James 1:2-8 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” NKJV
Let me begin by asking, “How many of you have been tempted?” Now, “How many have been tempted in any area and failed or succumbed to the temptation?” I’m sure everyone has and when that resulted you were probably flooded with guilt or you shrugged it off saying, ‘Well, I’m only human.’
TEMPTATION is something that every human being encounters. It does not respect age, gender, position, or ethnicity. There is nothing we can do to prevent temptation from attempting to rear its head and that head is sometimes quite ugly. IT COMES! Let me offer an illustration that I have used for years about the teenager being left at home alone. The car was in the driveway and the keys laying in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Temptation! The young man said, “Dad, while you were away I came very close to breaking my promise to you that I would not drive the car. You left the keys on the kitchen counter and I even carried them in my pocket for 3 days fighting temptation.” The father responded, “Son, there is nothing like temptation to show you what you will do if given the opportunity.” TEMPTATION can be viewed from several perspectives and we usually view it from only one, the negative.
TEMPTATION from the devil’s perspective is an opportunity to defeat the purpose of God. Truthfully, he can only succeed in tempting us in those areas we have something in common with him. In John 14:30, Jesus told the disciples that the devil was coming but he had no claim on Jesus. Jesus told them that there was nothing in Him that belongs to the devil and therefore the devil had no power over Jesus.
TEMPTATION from man’s perspective is a severe test and an attempt to destroy faith and commitment. Man views it as a BAD THING! Man sees temptation only in the light of it pulling and tugging at his own evil thoughts and wishes. James 1:13-15 declares, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”
TEMPTATION from God’s perspective is that it can be and often is a valuable and vital service in the lives of men. It shows three things about us: what we are, where we stand, and what we will be in the future. TEMPTATION is a factor in both the psychological and spiritual growth process that every human being must go through ‘IF’ they are to become mature individuals capable of living a full, meaningful and victorious life. In that light, TEMPTATION’s real purpose is ALWAYS to trigger a choice and provoke a definitive stand or action! Consider the illustration of the teenager and the car keys again if you will.
The keys presented a temptation that forced him to make a very difficult but vital decision. He had to obey or disobey. To disobey would be to commit an act of irresponsibility that would make it easier to do similar things in the future. To obey would help create a pattern for mature and wise decisions in the future and make it easier to resist temptation and produce victory and liberty. TEMPTATION could be called a dividing line between innocence and awareness. Temptations come and ALWAYS present a lesson to be learned. Our choices in temptation clearly demonstrate whether the lesson has been learned or must be repeated, “The Wilderness Principle.” How many times did Israel take another lap around the mountain?
For example, we teach children not to cross the street alone but temptation comes into play the moment the child has the opportunity to disobey. There is no one around to see, the street beckons and promises intriguing adventure. The response to temptation will determine if the child can be trusted to play near the street or if more supervision and training are required. Thus, how we face temptation affects every area of our personal life.
May the Lord help us to realize and learn the lessons rather than becoming stuck in an almost perpetual process of repeating or “making laps around the mountain.” God bless you richly as you face today with confidence and boldness in Jesus!