Joey Sparks
16Jul/120

2 Keys to Resist Temptation (James 1:14-15)

Humanity shares several "common lots." All human beings require food and water for physical nourishment. Every person desires love, affection, and companionship for emotional health. Everyone suffers pain, disappointment, and heartache.

Spiritually, all mankind faces--and gives in to--temptation.

James says, "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed."

Paul says in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

We face plenty of uncertainties in life, but we are certain to face temptation and sin.

Temptation's certainty is sobering. And knowing we are drawn away from within our own hearts, much like a fish is lured by its belly toward a dangling worm, can be discouraging as well. But these revelations must not drive us to guilt. Harboring guilt for being human can be dangerous. We can attempt to ease the pain through ungodly, selfish, or fleshly pursuits.

Young Smallmouth Bass (by nklatt Flickr CC by, nc, sa)

Jesus, the Son of God, was tempted while on earth, and yet never sinned (Heb. 4:15). While sin is born from temptation, temptation is not sinful. When Satan tempted Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11, he used the very things Jesus wanted and was sent to earth to accomplish. Satan tempted Jesus to do good things in ways contrary to God's ways.

We also cannot allow our missteps into sin to fuel our temptations. Though we can never be perfect, we must be aware that sin creates new temptations more powerful and destructive than we anticipate. For example, resisting the temptation to drink after 20 years of alcoholism is more difficult than resisting the first drink. If we feed temptations with the flesh, they grow into gigantic beasts.

Reality. Knowing sin's deceptive and deadly power helps us develop healthy fears of temptation. Though we all face it, we must never grow comfortable with it nor welcome it. The price for playing with temptation is steep. James follows verse 14 with this, "Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (1:15).

This harmonizes with Paul's words in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Water, carbon monoxide, and other natural compounds are abundant on earth. But we must always respect their power to destroy humanity. Temptation is no different.

Replacement. Knowing that temptation results from our own desires can be discouraging if we're not careful. We must be intentional to continually replace our wants with God's desires. When the two compete, we must always submit to God's will.

But over time, we can also develop the heart and attitude that above all longs for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. The more we try to be like God from the inside out, the less power we give to our human desires and tendencies.

The Psalmist once said, "With my whole heart I have sought you; Oh, let me not wander from your commandments! Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Ps. 119:10-11).

The truth about temptation may be discouraging at the surface. But a complete appreciation for God's forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:7) and continual providence in the face of temptation (Jas. 4:7) gives us every motivation and all strength to resist.

31Aug/060

03.19.06 Bulletin Article — Can We Know We Are Saved?

One of the most nagging questions we often ask ourselves is, “Can we know we are saved?” Although the question is sometimes rooted in humility before a perfect God, sometimes we allow our doubts to cause us to ask this question. The apostle John wrote the letter we know as 1 John to first-century Christians who needed this very question answered.

Notice John’s words in 1 John 5:13, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” False teachers were abounding in the first century and were trying to get early Christians to deny the Sonship of Jesus and other crucial truths. Here, John tells them they can know they have eternal life. He tells them that they can know this because of the things he was writing to them. Let’s notice some of these things John wrote to them so that they can encourage us as well:

· God is light. “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5).
· God is faithful to forgive our sins. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
· Jesus is our atoning sacrifice. “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).
· God knows our hearts. “By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).
· God is love. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).
· Jesus is the Son of God; He gives eternal life. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

We can have confidence and know we are saved because of what God has done. He has taken care of the problem of sin when we could not. God is consistent and reliable; Jesus has paid the price for our sin.

Although God has done everything to give us eternal salvation, we still must be obedient to His will in order to receive it. Notice some of the other words of John in this letter:

· “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
· “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments...whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:3, 6).
· “Beloved, love one another...if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:7, 11).
· “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2-3).
· “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

May we have the confidence that comes from God and obedience to Him.