TEMPTATION

Text: James 1:12-15… 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. 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.

INTRODUCTION

First of all, there are various translations of the Greek word ‘peirasmos‘. You will note that the NLT [above] uses two words ‘testing’ and ‘temptation’.  The NASB reads, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial.” The AV reads, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.” So who is right and who is wrong? Both are accurate which is why the NLT is better. The Greek word means: [1] an experiment, attempt, trial, proving (Gal. 4:14), the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy. In brief: adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness. [2] it can also mean an enticement to sin, temptation by the devil, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances. It can even be a tempting of God to put for proof of His word, power or existence. Tasker {Tyndale Commentary} believes the NASB is more accurate because of the word ‘endure’: we resist temptation, we endure trials. It is a very good point but there is no doubt that this passage deals with both TRIALS and TEMPTATION.

Dr. Wiersbe says that God test us to bring out the best in us whereas the devil tempts us to bring out the worse. The key is to understand that God may test us as He did Abraham but He will never tempt us to do evil. He cannot be tempted to do evil and He will not tempt us to do evil.

WHAT CAN I SAY ABOUT TEMPTATION THAT HAS NOT ALREADY BEEN SAID? PROBABLY NOTHING BUT IT IS WISE TO REVIEW THE SUBJECT TIME AND AGAIN. PERHAPS WE SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHAT THE TWO HAVE IN COMMON?

I. BOTH TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS HAPPEN TO EVERY BELIEVER.

Since God tried Abraham’s faith, you can be sure, He will try yours. Adrian Rogers once said, “A faith that has not been tested in not worth trusting.” Last Sunday in our LIFE CHANGING BIBLE STUDY class, two dear women shared some things going on in their family. Both felt overwhelmed. One lady has two daughters: the first has severe emotional problems and had to be committed to institutional care and the second has a very rare disease that has baffled all the local doctors. Even Birmingham, had no suggestions for treatment or surgery. They have seen physicians from Vanderbilt and are going to Mayo Clinic next month. Unfortunately, this was not the only thing going on as if she needed more. I cannot share the second trail for fear that it will make things worse for her but all of this is happening at once, it is like an avalanche of problems coming in on her and her family at once.

How can God destroy our idols? How can God make us hate our sin? How can God get us to the point where all we want is His will? There is only one way: our faith must be tried. I have to admit that I have never had a Job experience where everything came unraveled at the same time but as I look back over my life, I can see clearly that I learned from my sorrows, my heartaches, and my failures. My mothers family was torn apart by divorce and then it happened to us. I have three grandchildren who have suffered their entire childhood from the horror of estranged parents who cannot work together on anything because one refusing to cooperate. More and more families are being torn apart by the battle on the inheritance. It happens a lot more than you realize. I know of two families in our small congregation that are hurting right now because someone took unfair advantage and cheating siblings out of things their parents intended for them to have.

II. BOTH TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS TEACHERS

As the old Smoky and Bandit song goes, “I have a long way to go and a short time to get there.” To be 65 years old, I’m not all that mature as a Christian. Sometimes I feel like I am in kindergarten spiritually. As I look back over my brief life [seems so to me], I realize what teachers temptation and trails have been. I am a Pharisee by nature. I grew up under the strict teaching of a devout Christian woman who didn’t even allow us to say darn. I’ve never smoked in my life, I drank very little and that was as a boy mostly because I was put to the dare by those older than myself. In my entire life I have not missed much more than a dozen Sundays if that and when I missed it was due to surgery or sickness. I have traveled on Sunday twice and I hate it. When I graduated Seminary, my halo was pretty tight. I never looked twice at another woman; I was totally devoted to my wife and began to think that marriage was a piece of cake. I had very little sympathy for those who thought otherwise. I said many proud things from the pulpit about my model marriage and my model family. I may not have used those exact words but that was my feeling and I am sure it communicated. Others see our pride sooner than we ourselves. I was setting myself up for a fall and it came suddenly and very unexpected. There was a boot in my tire all along and I didn’t know it but being a foster parent applied the pressure that almost blew a tire.

Temptation is frightening, it is humiliating, it is laden with guilt and it will leave you  feeling miserable. By the grace of God and a good wife, I survived but it left me a different man. It burned out the dross worldliness. I once craved being a land owner and home owner and now I have neither and don’t care. I have no desire to go back—heaven is my hope and home. Someone over heard me counseling with a victim of divorce once and when I walked out she said, “You sure are sympathetic and understanding.” I said, “I haven’t had the same experience but I’ve been close enough to feel the pain and it something I will not forget.” Trials and Temptations are TEACHERS.

So do I have it all together? Is my family a model family? Have I lived a perfect life? No to all, but these flops and failures have humbled me more than once and they have been great instructors. My son, at age 39, is a better preacher than myself. He is better than I was at 39 [20 years in the ministry] and he is better than I am at 65. How did he get to this point? Hard knocks! He tried a dozen things and failed at all of them. He even tried selling vacuum cleaners at one time: he failed miserably because he was too honest. He tried coaching, he tried politics, he tried working in a plant but he ended up feeling miserable even though he was making $75,000 per year and was out of debt. When he told me God was calling him to preach: I said the most carnal thing I’ve ever said: “Son, you are mistaken, God is not calling you to preach. You are making $75,000 dollars a year and you are 31 years old. I’m 57 and I make half of that amount.” I will never forget the look of disappointment on his face. He never cries but he came close: he said, “Daddy, I am happy and I will never be happy until I do God’s will.” God convicted me as he spoke and I apologized. I said, “Son, if God has called you to preach, I am going to do everything I can to help you.”  My son has since been humiliated [which was why I did not want him to be a preacher], hated for no cause other than jealousy and he has been criticized. Yet, I have never heard him get in the flesh in the pulpit and his father has done so more than once. He has loved and served every member no matter how they treated him. My senior deacon told me this past Sunday evening, “The boy has more wisdom than others his age.” How did it get it? Bumps and bruises, hard knocks; enduring trial after trial.

III. BOTH BRING US TO OUR KNEES

James said back in verse 5, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” Both trials and temptations will have you crying out to God like a baby. I would love to tell you that I am a good man and that I have never been tempted to sin but I am going to tell you up front I am no Job or John the Baptist. Job said and I believe he was as honest as the day is long, “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.” I cannot be honest without offending people: Job did not say, “with lust at an old woman.” The reason being men, especially old men lust for young women. An old naked woman is a turn off just as an old naked man would be sickening to a young woman or old. Old men don’t chase women because we can’t move that fast but we lust for the young ones. Any young man that reads this will feel immediately superior to me. You just wait! I am a threat to no one but that doesn’t mean I have a clean mind and never think about sex. Someone did a study and said the average male thinks about sex every seven minutes. This one issue alone keeps me on the carpet. So long story short: I am not a good man and I am tired of pretending. I am a death and hell deserving sinner saved only by the grace of a loving Savior and a merciful God. You cannot find one thing in me that is commendable unless it is something that Christ put there by grace.

One of my young deacons tried to console me, he said, “Preacher, the young women are not helping you, they are revealing far too much and they makes it hard on all of us, not just you old guys.” I know he is right but I am more attracted to the modest than I am the revealing. I am actually embarrassed by women who are not properly covered. Beauty is the problem: it is to be admired but the temptation is to imagine or fantasize. I begged my granddaughters not to be cheer leaders for this reason. I do not see how a young woman can be turned on by knowing that a stadium full of dirty-minded old man are fantasizing with them.

I can I think highly of myself knowing the thought that run through my mind when I see a beautiful woman. The battle with lust is like the battle with pride, it seems there is no end. I don’t know how an alcoholic feels but I wouldn’t think they feel any worse than those of who lust for the flesh. I can I feel proud and pure when I battle lust on a daily basis. It is humiliating; it drives me to my knees where I cry out to my SAVIOR and HIGH PRIEST for His grace and mercy.

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