TEXT: James 1:12-16
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Stepping Out of the Straight and Narrow Way and Getting Into Trouble, Part 3 (Pilgrim’s Progress According to the Bible #40)
Temptation, sin, and the consequences of sin are a recurring theme in life. Just looking back over the past few weeks, how many instances can you recall that have been brought to light in the media because of sins that somebody committed and thought they got away with? The FIFA corruption scandal, the former U.S. house speaker, Dennis Hastert scandal, the Josh Duggar scandal, just to name a few. All of these situations came about because of temptation that led to sin and that is now leading to consequences or death – death to a cushy job, death to a reputation of integrity, or death to a popular show.
In our message last week, we talked about these consequences. The Bible says that “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust [his fleshly desires], and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Sin is viewed as an active force; once it is released in your life, it will wreak havoc especially if it is not confessed and dealt with swiftly. We see the effects of sin being played out in our own lives and in the world around us on a daily basis. If you are a Christian, continued sin will eventually cause you to stray from the straight and narrow path and backslide in your faith. Thank God that by His mercy and grace we cannot lose our salvation. However, we will be sorely ineffective in our Christian walk, and that is a major reason why we ought to resist giving in to the lust of the flesh.
The story is told of the Greek hero Ulysses as he was sailing home with his soldiers from a war. Their ship had to sail by an island which had a treacherous stretch of rocky coastline. On the island lived beautiful creatures known as sirens. They sang a seductive, enticing melody that enraptured sailors’ hearts as they passed by and caused them to want to reach the source of the song so badly that they would drive their ships on the rocks and die. In order to get past this temptation, Ulysses had his men to put wax in their ears so they would not hear the sirens’ song and he himself was tied to the mast to prevent himself from acting on the urge to turn the ship toward the dangerous shoreline. In this way, Ulysses and his men survived a trap by which many other sailors had perished.
The temptations we face are like the sirens on that island. Temptation has a beautiful, irresistible melody, but once we act on it, we find out that it is truly a song of death and destruction. James, tells us, however, that we do not have to give in to temptation. In fact, he gives us three incentives to remain on the straight and narrow way, and that is what we are going to talk about today. Verse 12 of our passage states, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” As we have already learned, the word temptation can mean either a trial, that is a test coming from the Lord, or an enticement to sin. Either way, the man who endures his temptation, the man who perseveres through it, is “blessed.”
God blesses obedience, and he does not bless disobedience. It is as simple as that. When the devil, the world, and your fleshly desires begin to tug at your heart and try to influence you to sin against the Lord, one way to combat that is to think of what you have to lose. Think of the ways in which the Lord has blessed you, and remind yourself that God can take away your blessings if you sin against Him. He did it to Adam and Eve, He did it to Samson, He did it to Saul, He did it to David, and He did it to the entire nation of Israel. You are not an exception. If you persist in sin, God may choose to take away the rest of your days on earth. Ask Ananias and Sapphira. They grieved the Holy Spirit and refused to come clean about it, and they both died in the church within hours of each other.
Instead of putting your life at risk by disobeying God, consider what you have to gain. Our text says that the man or woman who endures temptation “shall receive the crown of life…” This term comes from the Greek word “ge-nom-e-nos” from which we get our term “genome” and other related words having to do with human DNA. Curtis Vaughan writes, “The life which is promised is probably life here and now, life in its fullness, life in its completeness.” It is not necessarily eternal life because you are guaranteed eternal life by accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you were to die physically right now, you would live eternally with God in Heaven as long as you are saved. This blessing of the crown of life reminds us of Jesus’ statement that He came to earth that we might “have life and have it more abundantly,” to have it to the full. A few verses earlier, James states that if we are ‘steadfast’ — that is, if we are faithful in resisting temptation and enduring trials — we will “be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
When faced with temptation, consider this question: Do you want life or death? The blessing of God or the chastisement of God? God spoke these words to the children of Israel: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day.” God sets that same choice before each of us every day: blessings if we obey and curses if we disobey — the crown of life or the death conceived by sin.
How can we strive to make the choice to do right all of the time? Speaking of this crown of life, James calls it a reward “which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” It is not just strict obedience that the Lord wants, but genuine love in our hearts for Him. In fact, obedience to the Lord is much easier if you love the Lord. You are far more apt to eagerly do what your boss asks of you if you love your boss as a person. It is the same way with Christ. He said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ‘If you love me, say no to temptation.’ It is one thing to say no to temptation in order to avoid God’s chastisement, but it is another thing to say no because your motive is love for the Lord. And those who love the Lord are promised a crown of life as a reward for their obedience.
In closing, remember that you are not alone in your struggle with temptation and sin. The Bible says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.” The news cycle constantly reminds us of this fact and it becomes easy to concur with David’s exclamation, “Oh, how the mighty have fallen!” You are not alone; you are not the only one. However, as we have seen today, the Christian has a threefold incentive to say “no” to temptation.
(1) We say no to temptation so that we will not lose the blessings of God on our life. (2) We say no to temptation so that we can receive the “crown of life” and live a life of fulfillment and peace on earth. (3) Ultimately, we say no to temptation because we love God who first loved us and gave himself for us. Please keep these things in mind as you wrestle with the world, the flesh, and the devil this week and in the days beyond.
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If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to share with you briefly how you can be saved from your sins and be guaranteed a home in Heaven with God today.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! Congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door.” Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University School of Divinity. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.