Life is a Test Series – James 1:13-17
Intro: "I didn't do it, it's not my fault!” How often have you heard or said that? I came from a rather large family of 7 brothers and sisters and a mom and dad. For 10 years I was the middle child. I can recall the blame game that was often played amongst the siblings! And of course I was also the perfect child never needing attention or at fault for anything that might be done. It is not only with brothers or sisters that many of us can recall being a part of the blame game. This seems to be a great game to play with many other areas of our life. James doesn’t hold back with the reality of the nature of things. Problem is many don’t understand the nature of anything: There are four natures I want to speak of today: “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12 Text: James 1:13-17
“Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
With the blame game someone is always saying it is not my fault – In the Christian mind set as well as the world’s mindset it is interesting how often the devil gets blamed. In reality it is rare that "The Devil made you do! Though we often blame him: “Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." Genesis 3:12-13
The poor blames life’s circumstances, the alcoholic blames the pressures of their circumstances, the rich blame a lot of things; however, do you really think you can blame God for this current situation you are in? "It's not my fault! Well there is a good change it is your fault: “The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the LORD.” Proverbs 19:3
James gives four strong proofs that God is not responsible for our temptations and even less responsible, if that were possible, for our submitting to them in sin. He does so by explaining the nature of evil, the nature of man, the nature of lust, and the nature of God.
1. The Nature of Evil: Vs. 13b“Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil.”
In the Outer Banks there are several roads that you cannot drive straight through to get to an intersection, it is impossible! You can't blame God for your sin, it is impossible, you can't drive straight through with the blame game, it is impossible. God and evil exist in two distinct realms that never meet. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
His holiness is eternally unmixed with anything less than pure and perfect righteousness. “Because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." 1 Peter 1:16
Matthew reports that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” Matthew 4:1. From Satan’s perspective, the experience was intended as temptation (inducement to sin), for Jesus the experience was a test, which He passed without the least wavering. God allows the trials in which temptation can occur, not to solicit believers to sin, but to move them to greater endurance.
2. The Nature of Man: Vs. 14 ‘But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”
Every human being is tempted; there are no exceptions. Another Blame Game comes with the understanding of Enticement: Illustration – Animals and fish are good examples of creatures that can be easily enticed. The right bait or trap is all it takes, and so it is also with the nature of man. In exactly the same way, we succumb to temptation when our own lust draws us toward evil things that are appealing to fleshly desire.
Sin can look attractive and pleasurable, and usually is, at least for a while. Otherwise it would have little power over us. Satan tries to make sin as attractive as possible. But there would be no attraction of sin were it not for man’s own sinful lust, which makes evil seem more appealing than righteousness, falsehood more appealing than truth, immorality more appealing than moral purity, the things of the world more appealing than the things of God. We cannot blame Satan, his demons, ungodly people, or the world in general for our own lust. Even more certainly, we cannot blame God. The problem is not a tempter from without, but the traitor within.
We are not tempted even indirectly “by God”, but we are directly carried away and enticed by our own lust. The fault is entirely within us, in our unredeemed flesh. “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 21 I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. 22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7:18-25
The nature of man enjoys sin: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41
3. The Nature of Lust: Vs. 15-16 "Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
A third proof that God is not the source of temptation and one you cannot blame is seen in the nature of lust. Having identified lust in the nature of man, James then discusses it in practical terms. Here is the heart of his teaching about temptation. There are four steps you climb in the nature of Lust: DESIRE = lust. This is an emotion, feeling, a longing within for something we cannot have. Commercials can have that effect! The next step is deception, which is more closely related to the mind than to the emotions. When we think about a desired object, our mind begins to rationalize a justification for getting it. That is virtually an automatic part of the process of temptation. The third step is that of design, when plans start to be made to fulfill the emotional desire that we have rationalized and justified with our minds. This stage involves our will, our conscious decision to pursue the lust until it is satisfied. The fourth and final stage is disobedience. If we allow the process to continue, the design inevitably produces disobedience to God’s law, by which it gives birth to sin. That which is desired, rationalized, and willed is actually done, committed, and accomplished. Desire leads to deception, deception to design, and design to disobedience, which is sin.
The principle of “nipping it in the bud” has no better application than here. The battle must be fought in the mind, where sin is conceived. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” Romans 12:2
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Stop blaming other people, circumstances, or Satan for your temptations and sins. Above all, do not blame God. Take full blame on yourselves, where it belongs. Realize that your enemy—your fallenness, your lusts, your weaknesses, your rationalizations, and your sins—are within and have to be dealt with from within. When a believer wins the battle on the inside, he can say with Paul: “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.” 2 Corinthians 1:12
4. The Nature of God: Vs. 17 ”Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” God’s own nature is incompatible with the nature of sin. Because God is wholly righteous and just, by definition He can have no part in sin, in any way or to any degree. We are told that “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” 1 John 1:5
When we, as God’s children, are so abundantly and continually showered with the most gracious, valuable, and satisfying blessings our heavenly Father can bestow, why should anything evil have the slightest attraction to us?
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