HELP…. DIVINE HELP!

Scripture: James 1:16-18, NLT

16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

NASB

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.

INTRODUCTION

God is not the author of lies and deception. Jesus taught is John 8 that the devil is the author of lies and deception. Jesus said to the Pharisees–“For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jesus is the light. He knows and wants to be known. Jesus has nothing to hid and there is no reason why He would want to deceive anyone but the devil is into deception big time. He is a liar and deceiver. He deceived Eve and has been deceiving since.

The devil uses deception in temptation. Without the power of the lie, temptation would be easy to resist but the devil knows how to hide the hook. God is good: He does not tempt nor can He be tempted. So James stresses two points in regards to temptation: [1] God is good and this is revealed in the gifts He gives. God is generous: He gives, He gives good gifts, He gives constantly and He gives with the right motive. [2] God is Immutable; He does not change. Matter of fact it would be impossible for God to change. He is holy so he cannot change for the worse and he is perfect so He cannot change for the better. God doesn’t need to change and He does not. Everything in His creation is in a state of change but God is forever the same.

With these two attributes understood, let’s follow an outline from Dr. Warren Wiersbe [I tweaked it a bit].

In regards to TEMPTATION…WE NEED TO LOOK AHEAD…We need to envision where this act of disobedience is going to take us. For every action, there is a consequence. If you commit murder, there are consequences. It you rob a bank and get caught, there are consequence. If you leave you wife and children for another woman, there are consequences. If you drink like a fish, there are consequences. If you smart off to your boss, there are consequences. If you speed and get caught, there are severe consequences.

If you fear God and believe in accountability before Him, it will help you overcome temptation. I am not a rocket scientist but I know that the law of retribution is woven into the fabric of the universe and what ever I sow, I will reap. It may be years before I reap but I will reap. Sometimes the harvest season is much longer than the planting season. I reaped through my children and now through my grandchildren. God is just and He is merciful. I have never reaped what I did not sow but God has been kind in that while I was reaping, no one knew it except He and I. I am not a good man. It is not my virtue that keeps me from sin, it is my fear of God and my fear of the consequences. I wish I could honestly say that I have no desire to sin, ever: that my motives and mind are always pure but they are not. I do read the fine print, I do look ahead and it would be wise for you to look ahead.

When I am pleading with a spouse not to leave their mate; I try desperately to get them to look ahead, to fast forward 20 years but most refuse to look at the undeniable consequences that are coming.

The second thing in regards to temptation IS LOOK BACK AND SEE HOW GOOD GOD HAS BEEN TO US. God is good but when I look back over my life, it seems that He has been especially good to me. For me to turn to my own way and ignore His commandment is an act of gross ingratitude. Mrs. Potiphar may have been hot; rich people do have a knack of attracting beautiful women. Joseph did not seduce Mrs. Potiphar, she seduced him and not once but again and again and again. Her lust was so aflame that she tried to disrobe him and force him to lay with her. The first time she seduced him, Joseph said… “Look,” he told her, “my master trusts me with everything in his entire household. No one here has more authority than I do. He has held back nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How could I do such a wicked thing? It would be a great sin against God.” What was Joseph doing? He was looking back at how good God had been to him. His master trusted him. He was in authority over the entire estate: he probably had his own chariot and credit card. He lacked for nothing. For him to sleep with Mrs. P would be an act of ingratitude toward his master and a sin against God.

The consequences of sin and the fear of God should deter us from sin but hopefully we can get to another level where I love for God and our thankfulness for what He has done for us will also deter us.

The third LOOK IS TO LOOK IN. James said in verse 18, “He chose to give birth to us by giving us His true word.”

First of all, in all my years of reading through the bible, I did not remember seeing this verse. I remembered it in the KJV and NASB but not in the NLT. Dr. Wiersbe and others agree that the NLT got it right– James is alluding to the new birth which takes place when we hear the word of God and are convicted by the Holy Spirit.

It takes a father and mother to have a child, a birth. In the Spiritual Realm, it takes two parents to produce a spiritual birth, the WORD and the HOLY SPIRIT.  For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. [1 Peter 1:23]

The Holy Spirit and the word convict us and bring us to Christ. John the Baptist is a type of the Holy Spirit, he preached repentance which prepares us for Christ. No man can receive Christ who has not repented. When we get saved, the Holy Spirit invades our human spirit and takes residence in our life. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ living in us. This is the source of our inner strength.

R.V. G. Tasker [Professor at the University of London and contributing editor of Tyndale Commentary] says, “Of all God’s good gifts, the new birth is the greatest.”

Speaking of the indwelling Christ Paul said, I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

To overcome temptation: We must Treasure God’s word, we must remember that God is good, He is trustworthy and we need to rely on the indwelling Holy Spirit who is our inner strength.

I don’t watch a lot of TV because most of the programs today are either boring or unsuitable for my task. I do confess that I like a good western every now and then and I love history. Several months ago, I caught the very end of the “Star Man” starring Jeff Bridges [1984]. A life form from a more advance world visited earth. Although he had been invited, he was not given a warm welcome. His vastly superior intelligence warned him immediately that earth was not a safe place but this was after he had cloned himself a human body from a strand of hair in a picture album. For the next three days, we have a alien life form living in a human body. He is more intelligent and has far greater power. He has simple solutions to things that are a mystery to us. One of his gifts is to heal and if necessary, restore life. This cat can raise the dead. Does this remind you of anyone? Jesus had vastly superior intellect; Jesus could heal the sick and Jesus could raise the dead. Paul said in Romans 8:11–The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

CONCLUSION

In our lifelong struggle with temptation, we need all the help we can get and that help has been provided by a gracious, good and giving God. He has given us His word as a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path. He has given us good gifts that affirm His goodness and lets us know we can trust Him. He has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit to strengthen our inner man. This is why Paul could say, For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. You can win the battle over temptation but not without Help!

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