Series: For edification
Message – Understanding Temptations & Trials Pt. 1
Understanding Temptation and Trials
Turn to James 1 where we were last week
So last week we took a look at Temptation, Trials & Testing – describing them as things which test or prove us – our hearts and our trust in God.
We determined that…
- We cannot be tempted beyond our ability to trust & that no temptation – no type or amount of trials is unique to you – 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
- Temptation and trials are an attempt to pull you away from something which is valuable – from a revelation of God to promote you.
- So on the other hand, when God tests us it is in order to promote us – into Christ’s likeness.
- We determined that if we will continue in faith – without wavering – it will work patience in us and that the fruit of faith with patience – is Christ in you!
- and that such is the reason we are to approach ALL tempting, trials and testing the same way – with TRUST and JOY! Knowing the righteous fruit of -Christ in us is the ultimate outcome.
I also explained to you that THERE ARE TIMES – like in this case here in this chapter – when the words temptation and trials are the exact same Greek word. This can be confusing, but in the end – it really does not matter which it is – they all work the same thing in us – IF we will continue steadfast in faith.
Lastly, we read James 1:12 which told us that if we endure temptation or trials without falling – we will receive the crown of life.
We determined that the “crown” was not a literal one correct? What did it symbolize?
Right! Honored with Knowing Him more!
This makes practical sense on more than one level.
1st – Because EVERYTHING in the Christian life is relational to it’s core. The chief purpose of man is to know God, honor Him and enjoy Him forever!
2ndly – We know of a spiritual principle revealed in scripture of sowing and reaping – right? This “crown of Life” reward falls into that category.
Do you remember the parable of the 10 minas, where Jesus in illustrating the honor bestowed upon those who are faithful stewards in this life over what He committed to their charge? He said they will receive more DUE TO THEIR FAITHFULNESS.
In Luke 19:16-17, “(16) The first came forward and said, ‘Master, your mina has earned 10 more minas.’ (17) “‘Well done, good slave!’ he told him. ‘Because you have been faithful in a very small matter, have authority over 10 towns.’”
The same general principle is mentioned in Luke 16:10 if you want to look it up later.
Now – knowing nothing about our faith requires us to check our brain at the door – it is only logical to assume that the reward we receive (namely LIFE) is somehow connected to what this person was faithful over during temptation or trials. You think?
I mean, if the Bible teaches that the punishment meets the crime – shouldn’t we expect that the rewards do the same?
Those who overcome are being invited into knowing Christ more – becoming more intimately acquainted with Him and therefore able to become more LIKE Him in the process.
Now that is our launching point this week.
Remember that we said – you cannot be tempted away from something you are not near! OR you cannot be drawn out of a room you are not IN.
So – if temptation is an attempt to cause your faith to fail – whatever the focus of the temptation or trials are should be our focus as well!
Remember, EVERYTHING is about God – NOT YOU! So decide from the onset to not make that HUGE theological misstep – it will lead you into error every time.
Think of it like this – If an evil man wants to make a good man look bad, he will often attempt to smear the image of his children which reflects back upon him! This is precisely what temptation and trials are all about. It is a defaming of God through His children!
So lets look at a classic example of how and why temptation and trials comes by turning to Mark 4 (it’s found in other gospels but I like Mark best 🙂 )
Mark 4:14-19, HCSB “(14) The sower sows the word. (15) These are the ones along the path where the word is sown: when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word sown in them. (16) And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: when they hear the word, immediately they receive it with joy. (17) But they have no root in themselves; they are short-lived. When affliction or persecution comes because of the word, they immediately stumble. (18) Others are sown among thorns; these are the ones who hear the word, (19) but the worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”
Ah now, see you thought I’d left our previous teachings in the dust, but I’m actually still talking about the same thing! Bearing Fruit!
What are some other Biblical expressions for “bearing fruit”. (partakers of the divine nature)
- Christ in you
- Growing up into the Head
- Walking in the Light
- Walking in and by faith
- Partakers of the Divine Nature
So, let’s run with this last expression and see the connection between temptation (trials), the WORD being sown in the heart and the result of maturity and knowing Christ more.
2Peter 1:3-4, “(3) For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (4) By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”
Also, Hebrews 10:35-39,
“(35) Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. (36) For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: (37) “FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY. (38) NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.” (39) But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
This passage in James 1:21,
“Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.”
1Peter 1:3-9, “(3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, (5) who are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to be distressed by various trials (7) so that the genuineness of your faith–more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (8) You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, (9) because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
So let’s turn back to James 1 starting where we left off in verse 12…
James 1:13-27, “(12) Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (13) No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”
Now, if you do not have a question for me right now – you weren’t paying attention last week.
I told you, that technically both Satan AND God tempt us – only God does not tempt us with evil.
Let me explain – because scripturally I am not contradicting this passage. Remember the word tempt and trial in this chapter are the same Greek words (sometimes the noun or the verb version of the word – but the same word nonetheless).
This passage also says, God cannot be tempted by evil correct? That is NOT to say that God cannot be tempted.
Let’s look at Hebrews 3:8&9, “(8) DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS IN THE REBELLION, IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, (9) WHERE YOUR FATHERS TEMPTED ME, TRIED ME, AND SAW MY WORKS FORTY YEARS.”
The word “tempted me” here is this SAME word as used in James.
So is this an example of scriptural inconsistency? Get serious – of course not!
God was not being personally tempted in the sense of Him was enticed towards evil – rather He was BEING tested BY the Israelites – His faithfulness being poked at and proven over and over (which ticked Him off by the way – the passage says so).
Now, God DID get angry with that generation – but it was not a reaction to their testing per-se, but their unbelief which is what that passage explains (study it later for yourself).
Also, this reveals something about Christ – for while He has always been God – He TOOK ON humanity as well and bore our weaknesses – not just on the cross but in His being made like one of us. In His humanity Christ was able for the first time to be tempted by evil! We see examples of this in scripture – most notably the 40 days in the wilderness!
Also, we know God tries us, proves us & tests us…
“A crucible is for silver and a smelter for gold, but the LORD is a tester of hearts.” says Prov. 17:3.
Deut 8:2, “(2) Remember that the LORD your God led you on the entire journey these 40 years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands.”
But it was NOT with EVIL that He tested or tempted them which is the meaning of this passage in verse 13. Let no man say when he is tempted (by evil) “I have been tempted by God (towards evil)” BECAUSE God cannot be tempted BY EVIL – neither does He Tempt (towards evil) any man…” Context is KING!
Even in this case in Deut. 8, if you read on to verses 3-7 you’d see…
“(3) He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (4) Your clothing did not wear out, and your feet did not swell these 40 years. (5) Keep in mind that the LORD your God has been disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. (6) So keep the commands of the LORD your God by walking in His ways and fearing Him. (7) For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills;”
…and so are we, being led into a good land – only our “good land” is not physical – it is Christ in us!
Romans 8 says that this is the Hope we were saved in!
Hebrews 8: 6 says, “But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.” and Peter describes “the Land” promised to us in this New Covenant in Christ’s blood in 2Peter 1:3-8,
“(1) For His divine power has given us everything required for life (knowing God in intimacy) and godliness (god-like-ness), through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (4) By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”
Do you see – our promised land is Christ in us and it is realized by overcoming temptation and trials- which Peter here calls escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires.”
You see, temptation and trials are all about desire (which is were we are going with this NEXT week).
But Peter goes on to show the connection faith – patience and fruit-bearing have by saying…
“(5) For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, (6) knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, (7) godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (8) For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What did we determine temptation and trials were after? Removing the seed of the Word which reveals Christ to us – BECAUSE it will bear the fruit of His likeness within IF we will continue in faith!
SO Now, with all that under our belts, let’s look back to our passage in verse 13…
(13) No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”
So does that make sense now?
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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