James 1:12-18 starts off with a bang and offers great encouragement to us concerning temptation—if we let it. Remember, in verses 2-11, James is talking about trials and how we are to view them and turn them into triumphs. Here he tells us the person who perseveres when in trials is blessed and will receive the crown of life.
He also gives us a key that can help us in trials. That key? The reason to persevere... Love. Why love?
Because love is the spiritual motivation behind every imperative in this section. ...Where there is love, there is surrender and obedience. ~Warren Wiersbe
Unfortunately, we don't always remain under the pressure that will prove our character, and provide opportunities for spiritual growth and maturity. Those times when we don't endure and persevere, is when things turn into temptations for us. God sends trials to build us up but if we take an easy way out, if we take the bait Satan camouflages—that is the temptation.
What is the source of temptations?Not God! He has nothing to do with temptation.
But the blame does not rest entirely on Satan either. So who does that leave? Ourselves. In verse 14 James says it so clearly—it's our own desires, more specifically, when we want to satisfy them in ways that are outside of God's will. That's when Satan steps in with a highly camouflaged temptation that attracts our attention while hiding the fact that yielding to it will bring sorrow and punishment. Just like a bear won't step on a trap, we won't (or usually don't) throw ourselves into a trap, so Satan disguises the temptation, making it look wonderful. This is why we need God's discernment.
The four stages of sin:
We can see these acted out very clearly in Genesis 3 where Satan goes to Eve and convinces her to eat the forbidden fruit.
Verse 14 contains two similar images, not a succession of action within one image. The first pictures the violent action of capture that follows setting a lure, and second the attractive bait that draws an unsuspecting victim. The extraordinary vividness of these images shows how dangerous James believes the evil impulse to be. Evil desire within us acts as both the attractive bait and as the lure. The evil desire is our own, and a bent to be attracted to it is equally our own responsibility. ~David P. Nystrom
|James 1:12-18 from BibleGateway.com. Click to enlarge so it's readable. ;-)|
When you are looking temptation in the face, get your eyes off the bait and look ahead to see the consequences of sin!
Some things to help us endure so we can grow and mature:
- Giving in to temptation leads to death (verse 15).
- Remember God's goodness! God gives only good gifts and the tense of that phrase is that it's a continual action. He is always giving us good things. The question is, do we accept them as good, even if they don't appear good at first in our limited human sight?
- Remember that God does not change! So we shouldn't doubt His love nor His goodness. When we doubt God's goodness, we open ourselves to the attractive offers Satan puts in front of us.
- Our second birth, salvation, helps us overcome temptation because we now have God's nature within us. He gave us life through the word of truth. Yielding to temptation brings failure but yielding to Christ leads to victory.
Keep in mind:
- Temptations are opportunities to accomplish a good thing in a bad way, out of the will of God.
- Persevere means to remain under the pressure that is sent to grow and mature us.
- God is not to blame for our failure to stand firm in the test. He is the giver of every good gift. We are responsible for our own actions, for turning a test (trial) into a temptation.
- Trials are something to be endured but temptations are something to be avoided.
- “...in our arrogance and ignorance, we demand the right to define what 'good' is. God's definition is often different from ours. So we need wisdom and insight from Him in order to see difficulties for what they are.” (David P. Nystrom)
- Success, by our definition, is not always the same as God's definition of it. We need His discernment so we are not attracted to that powerful lure of success that Satan puts in before us—some are called to be Jeremiahs rather than Elijahs.
- If Satan can get us to spend all our time and energy doing good things, so that God's best things are left undone, he has won.
The Christian who loves God, and who knows that God loves him, will not fall apart when God permits trials to come. He is secure in God's love. ~Warren WiersbeDigging Deeper
- Mull over this concept of first fruits: Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; I Corinthians 15:20, 23; 16:15; Proverbs 3:9
- What does 1 Corinthians 9:24-24 tell us about the crown of life?
- Check out what Proverbs 19:3 says about who's to blame when things "go wrong."
- Read Genesis 22. What is this passage an example of?
- Read Ecclesiastes 9:12, keeping James 1:12-18 in mind. How does it tie in?
- In your mind, what's the difference between trials and temptations?
- Step back and look at your life right now. What are some good things you're doing that might actually be Satan's tactics to lure you away from God's will?
- Be honest with yourself, is there something going on in your life that you are taking the easy way out of simply to get out of the pressure instead of letting it complete it's maturing job in you and for you?