MAKING YOUR LIFE USEFUL

Donít let your lusts get the best of you

James 1:13-18

Jerry A Collins

10/26/08

SCC

 

v                 What is the essence of temptation?

v                 What is the process that brings temptation?

v                 What is the alternative to temptation?

 

The most basic question we face in dealing with the subject of sin and temptation is, Why do we sin? What is there in us that causes us to do those things we know are contrary to the character of God? Godís character is the standard for our lives. Sin is a violation of that standard by itsí very nature. But why do we do it? James has an answer for us and it is rooted in the concept that our focus on our desires within us that are contrary to Godís for us is the basis of our choosing to sin. Every day we face a decision of our desires and it is here that the battle for our affections take place and determine whether we will pursue holiness of sinfulness. Sometimes it happens abruptly and other times it takes awhile. First, though James wants us to know where these temptations do not originate from.

WE MUST NOT CHARGE GOD WITH RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR TEMPTATIONS 13

You can use God as an easy excuse for your sinning and free yourself from responsibility claiming it originated with God. We can be tempted to blame God for our own evil under stress. This is illogical first of all, since God cannot be tempted by evil by definition. There is nothing in God to which evil can make an appeal. Secondly, God tempts no one. God often tests us but He cannot tempt us. So how could Jesus be tempted? Because He lived in the same world with various trials like we do. Jesus was really tempted by Satan but as God He was not tempted by Satanís efforts because as God, His holy nature contained nothing that could respond positively to these solicitations. Good is what God is by definition. He does not solicit to evil as James makes clear to us here. So you cannot blame God for your lustful enticements. There is another reason why we are tempted to sin. James spells that out for us by detailing the process temptation follows to exert itís influence on us.

WE ARE TEMPTED TO SIN WHEN OUR DESIRES TURN LUSTFUL

So we sin when we get carried away by our desires. What we have here is the genealogy of sin. It is conceived, then birthed, then grows, and then brings death.

1) To be tempted to sin is to be in a situation where there is an urge, an inclination, a feeling, a test, between obedience and disobedience 14a. So we cannot avoid temptation because in this world as created beings, we will always be in situations that test our willingness to submit to God and His will for us. Temptation to sin is the inclination to decide to not remain in submission to God.

2) We choose to follow our urges to sin 14b. Our lusts are habits or dispositions that continually incline our hearts toward evil. All Satanís efforts to lead us into evil; all the worldís seductions would have no effect upon us unless we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed. There is not temptation for us except when we respond to some seduction from within our own desires. We disobey, we rebel, we do not submit because of a desire within us. We simply want what we want. And when we focus our attention on what we want, we eventually go for it. So the bottom line root cause of our sin is not our temptations but our desires. We just do not sit down, think things over, and decide to not be in submission to God. When we sin we ignore the whole subject of submission to God and focus on our desires. Our desires replace God as our focus (Psa 78:17-18; Rom 6:11-12; 13:14; Gal 5:16-17, 24). We can desire what is good and pursue what is righteousóthe fruit of the Spirit. But when our desires are enticed we are tempted to sin.

3) Our sinful desires give birth to sin 15a. The origin of sin is in our desires. Adam and Eve took their focus off of God and what He desired for them and decided they wanted the fruit. So they followed their own desires because they believed what God said was not best for them. They disagreed with God about what is good. Whenever our desires lead to sin it is because we are disagreeing with God about what is in our best interests. Sin is disobedience to God. It is to disagree with God. So we carve our own path; move in our own direction contrary to the will of God. We think and believe we know better what is in our best interests.

4) Death is the cul-de-sac into which our lusts can lead us 15b. Sin bears a child through lusts conceptionódeath. Death is the grandchild of our sinful lusts and desires. Sin always leads to death. It disguises the outcome and deceives us by itís very nature and the consequence is always death. If you fail to keep your desires in check through the Spirit and the Word of God, then the world which provides the opportunities for temptation; the flesh with itís natural tendencies toward sin; the devilís fiery darts will overtake you and lead you into evil, sin & death. Donít be deceived otherwise vs 16. How could God have tempted you? Death comes about by sin. God by His nature is a giver not taker!

GOD ONLY GIVES GOOD GIFTS INCLUDING OUR NEW LIFE

First of all, our God is a lavish and flawless giver vs 17. Notice every good and perfect gift is from Him and therefore from aboveófar beyond what is sinfully conceived from within us. So, all of our giving here is flawed because we are flawed. Only God gives perfect gifts. Anything that qualifies as a good and appropriate kind of givingóevery good act of giving is only from above. That is because God is the Father of lights with no variation or shadow. The reference here is technical in the sense of the movements related to the heavenly bodiesóthat is the sun, moon, stars and planets. This is a reference by James to God as the creator of these heavenly bodies or lights. James is not an evolutionist. In contrast to these heavenly creations which undergo fluxuations like rotation and casting shadows, God is unchanging in His activity of giving. His giving and gifts are always good and perfect. Maybe this can motivate us to kill those lustful desires to give ourselves selfish and sinful gifts.

Second, God has given us the greatest gift of salvation vs 18. We can only give birth to death vs 15; but God gives us a new birth vs 18. New birth finds itís source in Godís own will 18a. So God of His own will shines the light of the gospel into our hearts so we can perceive itís light through the Word of truth(Mt 16:17). So the amazing outcome of Godís will and Word is that we who are born again become as it were the first fruits among His creatures 18b. Godís gift of life to us is a foretaste of the life to come. Our new life, this gift from God that is good and perfect, foreshadows what God has planned for the entire creation in His future plan. So let that motivate you to desire what is righteous and good now.

1. Guard your heart by feeding godly desires. When we eliminate our lusts we destroy the entry point for temptation.

2. Fill your heart with better concerns. Love Christ. Pray and be vigilant. Study the Word and apply it to your life situations.

3. Know God better. He is a giver of life while sin is a taker of it. Thank Him for giving to you. Praise Him for what He has already given to you. Honor Him for what He promises to yet give.