Tests and Temptations
James 1:13-16, 4:7
by Cooper Abrams
Introduction: In 1910 the boll weevil wiped out most of the cotton crop in the south forcing southern farmers to diversify by planting peanuts and other new crops. The change brought prosperity to the region. Growers in Enterprise, Alabama, were so grateful to the destructive beetle for ending their one-crop dependency that they eventually erected a monument to him in their town square in 1919. Time has a way of putting things into the right perspective.
Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God tests us to bring out the best in us.
I. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEMPTATION AND TESTING (TRIALS).
James 1:13-15 explains:
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
1. Carnal nature. James 1:14-15
2. Satan. 1 Peter 5:8. "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
B. God's tests are designed to strengthen your commitment to obey no matter what the cost (Rom. 15:3-4).
b. Christ could not sin, because God has no sin nature. The test therefore on proved this truth.
c. There is absolutely nothing wrong with testing something to prove what it is.
2. We should all be students and seeking to learn. It has been said that:
"A trial is but a short lived matter if it is dealt with, and when overcome gives a life time of benefit." (Amen!)
ILLUS: A man told of visiting an orange grove where an irrigation pump had broken down. Because the season was unusually dry, some of the trees were beginning to die for lack of water. The man giving the tour then took him to his own orchard where irrigation was used sparingly. He said, "These trees could go without rain for another 2 weeks. You see, when they were young, I frequently kept the water from them.
The child of God does not have to sin. God Himself says He provides the means to overcome or escape the temptation which means that if a believer sins he does so willingly and in defiance of God. The phrase "the Devil made me do it" is untrue. Sin is always a willful act and for the believer one of knowingly disobeying God.
3. He seeks to devour people: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
4. Satan works within churches to turn members away from God into sin and thus destroy or make the church not effective for Christ. His tools are apathy, false teachings, and appeals to pleasure.
b. 2 Cor. 11:3, Paul concerned for the Corinthians and desiring them to be kept from false doctrine says: False doctrine will lead a congregation away from God and in doing so lose the blessing and power of God.
c. Look at all the false "Christian" churches today! Many people have been misled. Many of these churches appear to be outwardly very successful. But God will not bless error or use false teachers or teaching to carry on His work. I think it would come as a great surprise to many in "Christendom" if we saw these churches as God sees them. d. A good example is found in Revelation 2-3 when the Lord Jesus spoke to seven churches in Asia and has serious warns for five of them to turn from sin and false teaching. It is the same today. Most of those that Christ addressed looked good on the outside, but were not pleasing God. I believe on reason today for so many preachers falling into personal sin and others leading their congregations in error is that the Lord Jesus warned such churches that He would remove their God called pastor if they did not repent. Many failed to repent and the Lord took His pastor from them and they then called a "hireling" or false preacher. God's men love the Lord and follow Him and they do not compromise God's word or misled their flocks.
1. James 4:7 says to "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from thee.
Many people read Ephesian 5:18 which says "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."
However, many fail to read the whole paragraph which set the context of the statement:
C. God provides the means to overcome any temptation as 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us and gives us God's way of overcoming and escaping Satan's attacks. We are not to rely on our own wisdom, but totally rely on God. Temptation is common to us all, but for the believer God it is actively present every moment of every day providing the means to escape the present temptation. Note what the verse says:
3. Next, he inquired who she was, and then he had her brought to him.
4. His failure to turn away to the temptation ended in adultery, deceit and murder.
Let's look at verses that tell us how we can stand against temptations.
B. Understand that the intent of Temptation is to please yourself instead of obeying God's instruction to flee destructive sin.
C. Realize that the seeking of self-gratification of the flesh characterizes the unsaved. It is to be avoided in favor of living a healthy, happy, abundant and fruitful life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-4).
D. Accept that testing and suffering are common to all who follow Christ. ". . . and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Rom. 8:17). 2 Timothy 3:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." E. Admit that those who remain faithful in trials (test or temptations) prove the reality of their faith.
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (James 1:12)
F. You will never face any temptation or trial that you cannot, through Christ overcome.
" The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2 Peter 2:9).
G. Your trials are used by God to develop Christ like character in your life and are to be received with JOY! My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, (James 1:2)
H. No matter how difficult the trial or how prolonged it may be Christ is able to see you through it and deliver you from it. The Word of God tells us to seek God help to overcome and forgiveness when we fail.
"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (Hebrews 2:18).
"For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us; God tests us to bring out the best in us.
Another commentator, Bonhoeffer gives this vivid description of our tendency to turn off the warnings, when sin alluringly winks at us, needs to be declared to every generation:
"In our members there is a slumbering inclination towards desire which is both sudden and fierce. With irresistible power, desire seizes mastery over the flesh. All at once a secret, smoldering fire is kindled. The flesh burns and is in flames.
It makes no difference whether it is fleshy desire, or ambition, or vanity, or desire for revenge, or love of fame and power, or greed for money, or, finally, that strange desire for the beauty of the world, of nature.
Joy in God is...extinguished in us and we seek all our joy in the creature. At this moment, God is quite unreal to us, he loses all reality, and only desire for the creature is real; the only reality is the devil.
Satan does not here fill us with hatred of God, but with forgetfulness of God. And now his falsehood is added to this proof of strength. The lust thus aroused envelopes the mind and will of man in deepest darkness.
We must constantly ask ourselves, "Is there everything within me rises up against the Word of God.
My friend do not think you can overcome your fleshly nature. You cannot. That is God's business. He does it by letting you come to Him and seek His faithful help and He never refuses when asked.
He helps you overcome by giving you pure instruction in the Bible. He gives principles to learn that apply in all circumstances.
God to allows trials and temptation to teach us to learn how to live Godly lives and win others to Christ.
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