This weeks blog message is called, "SPEEDING, How to deal with temptation." The Bible talks about two different kinds of testing. One is called trials. The other is called temptation. Both of them use the same word in Greek -- "peirasmos". Sometimes it's translated "trials", sometimes "temptations". It doesn't matter because sometimes a situation can be both a trial and a temptation at the same time. There is a difference though that we need to be aware of. Trials are situations designed by God in order to help us grow. Temptations are designed by the devil in order to cause us to sin.
v. 12 "Blessed is the man who endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him." There is a prize, a reward, for enduring temptation. First it said "blessed" -- happy. Happiness comes from having your life under control, so that there is no bad habit that is devastating you. When you know how to say "no" to temptation it produces happiness in your life. It also says there is a "crown of life". In the Greek this literally means "life itself". James says, when you understand temptation, when you overcome it, when you learn to say "no" then you begin to really live. It is a crown which is life -- abundant life -- itself.
The question is, “How do I handle temptation? How do I say no when I want to say yes?” The book of James is a manual for Christian living that helps us deal with real issues that we all face, like temptation! Here a few things that James highlights.
1. Keep It Real
Face the fact: You will be tempted. Even Christians are tempted. All of us are tempted. "When tempted ... " not "if tempted..." It's just like trials, temptations are inevitable. Have you ever met person who says, "I thank God I have never been tempted in 20 years!" Everybody's tempted. You're tempted. I'm tempted. Every day we're tempted. You never get too old for it. You never overcome it by getting too spiritual. Everybody's tempted. The more you grow toward the Lord, the more you're going to be tempted. It's a fact of life. On the Rugged Road of Reality, all of us encounter temptation.
There's a misconception that says, once you're born again and become a Christ-follower, you've got it all together. You've arrived so you fake it and wear a mask and pretend like, “How could anybody do something like that?” We all are tempted. One of my favorite scriptures is found in I Corinthians 10:13, it says, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man." That means we all face the same things on the journey. We all have the same temptations, the same problems. Don't be surprised or shocked. Don't try to hide it. Some of you are caught in a compromising situation right now, but it is liberating to know that other people feel the same way you do. We all have the same struggles and problems.
It is not a sin to be tempted. It is a sin to give in to temptation. Did you catch that? Hebrew 4:15 "Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are yet he sinned not." He was perfect. He was tempted but He never gave in. It's not a sin to be tempted. It's a sin to give into temptation. I meet a lot of Christians who are intimidated by temptation. They think "How could I have such a thought?" The devil put it in your mind; it's not your fault. You are human. Temptation proves you're human, not that you're evil. It's not a sin to be tempted, it's a sin to give in to temptation. The more committed you are the more you're going to be tempted because the devil would like nothing more than for you to wreck your life.