Sunday, February 26, 2012

40 Days with James ~ Day 5 ~ Temptation

Day 5 ~ Temptation

James 1:12-16 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. When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers.

"The devil made me do it!" We are often prepared with such excuses when we find ourselves sinning. We are a people all to ready to play the victim card when we are caught up in sins and trials. Some go so far as to blame God for temptations they face, justifying their actions with foolish thoughts like, "Well, if God didn't want me to commit this sin, He wouldn't have allowed the opportunity to arise." But James is very clear to us today. Sin comes from the inside of us. It is our fault. Our own "evil desires" are all too ready to answer the sweet, deceptive call of temptation.

Temptations are trials that sinners will inevitably face. Christian sinners will especially be attacked. Though we fight and struggle, we will find ourselves giving in to the trials that seek to draw us away from Christ. As we have seen, the church to which James is writing is being tempted to abandon Jesus so as to avoid persecution. Though our physical lives may not be at stake when we are tempted, every temptation is an enticement of Satan to drag us away from our Savior. How can we hope to endure difficult trials and receive the crown of life when we find ourselves so weak?

Psalm 1 says that one whose delight is in God's Word is blessed. "He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leave does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1:3). In the midst of the temptations that scorch us like the desert sun, Christ's Word comes as refreshing water which refreshes us and strengthens us to face the trials in our lives. It is the Word which says Jesus has endured the trial of the cross to forgive our sinful weakness, or as James calls it, our evil desires. It is the Word that tells us that God has raised Jesus from the dead and "crowned" Him with authority over all of creation, and He rules over you in love and mercy. To cease from hearing this Word is to venture into the desert of temptation without water. But to regularly hear this Word is to plant yourself next to life giving streams and receive refreshing from the One who has conquered your temptations.

Confession: O Gracious God, who blesses parched sinners with the refreshing water of your gospel, forgive me, for I have given into temptation. I have prayed that you would not lead me into temptation, and yet I confess to you that I have put myself in places that appeal to my evil desires. For the sake of your Son's blood, which was shed to grant me victory over Satan and his deceptions, give me perseverance in the face of trials so that I will receive the gracious crown you promise your people. AMEN.

Challenge: Today's challenge will be one that leads to repentance. Take the 10 commandments and read through them. Write down which of these you are most tempted to break. Pray that the Lord would give you forgiveness for your sins and seek ideas in how you can fight against this sin. (A Small Catechism will prove helpful in this challenge)

Pastor Bob

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