Shelby G. Floyd
Credit: Google Images
This lesson is drawn from the first chapter of James:
“12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 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” (James 1:12-16 NKJV).
James speaks of the nature of temptation and sin. The Bible teaches that Christ came into this world to “save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Satan is the originator of sin (1 John 3: 8). Sin was and is universal or else the coming of Christ was of no purpose: “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 NIV). Again it is said, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:22-23).
And even Christian people sin: “5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:5-10 NKJV).
EVERYONE WILL BE TEMPTED
The testing or trial mentioned in our text is a solicitation to do evil. Temptation is not a matter of “if,” but it is a matter of “when.” Notice that James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted.…” Both Adam and Christ were tempted. Therefore we may expect everybody else to be tempted. When Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, he said to his disciples, “Watch and pray less you enter into temptation” (Matthew 26: 41). Temptation is sure to confront us all.
DO NOT BLAME GOD
When we are tempted, let us not try to shift the blame from ourselves to God: “When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
We live in an age when most people refuse to accept responsibility for their conduct, and want to shift the blame to someone else. Therefore, when we’re tempted and we yield and sin, do not blame God! God doesn’t tempt anyone. He himself cannot be tempted—he has no evil desire to do something wrong. It doesn’t make sense that God would try to get his people to do something that he cannot do himself. Let it not be said that God tempts us, because he is not in the tempting business.
SATAN IS THE TEMPTER
If God does not tempt us, who is it that would tempt us? We all know who that would be—it is Satan. In the beginning God is the creator. He created man, the beautiful garden and all of its delights. God placed man in that paradise and generously allowed him to eat of all the fruit except the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He gave our first parents a,
POSITIVE DIVINE LAW:
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17).
A positive divine law is a law that should be obeyed for no other reason except that God said to obey it. It is a test of faith and loyalty.
Immediately Satan showed up and began to plant doubt in the heart of Adam and Eve. Satan wanted them to be “double minded.” Scripture says, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, `You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (Genesis 3:1-6).
Satan tempted Adam and Eve through a lie. According to Jesus Christ the devil is the father of all liars: “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan said to Eve, “you shall not surely die.” The difference between the truth and a lie was just one word. It was the “not” in the devil’s tail! Adam and Eve chose to believe and obey a lie rather than the truth of God.
How did this temptation and sin come about? Eve saw that the forbidden fruit was desirable to see and taste and she perceived that it would make her wise like God. She then plucked the fruit, ate it and gave it to her husband, who also ate it with his eyes wide open. Satan tempted Adam and Eve through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
This is the way temptation works to bring sin into our lives. God does not tempt us, but Satan will. How does Satan tempt us? Through your eyes he will dazzle things before you that are forbidden; through the desires of the flesh he will urge you to do things that are forbidden; and yes, through your pride he will encourage you to be haughty. God hates pride (Proverbs 6:16-19).
God does not tempt us to sin. Satan tempts us to sin. Do not blame God for your temptation and sin. Someone once said, “The devil made me do it.” Do not blame the devil for your sin. While the devil tempts us, he does not force us to yield to that temptation. Let us not shift the responsibility and blame God, Satan, or someone else for our actions. In the beginning Adam blamed God because God gave him Eve; Eve blamed the serpent for beguiling her; and the serpent had no one to blame. Man is responsible for his actions and no one else.
What is sin? It literally means to miss the mark or the bull’s-eye. We sin when we miss the mark in our thinking, our attitude and in our actions. Sin is lawlessness (1 John 3: 4). Sin is to know to do good and then not to do the good (James 4: 17). All unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5: 17). We sin also when we try to operate and serve God without faith (Romans 14: 7).
TEMPTATION AND FISHING
The way temptation works is a lot like fishing: “13 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 (James 1:13-14).
James is using a metaphor from fishing to demonstrate how Satan tempts us: “Every man is tempted when he is lured away by his own lust and enticed.” Those three words: lured, lust, and enticed, describes how temptation works. Satan entices us through his blandishments to disobey God. As Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his devices.”
I remember when I was a young boy and we lived on a farm with a fishing hole. We had a big tree that grew out over the fishing hole. Through the years the rain and storms had washed the dirt away from the roots. We would take a fishing line, hook some worms and drop it down between the roots where we could see the fish come out to inspect the “bait.” We would dangle the worm before the eyes of the sunfish and bluegills and watch them come out from their covert to taste the worm. When it was in their mouth we would “set the hook.” When I caught my first little bluegill, you would have thought I had caught a whale! But I learned a great lesson about how Satan lures us away from the safety of our lives in Christ, by dazzling before us his bait. But like the fishermen, he always has a hook that we cannot see.
THE BIOGRAPHY OF SIN
Having developed the nature and workings of temptation, let us now look at the lifespan of sin. In reference to sin, James changes the metaphor from fishing to that of childbirth—the conception, birth and maturity of sin: “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:15).
THE CONCEPTION OF SIN
“When lust has conceived, it brings forth sin” (James 1:15). The mind is where the seed of lust is planted and where sin is conceived. It is in the mind and heart of man that the great workshop of sin is conceived: Jesus taught, “What comes out of a man is what makes him `unclean.’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man `unclean'” (Mark 7:20-23).
Lust conceives when we are lured away and enticed. The seed of sin is then conceived in our heart. Sin is therefore best checked in its incipiency. David once said, “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11).
THE BIRTH OF SIN
Now let us look at the birth of sin: “Lust when it has conceived, brings forth sin” (James 1: 15). The phrase “brings forth” is a metaphor of childbirth. That is a good picture of how evil desire conceives the idea in the heart of man of violating God’s Law and then overtly bringing the fact of sin into a person’s life. The seed of lust produces fruit. Lust will lie dormant in our heart only for short time. Soon lust “brings forth” sin as a fact in our life. Evil desire when entertained will bring forth evil deeds: “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of the heart are the issues of life,” says Solomon. The heart manufactures all kinds of evil deeds (Matt. 15:15-20). Sin is born when we do the deed or commit the act that is contrary to the will of God. In Galatians we have the great catalog of sins and if we practice those things we will not inherit the kingdom of God:
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: [a]adultery, [b]fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, [c]murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” NKJV
When we analyze the works of the flesh, they fall into several different groups: malicious thoughts will breed and give birth to murder, wickedness, railings and slander; selfish thoughts will breed and give birth to pride, deceit, theft, coveting and an evil eye; and lustful thoughts will breed and give birth to adultery, fornication, lasciviousness and uncleanness. Therefore, we must guard our hearts with all diligence, for that is where sin originates. To deal with sin we must go to the source rather than trying to deal with the results. That is the problem with society today. People get their lives all messed up and then they try to deal with the results instead of the source. And that never works to change a person’s life.
FULL GROWN SIN DELIVERS DEATH
Sin is a serious matter, because when it is matures it gives birth (“brings forth”) death. Sin leads to death—that is the offspring it produces. That is the autobiography of sin—temptation, sin and death. God said to Adam and Eve, “In the day you eat thereof you will surely die.” Adam and Eve died the day they ate the forbidden fruit in the sense that they were separated from God. Sin always separates us from God: “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” ( Romans 5:12).
Sin Pays Wages
Under a different metaphor, Paul says that Satan will pay us our wages for serving sin—the wages of sin is death: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Physical death results from sin—because of Adam’s sin—we have all been cut off from the tree of life. But that is the reason Christ came into the world. “For when we were still without strength, [a]in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
Redemption Is Through the Blood
Christ died on the cross and shed his blood for us because “without the shedding of blood there is no remission.” “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:7-8 ). “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).
The gospel is the prescription for temptation, sin and death (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4). Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16: 15-16). Salvation from sin demands repentance of our sins. “Except you repent you shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13: 3, 5). We are instructed as to how we can take care of the sin problem. According to the statement in James, we are to be born again by the word of God (James 1: 18; John 3: 1-8). Instead of sin and death let us be born from above! *
*Shelby G. Floyd delivered this sermon February 17, 2002 and August 4, 2019, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana. Copyright © 2008, 2019 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142