How To Resist the Pull of Temptation (Being Dragged!) The James Series

Last week, we looked at the entire first chapter of James and how James identified 8 characteristics that are developed by enduring trials.  These characteristics are necessary in the life of every believer.  One, in particular, is of the utmost importance. When we endure trials, with the right mindset, we become people who endure temptation.   

James 1:13-16 says  When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  

Remember, God tempts no one! He is for you.  He does not want you to fall or fail.  So temptation does not come from God.  

We often blame the devil. And let me tell you, we have a real enemy whose only objectives are to steal, kill, and to destroy.  But when we read this passage closely, the devil is not the immediate culprit here (oh, but he is definitely lurking behind the scenes). 

When we are tempted, we are dragged (some translations say drawn, or lured) away. We are dragged away from the course we are on to a broad way that only leads to destruction.  What’s dragging us away? Our own evil desires! Whoa. Now take a moment and let that sink in. We quickly blame things on the outside, but we are dragged away by temptations that come from the inside of us.  

Now, before you beat yourself up, don’t.  Everyone faces temptations.  It is what you do when tempted that makes all the difference. The old hymn Yield Not to Temptation says “yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin.”  The temptation is not the sinful part. Temptation leads to desire, and desire leads to sin.  It’s when we give in to ungodly desires that sin is born. Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Sin leads to one place and one place only—death.  

Temptation > Desire > Sin > Death 

BUT THERE IS HOPE!  

Be Honest. We do not have to yield to ungodly desires! We can overcome the desires that lead to sin.  But the first step is to be honest about them. It’s okay! Be honest with yourself. The Holy Spirit will reveal to you those desires that you should not have. The sweet conviction of the Holy Spirit will let you know when you’re being dragged in the wrong direction. Then be honest with God. He is on your side. He wants nothing but victory for you!! Go ahead. Tell Him.  He already knows and still loves you greatly.    

Ask for Help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help.  God will help you resist the enemy and all ungodly desires you may have. In prayer, be real and be authentic, this is the only way to be with God. Don’t be ashamed to ask others for help, too. Somebody has been though what you have been through—successfully and unsuccessfully. Both experiences can help you in your challenges. **Allow the Lord to lead you to someone whom you can trust.  

Make Changes. Make changes as necessary. The Holy Spirit will lead you to make changes in your life. Maybe it’s what you watch, maybe it’s what you read, maybe it’s certain associations. Whatever it is, be willing to make those changes immediately.  

Remember Past Victories. Remember your past victories and let them propel you forward.  When you overcome in one challenge, it will lead to more and greater victories.  Another line in that same hymn says, “each victory will help you, some others to win.”  When you win, remember how God helped you come through and know that He will be with you through every trial—He will never leave you.  

Dear friends, Be sober and be diligent, temptation will come.  When ungodly desires attempt to drag you, give those desires to the Lord. He can handle whatever you submit to Him.  Ask the Lord for help!  Ask others for help, as the Lord leads.  When the Lord leads you to make changes, make them.  Praise God for each victory and remember them! They will become a collection of triumphs that will inspire you to keep believing.  

As the chorus of that same beautiful hymn says,  “Ask the Savior to help you, comfort, strengthen, and keep you.  He is willing to help you.  He will carry you through.”

What advice can you give someone who may be struggling with temptation?  

8 Characteristics that Develop by Enduring Trials (The James Series)

0AD0AE01-9D2D-48D1-9638-CECC03CA5B51This is the first entry as I write through the book of James.  

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  James 1:2-4

If you’ve spent anytime around church or the Bible, you’ve probably heard this phrase—“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials . . .” This advice from James can seem challenging, especially when you feel like you have trials on every side, or when you are laden with the severity of those trials.  Still James admonishes the readers to count it all joy when you experience trials—don’t run from them, but find joy in them. Why, James?  How can we find joy in the midst of trials?

The reason for joy is because, every trial comes with purpose.  The purpose of trials in our lives is to mold us and shape us; to reveal areas of weakness and opportunities for growth.  This is why James admonished the early Christian community to embrace trials with joy. No, we aren’t joyful about going through, but we should respond joyfully because every trial has a heavenly purpose–to move us closer to our Savior as we are being conformed to His image.

James outlines eight characteristics in his first chapter, which are developed when we patiently endure trials.  These are all “being” traits and not “doing” traits, indicating what we should become.

When we patiently endure testing and trials, we become:

  1. People who, through patience and endurance, grow and mature into worthy vessels. (James 1:4)

James encourages us to let patience have its perfect work.  When you are patient as you endure these trials, your faith will bloom under pressure and you will be equipped, mature, complete, and lacking in nothing.

  1. People filled with the wisdom of God. (James 1:5)

The key to being filled with wisdom is not being chock-full of knowledge and employing study aids until you know what you need to know.  The key is to ask God for wisdom, because He gives it freely and fully.  He generously gives you the wisdom you need for your journey.

  1. People who ask in faith without doubting. (James 1:6-8)

Don’t doubt God’s willingness to give you everything you need!  Doubt comes in when you are moved by more than one opinion.  Instead of trusting God alone, we lean on others and even on ourselves, which creates instability.  This type of doubter should not expect to receive anything from God.

  1. People who can endure in times of temptation. (James 1:12-16)

Everyone faces temptations.  Know that God is not tempting you! Temptations come when we are lured by our lustful desires.  YOU CAN OVERCOME TEMPTATION! And when you do, you will receive the crown of life. However, if you yield to temptation, sin is produced and sin ultimately leads to death.

  1. People who show God’s message of truth to the world. (James 1:17-18)

James reminds his readers that every good and perfect gift is from God.  And just as God is consistent, we must be consistent, because this group of listeners (the early Christian believers) were the first to share God’s message of truth and love to the rest of the world. WE are now apart of this group, sharing this mission.  We have been given good gifts that should be used to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

  1. People who listen and respond well. (James 1:19-21)

James gives us practical advice.  Be quick to hear!  Take time—make time—to listen. This way, we will respond instead of react.  Be slow to speak! Give yourselves time to respond reasonably and in a godly manner.  Be slow to respond in anger.  It’s okay to be angry, but reacting in anger is dangerous, because human anger will never produce God’s righteousness.

  1. People who practically apply God’s Word, not just hear it. (James 1:22-25)

God’s people “do” the Word.  Don’t be tricked into thinking that hearing the Word is enough.  Read, understand, and apply what you’ve received.  When we receive instruction through the Word, move on to application.  As we look into the Word, God’s perfect truth, we strive to live it.  As we do, we will be blessed in all that we do.

  1. People moved to pure religion, living compassionate and clean lives. (James 1:26-27)

James gives three signs of maturity in a believer. First is the ability to “bridle” our tongues. (He emphasizes this point in chapter 3 and I will write about that soon.) The second thing James points out is valuing and showing compassion towards those who are marginalized or forgotten in society.  Jesus gave us so many examples of this. Not just giving to them or meeting their immediate needs, but actually appreciating them as fellow image bearers of God.  Third, we must keep ourselves from being polluted by worldliness.  Do not just say you live for God, but truly live full out, in obedience to God.

The first chapter of James challenges us to embrace trials in an unexpected way, with joy. When our faith is tested by trials we should respond with patience and endurance. The result will be a faith that stands tall and shines with the character of God.   So when trials come, and they will come, seize the opportunity to grow and become more like Jesus.  That is a reason for joy!