Desire and Deception
James 1:12-20 (Pastor Brian)
12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
James was the half-brother of Jesus, BUT considers himself a “bond servant” of Christ. He doesn’t boast in his relationship with Jesus except as a servant. He’s writing here to the 12 tribes scattered abroad (Jews, mostly) – in the “diaspora” – the spreading of the Jews into different parts of the world.
He is giving very practical advice and counsel. He is concerned about them living out their faith and being fruitful in ministry and life. He knows that they will have trials and suffering. James 1:2? “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds…”
Perseverance = going on to the end.
“The testing of your faith develops perseverance” Testing = making stronger, NOT trying to break. For example, steel: must be tested to strengthen it.
This is the kind of “testing” that God used to test Abraham. “Go up this mountain and sacrifice your son Isaac to me” (he was over 100 years old, this was his only son, through this son the Promise was to be fulfilled) – so why do it? The testing of his faith showed his heart to God – he knew that God would STILL fulfill that Promise to him – even if he had to raise Isaac from the dead again (which, in a sense, he did – because in his mind, Isaac was already dead).
Eagles also go through “testing”. When eaglets are “of age”the mother starts tearing up the nest and THROWS the eaglet out. The eagle struggles to fly, and finds that HE CAN! He didn’t know that before. But what would happen if he couldn’t fly? The mother swoops under the baby to catch it if it can’t really fly. Then, they will repeat the “test” again later.
The Queen of Sheba came to Solomon to “test” him with many questions. She came away convinced that all she heard about him was true.
God didn’t rid the land (the Promised Land) of its enemies before sending the Israelites there. He sent them to LEARN, to fail and then later succeed.
You start with the basics in school and build upon that.
Count these “tests” as fully joy – and allow perseverance to have its full work in you so that you may be complete and mature (not perfect).
Phil 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will complete it…”
What of these trials we face?
They are difficult. Trying. James says, “Ask God for WISDOM without ‘casting in your teeth’ (without reproach).” God doesn’t give a gift spitefully, nor to manipulate. He GIVES because he LOVES.
In the trial, ask “What can I learn from THIS experience?”
Maybe “try again” go around again, fail, fail, fail, succeed. God is looking for our reactions in these kinds of circumstances.
Now, this wisdom that James mentions is not some kind of abstract, philosophical, heady, theoretical wisdom – it’s practical LIFE wisdom.
“This is what you are to do to profit and grow in your trials and lives – ask in FAITH, remember how God has been faithful to his promises in the past, and trust that he will remain true to them in the future.” Doubt your doubts, and believe your beliefs.
Charles Spurgeon : “Faith comes…”
Romans “Faith comes from hearing…” (the whole verse) – but Spurgeon emphasizes “faith COMES” – if you don’t have it now, meditate (mutter), read, memorize, pray, proclaim God’s Word.
The Muslims proclaim their Quran multiple times per day – how much more should we also proclaim the Word of God!
We must hide his Word in our hearts, treasure it, and proclaim it.
What should we ask for? Not what you might think.
v. 9 “The humble man ought to take pride in his high situation – rejoice!” “But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position.”- He will pass away like the flowers. Imagine the fresh spouts in spring, scorched by the heat of summer.
Likewise, anyone’s life may be extinguished in an instant – you never know. Jesus also told this kind of story: “There was a rich man with an overflowing harvest. He decided to rip down his barns and build new ones to house it all. He would eat, drink, and be merry. Yet, his life was demanded of him that night.”
King Solomon (very rich) said in Ecclesiastes: “I hated all that I had and accumulated because I knew that I would not be able to enjoy it – but the one who came after me would get it.” Even Solomon fell from his high position at the end of his life when he turned from God.
In addition to maturity and perseverance, God wants to APPROVE of us.
There is a very detailed process for a politician to become a Cabinet member – they want to be sure there are no “skeletons in the closet” that would shame the government or create a scandal. However, where humans are concerned, things are often overlooked. But where God is concerned, things are NOT overlooked.
The Crown of Life: v. 12 “Blessed is the man who perseveres under temptation….”
- 1 Thessalonians “What is our joy, our crown, in Jesus? Is it not you – indeed, you are our crown of joy.” (The Crown of Joy – those who lead people to Christ and disciple them)
- 2 Timothy 4:8 (The Crown of Righteousness) – given to the Christians who expected the Lord to come back and lived with that “Now there is in store for me the Crown of Righteousness…to all who loved his appearing.” (Looking forward to his return?)
- Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) – given to those who shepherd the church and are responsible for the flock “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory, which will never fade away.”
- James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because when he has stood test, he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to him.”
- God allows some kind
- Some comes from within (our sinful nature)
Temptation is common in life (speed, lie, call in sick, cheat, steal, etc, etc) – everywhere we turn, we face it.
The Jews had reference to the 2 natures of man: good nature, evil nature. Paul also knew this “When I want to do good, there is evil there will me, fighting against the good I want to do… Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Christ is in him, giving him the victory.
Illustration of temptation:
- Temptation comes – a begrudging thought. We play around with it a little bit – then go back.
- We get a lustful thought – start doing it. “Oh, I shouldn’t be doing this” and go back.
Don’t let temptation go across the threshold of your mind. – Oswald Chambers
Let’s go into that more next week. Now, let’s prepare our hearts for the Lord’s supper.
What have we done throughout the week that is displeasing to the Lord? Confess those – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to cleanse us from our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Lord, forgive us our sins, and purify our hearts. In Jesus name.