James began his letter by telling us to count it all joy when we face trials. When we endure or persevere through trials it develops patience in us and when we let patience have its perfect work in us we won’t lack anything. Many times we can look at other people’s circumstances and compare what we’re going through to them. That can either encourage or discourage us. When we see people with bigger problems,we tend to count our blessings and when someone gets promoted over us, well, we might question why they got a promotion and we didn’t. James reminds us that we all have equal footing in Christ. He reminds the brother of humble circumstances that he has riches in Christ. He also reminds the rich, you can’t take it with you.
Trials put us all on equal footing. Our trials may come in different packages but no amount of money can stop difficulty. It may be able to stop certain difficulties but it also invites others. Whether we have adequate means, less means, or an abundance we do well to remember the words of the teacher in the book of Ecclesiastes. In the day of prosperity rejoice, but in times of adversity consider that both come from God so that we will understand that we don’t know what comes after us. Trials produce endurance and patience in us. No matter what we go through we can ultimately rejoice because we know they have a purpose.
Trials and temptations are not the same. While they are both common, temptation only has one source, the enemy. Yet even in temptation that originates from the enemy, we have a promise that God has made a way of escape. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NKJV “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. 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.”
Part of the way of escape is the fact that James tells us where and how temptation originates. When we understand how temptation starts we will recognize how to overcome it. James 1:12-15 NKJV “ 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 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. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
We have a promise that when we endure temptation we will receive the crown of life. Enduring isn’t easy it takes work, that’s why Paul said he disciplined his body and brought it under subjection. Romans chapters six through eight deal extensively with the differences between yielding to the flesh and the spirit.
Now, James makes clear that God does not tempt any man, but that temptation comes from our own desires. The very first temptation recorded in Scripture, Genesis 3:6, says that when Eve saw that the tree was good for food, and pleasant looking and able to make her wise, she ate the fruit. The problem arose when Adam didn’t stop her and even participated with her. Eve let her desire override what she knew God said. When she focused on her desires, the wisdom the enemy enticed her with lured her in. That’s what James says, we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed. What happens next? James says when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. How does our desire conceive, we think about it.
The more you think about something the more you are apt to do it. What does Genesis say, when she saw that it was good, pleasant, desirable, then she took and ate. All those descriptions show that she was thinking about it, her desire was conceived in her. When a thought comes that does not line up with the Word of God, we cast it down, we put it out of our mind.
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true, just, and pure, whatever is worthy of praise, we should think about those things. Like Paul we need to discipline ourselves. Temptation isn’t sin, the temptation brings about the sin if we don’t stop it. How do we stop it? When we catch ourselves thinking about something that doesn’t line up with Philippians 4:8, we do 2 Corinthians 10:5. Mark those verses in your Bible. They are two weapons to stop temptation in its tracks. I think we have fallen into a trap where temptation is concerned, we think because the temptation presents itself, that it’s over, we have to give in. No, temptation is the starting point and that’s where we end it. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, He responded with Scripture. We need to discipline ourselves with the Scripture, we need to have them at the ready.
If fear comes, that’s a temptation not to trust God. Respond with 2 Timothy :7, God hasn’t given me a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind. Memorize Psalm 91. If you struggle with lusting after women or watching pornography, discipline your body and renew your mind. Commit yourself to the Lord like Hebrews 1:1-2 says. Memorize Job 31:1-2, 12 in the Amplified Classic Bible, “I DICTATED a covenant (an agreement) to my eyes; how then could I look [lustfully] upon a girl? For what portion should I have from God above [if I were lewd], and what heritage from the Almighty on high? For [uncontrolled passion] is a fire which consumes to Abaddon (to destruction, ruin, and the place of final torment); [that fire once lighted would rage until all is consumed] and would burn to the root all my [life’s] increase.” When you take those words seriously that will stop temptation real quick.
If we stop temptation in its tracks it won’t have the opportunity to give birth to sin. We just have to make a quality decision we are going to submit to God and resist the devil. When Jesus was tempted, He stood strong because He knew how God was going to give Him the kingdoms of the world. Jesus didn’t accept the enemies supposed shortcut of the process.
James 1:16-18 NKJV “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” Good gifts come from God. Anything the enemy presents is a counterfeit and will come with consequences none of us want.
The truth is, overcoming temptation is easy, we just have to put in the work. That work is renewing our minds with the Word and being submitted to God. When temptation comes, resist. Don’t let lingering thoughts bait you and drag you away. Put a stop to worry, fear, making your own way, and anything else the enemy throws at you.
By the power of the Holy Spirit you can endure and overcome. Abide in the Word and you will have the weapons you need to overcome any temptation. If you give in, accept responsibility and repent. Don’t be like Adam and Eve and pass the buck, be like David in Psalm 51. You can be victorious. Walk in victory one step at a time. Meditate on the Word day and night and you will have success.