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Trials, Temptation, and Transgression


Princeton Christian Church James 1 July 10, 2022

What would your reaction be if I said to you because I am in Christ, in my life there will be no more trials; I will never be tempted again? Well, if you are fully aware of what I said, you would have to say, “think again, Brother. It does not happen that way.

James reminds us that we will still encounter problems and difficulties. Maybe even more so than before we came to Christ.

Specifically, James reminds us that God is more concerned about our personalities than He is with our possessions. He is more concerned with our character than He is with our comforts.

Today I want us to consider three problems or difficulties we will encounter even as we have come to Christ.

The first of these is the reality of trials. The question I asked in the beginning was – will we experience trials as a Christian. The answer, of course, is yes, we will, and we do.

It may sometimes seem that we, individually, are the only Christians who experience trials or difficulties. We all probably have felt that we were singled out to go through some kind of trial, while nobody in the entire world has had this happen to them.

Our humanness causes us to want to experience pleasing events and enjoyable things. But, why do we need to have trials?

It is a truth, although we would rather it not be, it is a truth that in order for us to develop as God expects us to develop fully, both good and bad must be experienced.

But how can we, as mere humans, be happy about difficulties that invade our lives? James assures us that the problems we encounter can work to our benefit through the development of faith.

We can expect trials, even in the Christian life. They will be strong and each of us must be strong, and we must be equipped with the absolute best God has to provide to us.

And God has not left us out there to fend for ourselves. He has provided armor for us to put on in the midst of our trials and difficulties. The armor of God is listed for us in Ephesians 6:10-20 so that we can withstand the evil schemes of the devil. He provides, not just armor, but the full armor of God so that we are completely protected against evil. That armor includes Truth, Righteousness, the Preparation of the Gospel, Faith, and the Helmet of Salvation, along with the sword of the Lord, which is the Word of God.

Now, let us look at temptation and how we must react to that trial. Temptation has been a force in the world since God created man and woman. From the beginning of Biblical history man’s life has been interrupted and affected by temptation. This is true, not just for man, but also even for Jesus. He knew about temptation because of His encounter with the Great Tempter – Satan – in the wilderness. (Matthew 3:1-11). Because He was able to withstand and defeat Satan’s temptations, He was able to come out of that experience stronger.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that “no temptation has seized us that is not common to men”. Our only hope to avoid being submissive to temptation is to seek God in developing the wisdom we need to overcome temptation.

Wisdom is described throughout the Bible as something we should be seeking after. In Acts 6:3, the leaders of the church were to be men of wisdom. In Colossians 1:9-10, Paul tells us the importance of wisdom. He tells us that wisdom and understanding come to us through the Holy Spirit “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light.”

When Christians develop wisdom, a new insight, a new strength, and a new understanding is available when temptations arise.

The key to all of this is found in James 1:5 when he says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God". And God expects that as we come to Him, asking for wisdom, we are to have the faith to believe that God will distribute His measure of wisdom to us. And when the wisdom is given, we must act upon the wisdom we have received.

We must be careful in our use of wisdom because it can be misused. James lists several examples of how wisdom can be misused – James 1:6 – doubt – if we ask anything of Him, but doubt that He will provide it; James 3:13-17 – bitter jealousy; selfish ambitions (asking for the wrong reasons); asking in arrogance. These invite disorder and every evil thing.

The real example of wisdom, the one we should model ourselves after is described in James 1:12: "Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of like that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

The person who perseveres is the one who has found spiritual wisdom. The climax of perseverance is a joy both for the present in which we live and for eternity.

To defeat temptation with divine wisdom is to receive the crown of life, which is eternal.

So, we have seen the importance of seeking victory through trials and overcoming temptation as tests of faith.

Now, we must ask ourselves, “Who do I blame when I experience tests and temptations? Our natural being too often wants to blame God. But if we will take the time to think that through, is God the source of our tests and temptations? No, of course not. So, let’s blame the one who is responsible for all the tests, trials, and temptations. That one can only be – Satan!

We can go back and look at Job. God did not cause Job’s problems. But we know God allowed them to happen. Satan caused the problems to test Job – to see where his loyalties lie. He wanted to see if Job would curse God. Job’s friends tried to convince him that he was receiving what he deserved because of some serious malfunction in his relationship with God.

But Job remained true to God, and because of his faith, God restored his fortunes, his friends, and his family.

We must be aware of the harm Satan brings into the world, and into our individual lives. Satan does tempt us, but we have the free will to resist or give in to the temptation.

Because Satan is the Tempter, we must make sure that we do not allow desire to overtake us and give birth to sin.

When sin is full-grown, it gives us over to Satan and Satan controls our lives. When Satan controls our lives, what has happened? We have died spiritually.

The combination of spiritual death and physical death can only lead to eternal death and separation from God.

So, we can see that James provides us with good insight into the faithful life of a Christian. He points out that we need to develop a positive attitude toward life's difficulties. Know the value of those difficulties and the growth possibilities when we are able to overcome them. It is through them that we find the source of our strength.

We must be encouraged to discover God’s standards and to live them out in our faith.

James sums up his teaching in James 4:7-8 when he writes: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you.”

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