Text: James 1:12-15, NLT
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,[c] 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.
Before we get into tonight’s message; let us do a brief review:
- So far James has taught us that Temptation never comes from God. God never tempts us to do evil and He cannot be tempted to do evil.
- God does try our faith but it is not to trip us up, it is to build us up.
- Both temptations and trials are good teachers.
- Divine Wisdom is available at request if we ask humbly and in faith.
In our last sermon [not posted at this time] we talked about the general aspects of temptation but tonight we are going to get into specifics. Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe says there are four stages to sin and they are all found in this text: there is DESIRE, DECEPTION, DISOBEDIENCE AND DEATH. It is a good outline and we will use it.
FIRST OF ALL: THERE IS DESIRE
- The Greek word translated ‘desire’ in NLT [v.14] is epithymia which means desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust. The AV and NASB translate the word lust. Lust is a longing, craving, a deep desire but we never think of lust as a good thing and the word here is talking about our natural desires.
- There is nothing wrong with our natural desires, God created them in us. We desire food and we would starve without it. We desire water, shelter, clothing and of course sex. The desire in and of itself is not wrong, not evil.
- All desires have to be controlled or they become destructive. I have this watch because of a weight problem. I have a huge fat tumor under my right lung. I have already lost my diaphragm in the right lung which is a sack of air. I will be on a diet the rest of my life or I will lost one lung and possible more. Over eating can cause severe health issues. We have to learn to control our food intake. It is not easy. Gluttony is a sin and it is destructive.
- In the same manner, we have to control our desire for sex. If we yield to all our sexual desires we will become like the animals. We will stoop to the level of self-gratification and self-preservation and it will be impossible for us to maintain any enduring relationships. That was a great bible study lesson last Sunday: any time we behave selfishly toward another human being, we damage the relationship.
THE SECOND STAGE IS DECEPTION
- Our key word is in verse 14 ‘deleazō’ which literally means to bait, to allure, to deceive.
- The fisherman actually catches the fish by deceiving it: he uses a lure that has a hidden hook. The fish thinks it something to eat and he strikes with vengeance but when he closes its mouth, it feels the pain of the hook. Then the more it resist the deeper the hook is set.
- The fish is hungry and he sees something that appears to be a delicious meal and he goes for the bait.
- A good fisherman studies the fish: he knows their habits and his mission is to find the fish’s weakness and get it to take the bait. The devil works the same way: he does not use the same bait for everyone. For some he uses drugs, Alcohol, others he uses greed [money] and for many, he uses sex. Again: Temptation is relative to desire, ability and opportunity. Some have the desire but not the ability. Some have the desire and never get the opportunity.
- The devil is clever. He is a con-artist, a prolific liar. He can sell a fork when it’s raining soup. He can make the bait so attractive, so enticing, so alluring that the only thing that can keep you from striking is the fear of God and the ability to flee. The sad thing is: I can see people being deceived and I tell them what the devil is up to and they take the bait and run with it even though I have told them what lies ahead.
THIRD THERE IS THE DISOBEDIENCE
- 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.
- Not every temptation leads to a sinful action. Jesus told us that lust with intent is equal to adultery but there is no social fallout with lust alone. However, when lust takes the bait and becomes convinced of the devil’s lie, the result is a sinful action.
- Generally speaking, one sinful action leads to another sinful action and another. As bad as I hate to say it, a one night stand if repented of would be better than a prolonged affair. Sin has a way of blinding us and like David. He knew it wrong to sleep with another man’s wife but he was driven by pride and lust and eventually murdered the husband to get him out of the picture and any real student of the bible will tell you that his life was never the same. His sinful action ripped his family a part.
- FINALLY, SINFUL ACTION [DISOBEDIENCE] LEADS TO DEATH
- The wages of sin is death: all sin leads to death. Every time we sin something dies. It could be a relationship, an opportunity, a hundred thousand brain cells, a little deeper searing of your conscience: it could be your witness, your joy, or your purpose in life.
- Again, David is a prime example: he took a roll in the hay when he was supposed to be in the field fighting the enemy and everything around him began to die. Uriah the Hittite. The son conceived in adultery. Amnon his first born. Absalom his favorite and then Adonijah. First of all, only God knows how many wives and sons he had. I find 19 sons in the bible but these were to wives and he had concubines. No one really knows how many sons he had or how many funerals he attended.
- David was the man who wrote Psalms 119:11… I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. I think he wrote this before his mid-life crisis but I am almost sure the older and wiser David would admit that sin leads to death and death is never pleasant.
- I tell people, “You have to read the small print.” I hate doing business with corporate America, it is dog eat dog. We did business with Linier for years and then they were bought out by some big corp and one of our members was their sales rep: we bought or leased a printer from them and I did not read the fine print. I trusted the sales rep who had not read the fine print himself. These contracts automatically renew themselves if you do not ask for a release within 30 of the end of the contract. You have a 30 day window are they bring you a new printer and you have five more years of payments. That is not all, they sat the default on color and we ran up a $1500 bill and did not even know we were being charged for color. I would tell you how we finally got out of the contract but it would take hours.
- People jump into the affairs like teenagers head over heels in love. They talk and act silly and I am telling them, you are not going to like where this is going and they pay me no attention. I may as well be talking to the wall. In all these years, I have had one couple who listened.