicked flesh after we are saved but within His strength. Verse 12 tells us that those who endure to the end will receive a crown of life. Do you want that? We have discussed in our Edify books that crowns are not a wrong motivation. We should want them because we love God. Do you love God? Do you realize how much He loves you?
Application: This is what God wants for you! Do you want it!? Are you acting in your own strength? God desires you to grow in “the knowledge of grace and truth.” God wants to know you personally more than just salvation. His goal for you through your temptation is to show you Himself and His power. Are you letting Him work? Or are you saying, “I got this Lord.” I’m strong enough? Is it working? Probably not.
CONCLUSION: The goal of this message this morning is too remind us of our wicked state and need for the power of God. How are you responding to temptation? Are you dealing with patterns in your life currently set on by constant failure in this realm? Are you tempted to check out early as Mr. Nathan challenged us about earlier? Are you tempted in you thoughts? Are you tempted to be discouraged in you walk with God?
QUESTION: I have a question for you. Do you believe that God can help you with whatever you are dealing with? Do you really? What are you going to do about that belief? Are you spiritual mature?
Consider this morning the Promise of Temptation, the Source of Temptation, the Two Responses to Temptation, and the Goal of Temptation.