This has been a good week in James so far! I'm just thoroughly enjoying this book! I've read if before, heard so many sermons based on scripture from it, but there is nothing like doing the S.O.A.P. method of study. Verse by verse, observations and applications of these precious Words of God!
So far this week, James 1:12-15
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, when it is finished, it bringeth forth death."
First, we observe that there is a reward for enduring trials and temptations. Not only do we get the immediate benefits of refining, but we have a crown of life that awaits us!
Next, we observe that God himself cannot be tempted. Temptation comes from evil, and God has no evil in His heart. He is completely righteous. Therefore, he never tempts man. When we are faced with temptation, it is NEVER from God. It is God's will that we be righteous as He is, and He would not tempt, or provoke us into evil. He may allow satan to tempt us, but it is our own lusts in our own hearts that draw us away from God.
Lastly, we observe that lust leads to sin, and sin leads to death. The very reason Jesus had to be sent here to die. "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) Without Jesus, we would all be dead in our sins, eternally separated from God.
Next, we come to the application of these observations. The first thing that really spoke to me, is that there is a definite separation of trials and temptations. Trials come from God, and are for our own good. They bring us closer to God, by realizing our weaknesses, and inabilities to handle things on our own. They shape and mold us to be more like Christ, and the Father that sent Him. We've all heard the analogy of silver, and it's refining through heat.
Temptations, are not of God. God wants us to be pure, and righteous as He. He always provides a way of escape for us, when the temptation is allowed. Notice I say "allowed" not "given!" "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13 In the King James, suffer, means allow. So, God will not allow a temptation that He knows is more than we can bear. A temptation that is to great for us to turn away from. That would be leading us into sin, and God won't do that. The reason we can be tempted, and He can't is because He has no evil in His heart. We do. We have the fleshly lusts that draw us away from God and into sin.
We are rewarded for enduring both trials, and temptations. Not only do we have the immediate rewards, of joy and closeness to God, but we have a crown of life waiting for us! As said earlier in this book, we are to count it all joy, when faced with temptations. I know, at the time, it is so hard to do. We like to be comfortable, and happy all the time. We pay big money for "easy living." But our goal here on this earth, is to further God's Kingdom, and to bring Him glory in everything! Trials, and temptations, can bring those things to pass, so we ought to look at it from God's perspective, and not our own.
That leads me to the last point that God is dealing on my heart about through these verses. I want to be able to not only withstand temptations, and have victory over them, but I want to limit the number of times I'm tempted in the first place. The fewer times I'm tempted, the less chances I have of falling to temptation. So, how do I accomplish this? Well, I look at why God can't be tempted, and what causes my temptations. God can't be tempted, because He has no evil in His heart, and lust is what leads to temptation for me. The answer here is simple. Follow through may not be so easy, but the answer is.
My eyes need to be on God. I need to remember that my goal in life is not to please myself, but to please Him, and bring Him glory. Seeing things as God sees them. Being thankful, for all that God provides, and finding happiness in Godly things, not earthly things. If I am focused on God, and fulfilled in Him, I have no desires for anything else, and therefore no lusts. If I have no lusts, I cannot fall to temptation and be led astray from God. Lust is the root of this horrible cycle, and it has to be stopped there...better yet, before it gets there!
Just because I have accepted Christ as my savior, and I am in the book of life, doesn't mean the journey has ended. I am of no use to God if I am walking in the flesh and fulfilling the lusts thereof. I won't have done anything to glorify God or further His kingdom, if that's the life I chose to live. I may be saved from spiritual death, but I still await physical death. God has given me time beforehand to fulfill a very important calling. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a neighbor, a member of the community, and a member of the body of Christ, the church. I can use that sphere of influence for good, or I can squander it. If I intend to use it for good, I must keep my eyes on God, and strive everyday to be more like Him. Reading His Word, and asking that He help me to see ALL things as He does. I know His ways are above my own, but He has also promised to give me the wisdom I need to do His will, if I just ask! (James 1:5)
For more thoughts on James, head over to the Good Morning Girls site, and see what God is teaching other ladies!