We got this, guys. All righty, so, guys, if you could open your Bible up to the Book of James. We’re going to go ahead and get started right now.
Now, James, if you are, if you’ve been using a paper Bible, you noticed that your Bibles are open up to Hebrews. All right, back row, I’m going to call you out. I know your name. I won’t say it out loud.
If you’ve been opening your Bible up with us for most of this year, Hebrews will be kind of where you want to go. You want to go just a page past that. All right. We’re in the Book of James. So last week we made sense of the call of how we face trials with pure joy, all in on joy as we face trials in our lives.
And Eddie did a really great job just helping us see how even though we may never, ever know why we suffer, we can know that ultimately, growth is what God has in mind for us in the midst of it. I appreciate my takeaway was that we can rejoice in suffering because we know what God is up to. And I’ve carried that with me this week, and I want to keep that in my pocket for the next trial I’m facing. And I don’t know what your week’s been like. I know a lot of us have faced a lot of different trials the last few weeks, and that is really only safe to say because that’s just how life is, right?
But in the weeks to come, I’m excited to unfold the Book of James. It’s really a book that has a lot of practical truth, has a lot of illustrations. It’s quite unique in a lot of different ways. And it was also written by the brother of Jesus Christ himself. So as you hear these words, think about how he processed the kingdom of God within his home, and now it’s here in this letter to help us understand it more.
But, yeah, you got to understand that this is indeed a letter, and it was written by James. James the Just. And yet, only a decade after Jesus sermons, right, sermons on the mountain, he was definitely concerned, even though it was only ten years, he was concerned with where the church was at and the things he was facing and the pressures that abounded and just all the forces that infiltrated the church. And so here he’s trying to direct the church as it struggles. It’s struggling to follow Jesus.
You might notice that it’s a little different than Hebrews. Having left months and months of processing Hebrews, I would say that style lends itself well to the way we think and the way we discourse here with a Western way of thinking. But Proverbs is a lot more like what James is like, right? It’s a lot more of wisdom literature, and a very Jewish in heritage. And so the book of Proverbs is really referenced, and that’s the style it takes.
But it is a little bit disjointed when you read it, right? The flow kind of stops, starts. It goes to topic, to a different topic, and you wonder, how did we get here or where are we going next as you go through this letter? And it’s cool that if you could look in the Greek, you would see some really beautiful wordplays.
There’s a lot of wordplay where he ends, like even the word greetings, right? It’s very close to the word joy, which is in the next sentence. And he hops almost like he’s on monkey bars from topic to topic. And there’s loose connections, but it’s almost like a tapestry, right? He’s weaving together a beautiful story and a lot of important truths to help us, or like a crossword puzzle where each of the words have a letter that intersects and he’s like, we’re going here next.
Just to demonstrate the style of James and what I mean, I want to take a minute or two just to show you what it is, this style here. Okay? So I’ll start here. I want to formally welcome anyone who’s here from UCF. Anyone here from UCF? Back, right?
Come on. There’s way more than you. I know you guys are here. Valencia, Full Sail, right? It’s welcome week, and so we’re just grateful to have you guys.
I went to UCF, and I’m really grateful you’re here, so welcome back. And speaking of college, when I was in college, one of my favorite breakfast, the only thing I knew how to cook was a 32nd microwave waffle.
This week we enjoyed waffles in your honor because that’s how I got to college, waffles. Some people do ramen. But if you are sick of whatever it is, if it’s waffles this week, I encourage you to stick around and get to know someone. Maybe there’s an older person here that wants to invite you over for dinner, right? And maybe you’re going to get a free meal out of it.
But I do warn you, when you’re there, mind your manners. Don’t be a wolf. Don’t wolf your food down. You might not be invited back. You got all the things mom and dad taught you at the dinner table.
Keep that in mind. But speaking of wolves, since we’re on the topic, does anybody in here know how to howl like a wolf? Go ahead, everybody. Oh, can I get a hallelujah? Okay, I appreciate you guys.
I saw Mia. Was that Mia back there? You were the bravest. So I have a little present for you because speaking of wolves, you’re the leader of the pack. I got a pack of gum for you, all right?
I think you’ll appreciate it. Are you ready? Okay.
Sorry, my friend.
I mean, you guys are great here. And speaking of a pack of gum, I also have gummy worms.
This is lunch. Anyone needs some lunch? You got to promise if you get this, you’re going to share them, all right? You got to share them, all right?
That’s why you play basketball. Oh, my gosh. Picking on the short guy. Always. But speaking of worms, do you guys like to go fishing?
You like to go fishing? I mean fishing, right? Don’t use those as bait. They will not work. They’re not going to work well. All right? They may be squirmy, but fish don’t like those. And speaking of fish, there are way better lures out there, right? Things that help you catch what you need. So we’re done. I’m not going farther than this.
I hope you understand what James is sort of doing as he writes this letter. But he is an artist. He weaves together what seems like disjointed concepts, but he has a purpose in mind. And we’ll return to lures later. I promise.
I won’t leave you hanging. But what I want to do here is hook you in the beginning, get your attention. Yeah. And I hope I’ve done that, too. Amen.
But despite its random nature, there’s a lot of themes that James likes to dance around. He loves dancing through different themes. And in a word, I would distill this down to worldliness. He’s dealing with worldliness in this letter and how it’s creeping into the church. And it’s a big concern, right? You can see just from all the topics he has that his audience is dealing with a couple of different things, right? Political pressure, financial insecurity, poverty, classism, prejudice. They’re not walking the walk the way they’re talking the talk. And when they’re talking the talk, they’re tearing each other down.
Or when they’re praying with words, they’re using them faithlessly. Right? And so he has so many concerns and he recycles them. But one of them too, is looking no different from the world.
In fact, they’re becoming friends with the world. And I do think even though this was written so long ago, it really, like so much of the Bible, it hits home today. It does. It’s just like the water that we are swimming in and the currents of the world still rage against the kingdom of God and God’s way of living.
Last week, Eddie talked about he did chapter one, verses one through twelve, and he walked us up to verse twelve and it spoke about suffering. And the verse that stood out was counted all joy, complete joy, when you meet trials of various kinds. And he really did open up a can of worms on trials, right? But we have more to say. This is only the first half.
James continues to talk about trials and uses the word again in verse twelve. And we’ll walk all the way through verse 18 today. So let’s read our Scripture, verse twelve through 18. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial. For when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. Let no one when he is tempted say I am being tempted by God. For God cannot be tempted with evil and He Himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire then desire when it has conceived. Gives birth to sin and when sin is full grown it gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Life happens. There’s a lot of circumstances we can’t control. There’s a lot of things we persevere through. But from God’s word today we’re going to look at internal trials. Things that want to take us out that come from within us. There’s all kinds of forces that would stop us from continuing walking with God and today we even see a couple as we lead up to this verse. Verse five. Right? He’s addressing our weaknesses and in verse five he says we have a limitation in our wisdom. We should ask for more. Or verse six we lack faith from time to time. Verse nine our own pride all the way through eleven says our own self reliance all of these things we need to deal with it’s not just things around us. He names them trials again in verse twelve and really he’s talking about temptation and that’s our topic today. Temptation. Our trials that we bring to the equation and there’s a lot to learn here but temptation clearly said in chapter four a little later in this letter, he says that we have these temptations. He calls them passions that are like a war within us just swirling around inside of us.
In life it’s not a matter of if we’re going to be tempted it’s a matter of when it’s going to happen. When are we going to be tempted? Because it’s coming and there’s so much packed into these verses that they give us a lot of keys to fighting temptation to fighting the fight and standing strong when we’re enduring that kind of trial. And so what we have today it starts in verse twelve we’ll look verse by verse, but he starts off with a blessing really a promise for those that will endure temptation. Beginning in verse twelve blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial for when he has stood a test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him.
I think there’s a lot of motivation that could bring us through to the end with our faith. Right? And sometimes we try to rank them. Like are you motivated by fear of hell or the joy of heaven or the love of Christ? What compels you? And I think sometimes we can nix and knock off some motivations that God scripturally gives us. And one of them here, he holds out the reward that is at the end of a life of perseverance. Not a bad thing to be motivated by a reward. Doesn’t mean you have an impure motive.
God wants us to know that we have a reward coming if we stand strong, and it’s meant to be encouraging, motivating through the toughest of times. You got to keep that in your pocket. And when trials seem unbearable, it is fair game to keep this in mind. It says when you stood the test because it’s testing. Testing season has begun. The second you step into life, really, or class like, it’s the school of hard knocks. But the test. And the term here, he actually kind of borrowed it from the context of currency and money exchange. It’s used a lot there. When you’re testing something that’s counterfeit or if it’s fake, they didn’t have, like, apps or VeriFone. They had coins, like coins stamped with an image and stamped with the empire’s image, right?
And so they might bite it. I don’t know how they would test it, but they would know this is real, this is not fake, right? The pawn shop guy bites your gold chain, he’s like, all right, I’ll give you this much. It’s worth this much verified. Or the lady marks up your $100 bill and sees that beautiful portrait that’s hidden when she holds it up to the light. Because she wants to know that it’s the real deal.
It’s not fake. It holds real worth. And that’s what trials do. They show us when we stood the test that we are both tried and true, just like our communion song. And the reward we’re going to get when we do stand the test. He calls it the crown of life.
It’s not this special crown. Honestly, they would have thought about the wreath that you would get in the Greek games when a victor would run across the finish line and he would get the honor of having that wreath put on his head. But this wreath, this wreath is life itself. That wreath would go bad if it was made of flowers and leaves, but this wreath is life, eternal life. And it’s given to you by the God of the universe himself. Like, I want to honor you and put this on you, right? Revelations 210, be faithful unto death. Words of Jesus here and I will give you the crown of life.
So we know that even if our trial leads to a physical death, and it really could for you, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, even if that’s what it leads to, our perseverance is going to result in the reward of true life. So eternal life hangs in the balance. It comes down to moments of temptation sometimes. Moments like these and they’re decision points that you have to make a choice and you’re at a crossroads and you don’t know which way you’re going to go, but you have to decide to take the Lord with you.
Someone who is under trial, like our scripture says, under trial, they are in a unique situation because having left that they’re never going to be the same. They’re not going to come out on the other side the same person. They’re either going to grow, which God has our growth in mind if he allows us to face that, or it’s going to make us vulnerable to sin. And every trial does bring a set of temptations with it. And I think if you think about life, you can muster up some ideas and you’ve probably heard people say things.
What do they say right? When they fall spiritually or they fall emotionally or financially or sexually? You guys have heard the stories. What do they say? Right. Work. It was so stressful. I was overworked, tired, underappreciated. And then this girl, I mean, she was so kind to me. She was nice. And before I knew it, I just kind of fell into adultery. I don’t know how I got there.
The bills are piling up, overdue and I just didn’t know what we were going to do. And then my friend had this idea. It sounded a little weird and I guess I knew it was technically stealing, but what was I going to do? So I took it.
Or got a test coming up. First week of school. That’s unrealistic. You have an exam this week? Perhaps you do. And yet your buddy is great at studying and he’s so generous. He made a cheat sheet for you. That’s the culture, right? Everyone does it. Just don’t get caught. And so what happens? I’ll cheat just this once, right? We justify it. We justify it. You guys have heard yourself say some version of this in your hearts over something you’re going through, right? We justify it.
Trials, they go one of two ways. So how does things just happen? It doesn’t just happen. And we see from the scripture here that some things are going on, but we have to make a choice and so many things are at stake. James is going to speak to this and for the first thing he’s going to make clear if we have any confusion is God is not a player in our sin.
If we’re confused about anything, we’ll move forward. Verse 13. He says, Let no one, when he is tempted, say, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil. And he himself tempts no one. And so we see here that James wants to make clear that whatever temptation you are going through, it’s not God’s doing. It’s not his fault. If you know the character of your God and you need to. You got to hold on to truth. One John, one five says God is light. In him there is no darkness at all. God’s perfect. He’s perfect.
And sin is the farthest thing from his nature. He has nothing to do with that. It burns up before it even gets to his presence. He is holy and he’s good. And I’m sure at this point you’re thinking, okay, Tyler, that’s a great point, but I would never think that.
I would never blame God for sin. He’s not like that. I know, of course. But the truth is that time and time again, we have a tendency to fail when it comes to owning our sin. We deflect. We push it off on somebody else. It’s not me. It’s not my fault. There’s some other reason. Deflect, deflect, deflect.
And James is saying that sometimes we do put the blame on God. For instance, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this one, but God, you gave me these sexual desires, right? You put them in me. So am I not supposed to act on it? Am I not supposed to just go for it?
Or lord, I’ve been praying for this job. You gave me this job. And I know it’s going to take some pretty shady things to kind of climb up. I might have to become a different person to get to where I want to be professionally. But why would you not want that for me?
I mean, you gave me this job and we say God, right? You gave me or here in the state, you gave me this American freedom. So proud. And I am. But when it comes with a handful of rights in a kingdom that is quite earthly, am I supposed to exercise all of these rights to the neglect of the kingdom’s constitution?
Because in all these examples, the kingdom of God has a really different way at times. There are so many ways that we deflect, but this is not a new problem in any sense. If you go back to Genesis, the first sin we see, the first deflectors, and every sinner is a deflector in our hearts since the beginning. This was the case for whose? Adam and Eve, right? There’s a couple of other characters in the story, but they were the ones that ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was them. And so does Adam own it when he’s confronted? No. What does he say?
He’s like, the woman made me do it. He blames Eve. I mean, more specifically, he actually doesn’t say that. He says, the woman you gave me made me do it. In one breath, he blames her, and then he blames God and he’s like, choose A or B. But I’m not an option. Eve doesn’t even own it. She gets a chance. She has some better ideas, I think, but she’s like, no, it wasn’t me. It was the snake. The snake made me do it. And everyone’s pointing a finger at everyone, but themselves. The snake, it’s his fault. So we deflect and they’ve deflected.
And that’s kind of a good idea. Maybe we’ll talk about that here in a second. Let’s look back at our scripture. But if it’s not God who gets the blame, then maybe you blame it on your personality. I’m just abrasive and rude and you got to deal with it.
It’s just who I am. I mean, the scriptures say something about that. Or maybe it’s your upbringing. There’s a reason I’m traumatized, been through some heavy stuff. And if you only knew, you wouldn’t hold me accountable to be someone different. Or your circumstances, just stress.
We become different people, and we have a lot of reasons that we can blame so many other than ourselves. So you got to recognize that because until you own your sin, this is key. Until you own it and look within, you won’t be motivated to fight it.
I mean, when you look at verse 14, you see it pretty clearly. There’s some insights here, but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Emphasize own desire.
These evil forces, these evil impulses, they swirl inside of us and no one put them there but our sin. No one else gets the credit. And not even Satan gets the credit, right? Pointing the finger at the snake, it’s a good idea. I’ve done that from time to time.
They have to realize, like, sure, he is the tempter. That’s his nickname. That’s his title. He has earned that title. He loves tempting, he’s in that business.
He loves to have the credit if he could get to you first. But so many times he doesn’t even find us. Right? James four, verse seven. James believes in Satan, but he does not include him here. He tells us how we can get Satan to leave us. And so many times Satan hasn’t even approached us. And we’re so quick to deflect that honor to the snake, which he would consider an honor. But it’s not even Satan all the time, right?
If it’s not obvious enough, I said we returned to lures and here we are. This text clearly is using fishing language. A lot of fishermen, no one believes that James was necessarily a fisherman, but yes, he was around a lot of fishermen. And he’s using hook, line and sinker language. When he says lured, it means being dragged away as on a fishing line.
Or when he says entice, it means taken by a bait. Just like little fishies are. That’s what we become. So what bait lures you? I think that’s a great question to camp on.
What bait lures you. I told you that we would give back to lures. But what they are really they’re shiny things that catch our heart’s attention and they have our attention. And maybe it can be anything, but maybe for you it’s lust, maybe for you it’s significance, perhaps it’s anger. Right?
Or maybe it’s greed, but you have to take the time to notice your heart and how it’s getting twisted. What gets its attention? And I do think, to be a Christian and to survive at some point, if you’re going to survive, you’re going to get in touch with the evil inside of you because you’re committed to dealing with it. But you got to get in touch. I think that’s my point here.
You got to get in touch because just one step away from God, we know what we are capable of.
In verse 15, he shows us that mere desire by itself, this is not the sin, okay? So just because there are lures around you, for those that are guilty, please drop the guilt. That’s not sin. Man, I feel if some of us have more lures than others, right? Or maybe some of them are us, are just more in touch.
But desire in itself is not sin. It’s just there. It’s just swirling. It’s just kind of waiting to be quenched. It’s the big red spot on Jupiter.
It’s just bottled up there. But it’s not sin. It’s not sin yet. It’s just desire. No life has been given to it. That’s a distinct change, though. When life gets given, when it crosses that line. Verse 15, then desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it’s fully grown, brings forth death. This is kind of like the life cycle or the death cycle, if you will. There is a time where we’re wrestling with desire, and that’s before conception, when the jury is out, whether or not it’s going to go on to the next stage, right? This is a really unique opportunity here.
Mind you, there’s no life yet for sin. And that’s the point where we should be dealing with it. We shouldn’t be waiting for sin to have life breathed into it. We should be open, we should be honest. We should walk into the light and leave behind our desire before it turns to sin.
Deal with it before it has a life of its own and it does have a life of its own. That’s the nature of sin. But I think, unfortunately, so many times we have this tendency we want to hide and just kind of like cover up our sin and think that it’s really not that bad. I’ve got this. It’s just a small lie.
I’m not even going to have to correct that. It’s not going to grow. Like whatever. It was just one click, right? It was one click for 1 minute.
I saw one image. It’s not so bad, right? It didn’t hurt anybody. What consequence does it have? I don’t know where you’re at in this cycle, but I beg of you today, get open.
Get open. You might not hear that again because you might not have the opportunity or the ears to hear it again, but if you’re far along in this death cycle. Just know there’s a hint of life that your ears are working this morning. Maybe your heart would hear it too. Get open.
Do it. You got to talk to somebody. You got to find a brother. Don’t waste the opportunities. Don’t wait.
Psalm 32, verse three. David says, when I kept silent and he’s talking about his sin, my bones wasted away. They were on a trajectory of decay. I was decaying inside because that is what it feels like. James says sin heads towards death.
So you feel it. It’s a slow creep. But honestly, I want you to search yourself right now and ask, are you in touch with just how deadly your sin is? Or is it just no big deal? Is it still a little bit cute?
Like when you get a little alligator, you’re like, Florida little gators are cute, little kids can hold them.
But you might be telling yourself, this is fine, I got this. No worries, I got this under control. It’s just cute little sin, but like a baby gator. If you keep this in your backpack and bring it to school and show all your friends, you’re thinking, this isn’t going to get bigger at all. It’s not going to get out of control.
I got this. I can handle this. This can be kept small. I got control, right? He’s on a leash.
I see no danger at present. This guy, he has an emotional support alligator, he is the perfect illustration for what I’m talking about. This gator is actually from Orlando. You can look it up. But man, this is insane though.
This is the insanity of holding onto sin and thinking it’s going to stay the way it is. Right. There is no danger at present because sin is deceptive. But it does grow because that’s the nature of sin. And it grows and it grows and it grows ever more dangerous until you realize all at once that you are in the water and this sin is now ready to devour you. It has been waiting patiently and now you’re in a world of trouble. And of course now you are ready to get help. Yeah. I mean, I hope.
But so much of your life is already dead. Your whole life. Maybe your ears are still working today, but that’s how it goes.
Don’t neglect to look down the road with every little sin that you entertain, that you host and you’re so hospitable with. The spirit is speaking. And if we ignore, we will be somewhere we never thought we would be. So the question, are you in touch with just how deadly your sin is? You have to take the time to answer that and meditate on that.
Verse 16. Sin, like I said, it’s deceptive by nature. So he naturally says, do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Right. Sin, the lies that we buy, the lures that we chomp at, right?
There’s so many lies involved in sin. And it’s interesting like you can see his heart it’s oozing with love. My beloved brothers, don’t be deceived. He sees where it leads and he’s already distraught in the way he shows such affection to gently say turn around. I love you and I’m telling you this. Verse twelve if we just retrace for a second there’s so many lies that we could have bought in the whole sin cycle and not overcoming temptation. One would be we buy the lie that the reward isn’t worth enduring for right? That crown of life. Verse 13 we buy the lie that someone else is to blame for our sin we’ve deflected. Verse 14 we buy the lie that some desire within us is worthwhile and it’s worth us being dragged away. Or verse 15 we buy the lie that sin is really not all that bad but he wants us not to be deceived because he knows that truth is so hard to see. So foggy to see especially when we are under trials. We’re not always thinking clearly and there are a million lies that Satan can use and whisper to us. But what might even be the biggest lie of all? I think verse 17 stumbles on that. This is the rest of our text. Every good and perfect gift every perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of Lights who with Him there is no variation or shadow due to change of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.
Right here there’s a dose of truth that is going to help us fight these great lies. So much truth packed in here. Some keys to overcoming. Fighting lies like God’s character isn’t to be trusted or that God doesn’t want to give us good things, or that he’s holding out, right? It also can help us fight the lie that God doesn’t have our best in mind and all those are added lies that can just help us fold when we need to overcome. But in every area of life that we’re tempted to go outside of God’s will to find what we’re looking for when we’re under trial, we have to be reminded of these truths, right?
Look at it here we see that he is the source of every good gift that his gifts are better than any sin, that his character is one that desires to give. He is a giver, not stingy. Also that he is a rock unwavering in his love for us. There’s no variation. He’s steadfast. He loves us and that he’s on our side.
He doesn’t want us to fail. Temptation is not from Him, we know that. And lastly, that he has provided every possible gift of grace for us to stand strong. While our desires and our trials, they’re going to come and go. They’re going to possibly change from season to season, different times of the year. Different years of our lives.
All that has variation, and yet God is consistently giving us what we need. No matter how we change, how our temptations change, God is still the giver and equipper for us so that we can overcome. He loves giving us what we need. He is not holding out on us.
He’s not. And I think that that’s a lie we can buy, that God is holding out. He’s not holding out on a relationship for you. He knows what’s good and what’s best.
And when he’s not holding out sexually for you right, his ways are the best way. He’s not holding out financially. He knows why you don’t have a raise for some reason or another. He’s not. He is a good, good father. Whatever you think, don’t throw that truth away.
He’s delighted to continually give us perfect gifts and perhaps the greatest gift of all in verse 18, James refers to this gift that he chose to give us birth through the word of Truth. There is a cycle that goes from desire all the way to death, right? There is a conception there. But God has given us a way to escape that trajectory and be on a different trajectory, that we would be the first fruits, that he would give birth to us, that we would hear the gospel, the word of truth, the Gospel that is held out in Jesus and all that he’s done.
And we get to escape this procession of death that really is inevitable unless God would break that cycle in our life. And that’s the good and greatest gift. To take away a couple of things, I thought I’d spell that out and maybe give you a point to take a photo or write these questions down. But I think that I would love for you to take these things away.
And what they are, are just questions for you to meditate on with God and questions also to be open about with someone else who’s doing that with God themselves. You guys that way can help each other. And the first one would be what desires are alluring for you. I want you to get open at a temptation level.
And then next, meditate and face your sin. Meditate on really where it’s leading and where it’s going towards. And then lastly, ask yourself how am I being deceived? And what lies am I faced with believing? And am I believing? Or am I holding on to the truth about God that I know?
So let’s go ahead and pray and we’ll sing one last song. Father in Heaven, we’re so grateful. We know that you are good, you are great, and you give perfect gifts. And God temptations will come our way. They’re already in us.
We don’t have to wait. But there are desires that we just pray we would submit them to you. And we would escape what Satan would want, what he would celebrate in our lives. But we know, God, it is so much on us when we fall. And I just pray that we also realize how weak we are, that we realize how much it’s on you when we have the gifts we need to overcome.
So thank you, God, for enabling us to escape such a vicious cycle that leads to death and instead have offered us life. Let us take that and be dragged away onto life. We love you. It’s in Jesus name we pray. Amen.