Wednesday, November 26, 2014

From temptation to death - James 1:12-16

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." (James 1:12-16)
There are trials that come upon us to test the genuineness and quality of our faith. These trials are represented by seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the promises of God in our life. Joseph, through a dream, had received a promise from God. "Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.." (Genesis 37:6-7) However, after relating this dream to his brothers, his life took a nasty turn. He was sold into slavery and, for the next several years, no one bowed down to him, especially not his brothers. For years he served as a slave and even as a prisoner; his circumstances mocking him and his promise from God. The psalmist relates that, "He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They afflicted his feet with fetters, he himself was laid in irons; until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him." (Psalm 105:17-19) The Word of the Lord tested him in the midst of his trials to see if his faith was genuine or only opportunistic. In the end, his faith won out and he was elevated to governor of Egypt and saved his entire family, and the known world, from famine. Such trials and tribulations we are call to endure and bear up under for they are for our good and for the purification of our faith. Those who endure such trials are promised the crown of life in the age to come.

However, there is another form of trial, one that proceeds from within. Rather than being a trail of our faith it is a trial that is brought about by the raging of our flesh in its lusts and desires. This trial is the struggle between or flesh and spirit and is a struggle that we must overcome. This trial is not to be endured but to be conquered. Is is as God said to Cain, "And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:7)

Jesus said of Himself in relation to the Devil, "the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me." (John 14:30) However, when the "ruler of the world" comes for us, he often finds plenty in our lives to tempt us with. Our lusts, desires, and the impurity of our flesh provide him many opportunities to snare us and to lure us away from our continuance and love for God. James is very clear that such temptation does not originate with God nor even with the Devil, but originates with us. If we had nothing in us by which the Devil could tempt us then there would be no temptation. However, it is the residual lust and desires that provide opportunity for temptation; opportunities that we must over come.

The key to overcoming such temptation is to understand that sin is a process in our lives. No act of sin happens accidentally but is the result of a process that started, festered, and bore fruit in our lives. The process begins with our lust which is enticed by temptation, Temptation is yielded to and sin is born. As we continue to yield to sin, sin works its work on our lives sowing death and destruction to us and those around us. When sin has run its course, it leaves behind only death; spiritual, emotional, intellectual, relational, and physical death.

The secret to overcoming sin in our lives is learning to "unwind" the process. We start by repenting of present and habitual sin in our lives, Next we learn to repent earlier and earlier of our sin so that it has less time to work its destructing work. We then learn how to spot temptation before it overcomes us. having spotted it early we are in a better place to overcome it and to resist its pull on our lives. Finally, we learn how to sanctify our souls to rid ourselves of our impure lusts and impulses. For where there is no lust there can be no temptation. With each step in the process we spend less time in sin and temptation until our mastery over it is complete. Such a process is not easy, but its rewards are eternal.

David Robison

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