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?