5 God's Choice & Our Choices James 1:13-18


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God's Choice & Our Choices James 1:13-18 Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/gods-choice--our-choices-tim-bond-sermon-on-temptation-resisting-48423.asp

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5 God's Choice & Our Choices James 1:13-18

  1. 1. God's Choice &Our Choices James 1:13-18<br />Adapted from a Tim Bond sermon<br />http://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/gods-choice--our-choices-tim-bond-sermon-on-temptation-resisting-48423.asp<br />
  2. 2. Recently I heard about a school that faced a unique problem. It seems that a number of girls there were going into the bathroom and putting on their lipstick. After they put it on their lips, they pressed their lips to the mirrors leaving dozens of lip prints. I guess they thought it was kind of cute, but as you can imagine it was a nightmare for the janitors. <br />
  3. 3. Finally the principal decided something had to be done. She called the girls to the bathroom and met them there with the custodian. She explained that the lip prints caused a major problem for the custodian, who had to clean the mirrors every day. To demonstrate how difficult it was, she asked the custodian to clean one of the mirrors.<br />
  4. 4. As the girls watched, the janitor took out a long-handled brush, dipped it into the toilet, and scrubbed the mirror. That little demonstration had amazing results. Since then there have been no lip prints on any of the mirrors in that school. <br />(from PreachingToday.com)<br />
  5. 5. What that principle was doing for those girls was little bit like what James is trying to do for us in the passage we are going to look at this morning. He wants us to think about what we are doing. He is convinced that if we understand a little more about the nature of sin, we are going to be less likely to be so cozy with it. Let’s look at what he has to say.<br />
  6. 6. James 1:13 NET Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. 15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.<br />
  7. 7. 16 Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change. 18 By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.<br />
  8. 8. As we look at these verses I want us to follow the line of thought that James is leading us through. It seems like James is shifting gears & going in different directions. He jumps from temptation to death, gifts & giving, birth, message of truth then firstfruits. At first, these verses almost seem like random, unconnected thoughts, but there is a critical connection between the things that James is telling us. <br />
  9. 9. He wants to make sure that when we face the choice between right and wrong in our life, we do so understanding both the nature of sin, and the choice that God made on our behalf. Let’s look closely at what he’s telling us.<br />
  10. 10. He Warns Us About Death’s Slippery Slope<br />13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires. 15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.<br />
  11. 11. James has been talking about trials, suffering and hard times in previous verses. Now the thought changes from trials to temptations. Understand, trials and temptations are different things, but they are related to one another.Trials are external circumstances that challenge our happiness. (death of someone close, loss of job, financial crisis, loneliness, health problems) They are the tough things that happen to us that we usually can’t do anything about.<br />
  12. 12. Temptations on the other hand, are often the internal response to want to do wrong things in light of those tough situations. <br />When going through a financial crisis you are tempted to get money through illegitimate means, when suffering from problems are you tempted to escape by means of alcohol or illicit drug use?<br />
  13. 13. When you are bored or hurt in your marriage you are tempted to find an avenue other than your spouse to satisfy your need for intimacy? Though temptation isn’t always connected to trials, they become way more powerful and seductive when that is the case.<br />James points out that there is a process in the way we fall into sin. The process begins with a routine desire. We have them all the time.<br />
  14. 14. You may be having one right now. Are your eyes getting heavy? Is your stomach growling? Your body has desires that are natural, even God-ordained. These routine desires are created within us to make sure that we take care of our needs. We have a desire for intimacy, a desire for fulfillment (physical and emotional), a desire for pleasure. There is absolutely nothing wrong with routine desire in your life. <br />
  15. 15. James warns us though, that we can be drawn away from God’s side by our desires. He wants us to understand that temptation is something that takes place within us. You can’t blame temptation on anyone or anything else, because it’s not something that happens on the outside, but on the inside. He uses some graphic language to catch our attention. The words "lured" and "enticed" are the language of hunting and fishing.<br />
  16. 16. Let me explain. You decide to go fishing. How many of you go to the bait shop and buy bait and then throw it in the water? Nobody, unless your goal is to feed the fish. But if your plan is to catch a fish, you put a hook in the bait. The idea is that when the fish sees the bait he’s stupid enough not to know there’s a hook in it. Because he has been drawn out of where he was safe, he takes the bait with the hook in it and gets captured. <br />
  17. 17. Now, did the worm or the minnow have any power to capture that fish? I’ve never seen a fishing worm grab a fish, wrestle it around and throw it in a boat, have you. No, on its own that bait had no power except that which the fish gave it. What gets the fish caught isn’t the power of the bait, but the desire of the fish.<br />
  18. 18. Temptation is the same way. It’s the bait that Satan throws out to get us to fulfill our legitimate desire in an illegitimate way. He jiggles it to see if he can get us to hit. He won’t make the hook so obvious that you’ll look and say you don’t want it. He makes it look desirable and innocent. But the lure of sin has no power over us unless we give it that power. James says it’s our own desire that makes us jump and get caught.<br />
  19. 19. Jerry Kirk is a nationally recognized Christian speaker who travels around the country speaking on family issues. One of the biggest issues he deals with is warning against the evil of pornography. Some time back in an interview he told about an incident that happened to him. "I travel alone a lot in my job, and I stay in a lot of hotels with cable TV. I sometimes struggle whether to watch pornography while in the room.<br />
  20. 20. One time, I was flipping through the channels to find the World Series. While flipping, I came across a channel with half-nude women. I flipped over to the baseball game. Ten minutes later, I flipped back to the movie, and then quickly back to the World Series. I did that four or five times before I shut off the TV." He went on to say, "I was unnerved at the power of temptation, especially since I’ve given my life to combat pornography.<br />
  21. 21. I’ve had to come face to face with the Lord and plead for mercy: ’Lord, how is this possible?’ I began to lose confidence in my prayers. God reminded me, ’Jerry, I’m not surprised by your sin. I’ve known all along you were a sinner. I’ve known all along that you were weak. I needed you to know that you were weak. And I need you to know that I alone will make you strong.’<br />
  22. 22. James tells us that God doesn’t tempt us for evil, and when we feel drawn to do the things that God has told us not to, pay attention to the hook that is there trying to drag you away from God. Notice what James says happens next. “Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death."<br />
  23. 23. Do you see the process that occurs if we do not stop it? Routine desire becomes runaway desire. Runaway desire grows up to become disobedience. Then if that disobedience continues to grow unchecked, it brings death.<br />You can see it in the story of David and Bathsheba. David’s desire for companionship and pleasure were not bad desires in themselves. But one night he walked out on the porch and caught sight of Bathsheba taking a bath.<br />
  24. 24. Seeing her inflamed his routine desire into runaway desire. It was immoral for him to take another man’s wife, but that didn’t matter. All that mattered at the moment was taking care of the runaway desire. Ultimately that disobedience led to an illegitimate child who died, and trying to cover it up he even plotted and carried out the murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah.<br />
  25. 25. Satan didn’t reveal the hook in that scenario, but he drew a godly man away from God’s side by using the desire to fulfill his passion in a way that God had said not to. James warns us that there is always a hook hidden in the temptation to sin. But notice what James tells us next.<br />
  26. 26. The Reality of God’s Generous Nature<br />At first blush, you might not see the connection between these verses and the previous ones, but James has been around the block and he knows the way Satan works. One of Satan’s most persuasive ploys is to deceive us into thinking that God is holding back from us. Have you ever heard the Devil whisper in your ear, <br />
  27. 27. "There are better things out there than you are getting, but God is holding back on you. Go for the gusto. Don’t be so concerned about morality. It doesn’t matter if it’s immoral or illegal. Don’t let God keep you from experiencing life.“ <br />Sounds like a serpent in the garden, doesn’t it! The Satan who tempted Eve to sin thousands of years ago is the same Satan tempting us today! Except now he is more experienced!<br />
  28. 28. James knows Satan’s voice. He knows that a powerful deception that he uses to tempt us is by making us think that God is keeping us from getting the really good stuff. So listen to what he says. "16 Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or the slightest hint of change."<br />
  29. 29. The things that are there to draw us away from God are not perfect, they are evil and imperfect, and they will destroy us in the end. God is not holding out on you, he wants you to live a fulfilled life, and the way to do it is by following Him, not ignoring Him.<br />Psalms 37:3 NET Trust in the LORD and do what is right! Settle in the land and maintain your integrity! 4 Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.<br />
  30. 30. Do you believe that? If we did, we would live the way God wants us to. We would not get greedy but we would be generous. We would not give into our desire for power or prestige. We would live lives of servanthood. We wouldn’t carry grudges, we would forgive. God has shown us a path for a great life in his word, but sometimes we are drawn away by the hook of sin, and we forget that God will give us everything we need for life, if we will stick with Him.<br />
  31. 31. David wrote those words, we don’t know when. He knew they were true from his own personal experience. <br />- God gave David victory over Goliath- God gave David strength to make it through the hard times when Saul was trying to kill him.- God provided wisdom and power for David to win over Philistines<br />
  32. 32. - God provided David with great insight to govern people and interact with neighboring countries.<br />- God provided David with counselors, friends, support from people.<br />I wonder if he wrote these words “Then you will take delight in the LORD, and he will answer your prayers.”before or after the incident with Bathsheba. You remember what happened. <br />David had Uriah killed.<br />
  33. 33. The prophet Nathan comes in and tells him a story of a rich man who steals the poor man’s lamb. David pronounces judgment with no pity.2 Samuel 12:5 NET Then David became very angry at this man. He said to Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this deserves to die! 6Because he committed this cold-hearted crime, he must pay for the lamb four times over!"<br />
  34. 34. 7 Nathan said to David, "You are that man! This is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘I chose you to be king over Israel and I rescued you from the hand of Saul. 8 I gave you your master's house, and put your master's wives into your arms. I also gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well! <br />
  35. 35. 9Why have you shown contempt for the word of the LORD by doing evil in my sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and you have taken his wife as your own! You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10So now the sword will never depart from your house. For you have despised me by taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite as your own!’ <br />
  36. 36. Now don’t miss one important point in the last part of 8. “And if all that somehow seems insignificant, I would have given you so much more as well!" <br />God gave David victory over all the enemies he ever faced, but David fell to the enemy within. He allowed his routine desire to become runaway desire and it ultimately resulted in disobedience and death.<br />
  37. 37. James says that is not what God wants for us at all. As a matter of fact, God always has our best interest at heart when he tells us how to live. He does not hold back, but He consistently longs to give us what is best for us. You can be sure of that because of what James says in the next verse. 18By his sovereign plan he gave us birth through the message of truth, that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.<br />
  38. 38. Paul tells us exactly what “the message of truth” is. It is “the gospel.”<br />Colossians 1:5 NET Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel<br />We have been given “birth through… the gospel.” How does that happen?<br />
  39. 39. 1 Corinthians 15:1 NET Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. <br />
  40. 40. 3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received — that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.<br />So the Gospel is the death, burial & resurrection of Jesus. How does that give me birth?<br />
  41. 41. Romans 6:1 NET What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life. <br />
  42. 42. 5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection. 6 We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.)<br />
  43. 43. Do you see it all fall into place? By being untied with Christ in his death through baptism we are dead to sin. So we have DEATH. In that baptism we are BURIED with him. Coming up out of the water we are RAISED to “live a new life.” Hence we have been given birth through “the message of truth” the Gospel! <br />DEATH<br />BURIAL<br />RESURRECTION<br />
  44. 44. This passage is full of choices, isn’t it? First James points out the choices we make. If we choose to nurture our desires until they lead us away then the result is that they will carry us away to death. But there is reason to choose different. We can choose to disregard Satan’s whisper. We can choose not to be drawn away from God by remembering the choice that God made on our behalf.<br />
  45. 45. When we sinned, God could have left us separated from Him. However, instead of leaving us to suffer the consequences of our sin, He made a choice to forgive. God’s love drew Him to you for a purpose, “that we would be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.” <br />Perhaps the definition of the word translated firstfruits will shed some light on just what James is saying.<br />
  46. 46. 1) to offer firstlings or firstfruits<br />2) to take away the firstfruits of the productions of the earth which was offered to God. The first portion of the dough, from which sacred loaves were to be prepared. Hence term used of persons consecrated to God for all time.<br />3) persons superior in excellence to others of the same class <br />(Thayer’s Greek Definitions)<br />
  47. 47. Through our “CHOICES” of belief in & obedience to Jesus we become the firstfruits, the first portion, first born, who are consecrated to God for all time. In all this, through God’s power, we become superior in excellence to others of the same class. <br />Remember, “All generous giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”<br />
  48. 48. James says that God chose to give “us birth through the message of truth” because he wanted to experience the sweetness of our fellowship. God desires us, he cultivates us, works with us so he can enjoy us. What a privilege to be enjoyed by God. Notice what James is telling us. When we say no to the desires that are tempting to draw us away from God, we are saying yes to something that is much better.<br />
  49. 49. Henri Nouwen once said, "I cannot continuously say no to this or no to that, unless there is something ten times more attractive to choose. <br />Saying no to my lust, my greed, my needs, and the world’s powers takes an enormous amount of energy. The only hope is to find something so obviously real and attractive that I can devote all my energies to saying yes…. One such thing I can say yes to is when I come in touch with the fact that I am loved." <br />(Leadership Journal; Winter, 1982, p. 16)<br />
  50. 50. For too long we Christians have spent way too much time trying to get people to say no to the things of the world without telling what we can say yes to.<br />The truth is, God doesn’t want you to spend your life saying no. He wants you to say yes to Him, to find your eyes so fixed on the pleasure of living in his presence that the bait of this world doesn’t even get noticed. Do you realize how much God loves you? <br />
  51. 51. He chose you to be able to live in His presence for His pleasure for all eternity. He made that possible by sending His Son to accept the penalty for sin by dying in our place. <br />Romans 5:8 NET But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.<br />God made an incredible choice to give us the opportunity to live forever with Him. Now we have some choices to make.<br />
  52. 52. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13 NET "Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it. <br />
  53. 53. There is the wide pathway that is full of runaway desires and slippery slopes. It’s not too hard to make the choice to follow it. As a matter of fact, if you don’t make a choice you will just be swept along with the crowd down the wide pathway. But there is another choice. It is a narrow pathway that leads you “through the narrow gate.”<br />
  54. 54. You and I have to choose to travel the narrow pathway. But the great thing about living on the narrow pathway is that we have a companion that is leading us, who wants us to be with Him so much that He is willing to die to make it possible. We don’t have to spend our lives afraid of slipping off the pathway if we keep our eyes focused on the one who calls us to follow.<br />