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James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”
It’s a fact of life folks – everyone struggles with temptation. Everyone. Whether it’s fighting the urge to eat that second piece of cake, fudge a little on your tax return, lie to your spouse about where you were and what you were doing, steal a lustful glance, or not tell your boss the whole story ... temptation to sin is all around us.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. This is episode #64, and in this episode, we going to take “A Look at Temptation.” So, buckle up and hang on because ready or not, here we go!
Usually, along with the temptation comes the desire to blame someone or something else. Right? “Well, if my boss weren’t so demanding ...,” “If my wife would give me a little more leeway ...,” If that woman (or that man) didn’t dress so provocatively ...,” we argue. Our tendency is to feel like we have no option, God has somehow – once again – put us into this sticky situation.
I opened this episode by quoting James 1:13. Let me read to you James 1:13-15. Listen closely.
“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.” (James 1:13-15)
Ok, so why read you this text? We need to park here for a few minutes and consider what God is telling us. First, in verse 14 James uses the words “dragged away.” Now I want us to think about that for a moment. When you think of someone being dragged away, what comes to mind? It almost gives the idea that you’re being kidnapped – taken while kicking and screaming against your will. But that is NOT what this phrase means here. This is not something that happens TO you unawares and against your will.
James is actually using a fishing term that is literally translated “drawn away” as opposed to “dragged away.” It refers to being lured away from a place of safety. It’s been a long time since I have gone fishing, but if I remember correctly, the purpose of the lure is to disguise the deadly hook by providing an enticement to the fish. So, think with me for a moment – what would happen if a fisherman simply tossed a bare hook into the water without the lure? Answer? Absolutely nothing.
You see, the lure – usually a big, juicy, squirming earthworm – is wrapped tightly around the hook and then placed into the water. The unsuspecting fish, swimming merrily on its way, catches a glimpse of something attractive out of the corner of its eye. Intrigued, it changes the direction it was swimming to go check it out. Cautiously at first, it begins to play with the lure. Finally, convinced that it poses no threat and is quite appealing, it sucks in the lure – but spits it back out quickly ... just in case.
When nothing bad happens, and the taste of that juicy delicacy is being savored on that fish’s tongue ... it sucks in the lure again, holding it for a moment longer – enjoying the taste. Its brain cells are rapidly firing in the excitement of this amazing discovery. But cautiously it spits it back out – just in case.
When nothing bad happens, it sucks in the lure one final time and quickly speeds off, thereby embedding that disguised deadly hook deep into its mouth. The lure has done its job. The result? Death!
So, here’s my question for you to consider. What is the “lure” that draws you away? The answer is found in James 1:14. We are lured; we are drawn away by “our own evil desires.” In other words, there is a particular lust or a craving you have for sinful pleasure, and you allow yourself to think about how to satisfy it. It begins innocently enough as a tiny tickle in the back of your mind. Your thought process considers it, weighing out the pros and cons – the risks vs. the pleasure it promises.
Then, as that thought becomes stronger, it creates within you a desire to put that thought into action. And – like the fish – you cautiously play around with it for a while. Then, when nothing bad happens, you selfishly suck it in and try to speed of without getting caught. But when you do ... WHAM!
I have a question for you here. Why do we even fool around with it? Why do we even allow our minds to think about it, letting it divert our attention away from God? Again, the answer is found in James 1:14. It “entices” you. It appeals to your sinful, fleshly desires for ease and pleasure, and it brings a type of excitement and arousal, even comfort.
You think about it. Thinking about it feels good. Thinking about it increases the anticipation and the desire for fleshly comfort and pleasure. You choose to let your mind dwell on it until eventually you act upon those thoughts. Remember – we’ve said this many times in many episodes – what you think will become what you do!
You see, when you entertain wrong thoughts, those thoughts will eventually produce wrong actions. For example, if you allow your mind to dwell on improper sexual thoughts – you will eventually act upon those thoughts. You might go to the Internet and visit adult-oriented websites. You might look upon another person in an improper way. You may develop unrealistic expectations in your marriage or in the workplace with a co-worker. You may seek out an extra-marital relationship. You might even commit a crime all in the name of sexual lust.
If you entertain prideful – King Me – thoughts, your actions will eventually be self-focused, self-purposed – geared to draw attention to “King Me” for the sole purpose of pleasing only self ... usually at the expense of others. If you entertain thoughts of fear, anger, anxiety, bitterness, pride, greed (and on the list can go), your actions will fall into step accordingly. Conversely, if you focus on thoughts of glorifying God – what will happen? Remember: What you think will become what you doYou will end up giving God the glory in all you say and do!
So, James is telling us that we sin because we see the lure of some type of sinful pleasure, it entices us, we think about it, and the result is that we commit a sinful act, which in turn leads to separation from God.
One of Satan’s major battle-tactics is that of keeping the Christian thinking they are defeated, still in bondage to sin. When the Devil accomplishes his task, he has succeeded in diminishing our potential for the Kingdom of God. If he can get you to feel defeated in your sin, to believe that you’re never going to change – after all, you’re only human and you still have that sinful nature – then you will eventually give up trying. You will learn to accept that sinful aspect of your life and eventually even embrace it.
Listen my friend, anytime you choose to not deal with a sin issue in your life, it will ultimately lead to a hardened heart. A hard heart happens when you hear God’s truth, believe what He says is indeed truth, yet repeatedly choose to do nothing about it. Every time you do this, your heart hardens ever so slightly. The temptation becomes stronger, and you fight it less. The sin has a stronger hold in your life and the conviction you feel over that sin loses its grip.
Every time you recognize a sin in your life, feel the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and yet do nothing about it, you become less sensitive – as 1 Timothy 4:2 says, your conscience is being “seared as with a hot iron.” And over time, you will become callous to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and suppress His fire; just like closing the door on a lantern no longer allows the light to shine for others to see.
I want to encourage you, my friend. There is hope! The Apostle Paul writes in Philippians 1:6 that he is “confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” You see, “It is God who works in you to will and to act according to His good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13) Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has a plan for your life. That means He will not allow sin to thwart His perfect purpose for you. He will never leave you to the beast. Don’t allow yourself to get bogged down in trying to figure out HOW to have victory over sin in your life. Focus your attention on growing in your relationship with God – the ONLY One who is able to strengthen you to do all things (Philippians 4:13). I like to put it this way: Don’t focus on the victory – follow the Victor!
If you would like to learn more about today’s study, or if you’re interested in learning more about our ministry, be sure to visit our website to see the multitude of resources we’ve made available to you – you can find our website at ThePurityCoach.com.
One of those resources I have been highlighting for you here is my book entitled “Extreme Mind Makeover: How to transform sinful thoughts and habits into patterns of life pleasing to God.” This book takes you on a journey through the Bible to examine what God has to say about how your thoughts, words, and actions influence and impact your heart. In fact – much of what you heard in today’s episode was taken directly from Chapter 6 of this book “Extreme Mind Makeover.” So go to our website, ThePurityCoach.com, and check out our resources page, or go directly to Amazon.com and purchase your copy of “Extreme Mind Makeover” today.
And if you haven’t subscribed to this podcast yet, let me encourage you to do so today so you won’t miss any of our upcoming episodes!
So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.