Helping you grow closer to God
Download the Chip Ingram App
Resilient Resources on sale now.
About this series
Withstanding the Storms of Life
What’s the key to standing strong in the storms of life? How do we keep getting up no matter how many times the waves of trial and discouragement knock us over? One word – Resilient. Chip and Ryan Ingram team up on this series from James, Chapter 1, to remind us that God has given us all the resources we need to come out on top, regardless of what’s going on. If you’re looking for inner strength and outward power to withstand the toughest of circumstances, “Resilient” provides the guidance you need, to not give up or give in.More from this series
The people of God, the Church has always been resilient in times of crisis. And it has to do back to our solid foundation that we have in Jesus.
And really this idea of resiliency, just the definition is the ability to withstand or recover from a difficult situation. And isn’t that what we need right now? The ability to withstand in this season, or to recover in this difficult situation.
Well, we are diving back into the book of James. And here’s what’s great about the book of James. I love James. And it’s an incredibly practical book.
See, James is the half-brother of Jesus. He didn’t come to really believe in Jesus until after the resurrection. And after that, he became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Well, the church in Jerusalem started experiencing intense persecution. Stephen was stoned right there in the city and killed and then a wave of persecution from Jerusalem began to spread and hit the followers of Jesus.
And so, these followers now instead of being all located in Jerusalem worshipping together in their homes, they had their own shelter-in-place reality where they couldn’t gather, but they were scattered, they were separated, and they actually had their entire life upended. And now instead of finding community, they were now being ostracized and isolated and alone.
And this is the letter, in fact, the very first letter in writing we have of the New Testament. It was written about 40 to 45 A.D., just about ten years or so after the resurrection of Jesus. This is the letter and the context that James is writing to us of how to be resilient in the face of difficult situations, in the face of storms.
I hope you just set down the distractions for a few minutes and you just tune in and keep your eyes focused and your heart attentive, because I think this is really an important sermon today. We are talking about resiliency in the face of temptation.
See, one of the biggest things that will determine your resiliency in this situation is how you respond to temptation. One of the biggest things that will determine your resiliency, your ability to withstand this difficult situation, your ability to bounce back is how you respond to temptation.
And isn’t it true – isn’t it true that everything seems to be magnified right now? Like, maybe it’s with your marriage and the problems in your marriage now in light of this shelter-in-place reality has been magnified, hasn’t it?
Maybe it’s emotional stuff in your life that you are wrestling with and maybe you have anxiety or some of these sort of things and it just magnifies it. Maybe there are habits in your life that are bad habits and they have been magnified.
And it’s true, isn’t it true that temptations have been magnified? We are no longer, have the things that keep us so focused and driven and, for some, the temptations have – that once were minor or not that big of a deal have now become overwhelming, haven’t they? Or they have taken over, for some, your life.
And so, we want to wrestle with this question today. What do I do when temptation knocks? What do you do when temptation knocks at your door? Why? Because temptation is knocking way more often, it seems, in this season.
I remember when I was a young man, especially as a college student. I really battled with lust and it’s not like I don’t battle with it today, it’s just a different battle now. But I remember being so defeated and I wrestled with this, because what I found in my own life is the minute I gave way in a moment, maybe you have had this experience, the minute I gave way in a moment to lust, it just felt like that backslide became a landslide.
Like I just gave way in that moment and it wasn’t just that moment, but it was the aftereffects. It was like I took that step forward and then all of a sudden, everything else fell down behind me and it just felt like I just became – got caught up into a whole world and then I would feel so guilty and bad and be, but I’d be stuck in it. And then finally I’d be going, God, help! And I would go through this cycle and I just had this backslide become a landslide.
So, I started to ask this question: how do I keep a backslide from becoming a landslide in my life? How do you keep a backslide from becoming a landslide?
James is going to give us four things that are going to help us respond to temptation, to be resilient in the face of temptation.
If you’ve got your Bibles, would you open them up to James chapter 1, verse 13? James is going to tell us, okay, what do I do when temptation knocks?
The first thing he is going to say is, “Recognize the source of temptation.” Hey, pay attention. Recognize the source or the root of it.
Listen to what he says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me,’” no one should say, when I’m in the middle of that moment, “God, You’re tempting me. You’re behind this.” Why? “For God cannot be tempted by evil.” It’s impossible for God to be corrupted. He’s morally pure.
“…nor does He tempt anyone.” It’s not in His nature to put anything in front that would cause you to stumble.
“But each person is tempted when they are dragged away,” underline that word if you’ve got your Bible or highlight it maybe in your phone. “…dragged away by their own evil desires.” Would you go ahead and circle own evil desires? “But each person is dragged away by their own evil desires and enticed.” Go ahead and go ahead and underline that word enticed.
How do I keep a backslide from becoming a landslide? James is going to say, first, we have to recognize the source of temptation.
But before we talk about the source of temptation, let’s talk about the nature of temptation.
The nature of temptation, James actually uses two words here that give us great understanding into what temptation really is. He uses the word – I had you underline dragged away and then enticed. These are words taken from the hunting and fishing arena.
Dragged away is the trap set by a hunter that is, you know, getting out in the woods and he is going to disguise it and set a trap to catch his prey. And then entice is the word of a fishing lure. And I think this gives us such profound insight into temptation.
He gives the picture of a lure and says, “Okay, temptation is just like this lure,” meaning first, it’s handcrafted for your desires. This lure was crafted and created for a certain type of fish. And it’s going to be put in the water and it’s crafted. Maybe it’s a bass or maybe it’s a trout. Obviously, I’m not a fisherman so I don’t know. But what is interesting, what’s interesting is there is a bunch of lures out there.
To attract different type of fish. And this is, he’s saying, “You know what? There are temptations out there that are handcrafted specifically for your desires.” It is made to go, hey, if this doesn’t get you and all of us have just a little bit different lure that is attractive.
And for some, you might be wrestling, it might be a temptation for you that isn’t for another person. And it’s going like, okay, there’s a tacklebox, if you will, that our spiritual enemy has that he wants to just throw these lures in front of you.
The second is if you notice about a lure is it’s designed, it’s really designed to be attractive and appealing. Can we just say that about temptation? Because I think sometimes, we kind of look like, “Oh, I shouldn’t.” Well, it’s designed to be tasty.
A fish bites into this because it looks attractive and it’s appealing. It’s like, “Oh my gosh!” It’s got all this silvery stuff that catches your eye that makes you go, “I want to throw caution to the wind and try that out. It looks tasty.”
The second thing, if you notice about a lure is it looks and moves like the real thing. See, it tricks a fish into: this is actually another minnow or whatever that is bait. It’s moving in the water in a way that looks and moves like the real thing. And that’s the subtlety in this deception of temptation is it looks and moves like the real thing. And it offers what it can’t make good on.
And here’s the final thing. All temptation comes with these hooks. They all come with a catch. See, it’s handcrafted for your desire, it’s appealing and it’s attractive, it looks and moves like it’s the real thing, but it’s fake. It’s not really going to satisfy. It’s not ultimately going to gratify. And it comes with these hooks that the minute you bite into it, it sinks deep into your soul.
He says: this is the nature of temptation. And I think it’s important, the reason why James starts here on temptation is because we are most vulnerable in three different arenas in our life to temptation.
We are most vulnerable to temptation when we are tired. A lot of you are tired right now, aren’t you? Parents, I know you’re exhausted as you are trying to do work and you’re trying to help educate your kids.
I know people’s work has been off the chart and running around and just you’re tired of the way things are going. When we are tired emotionally and when we are tired physically, when we are tired spiritually we are vulnerable.
We are vulnerable when we are isolated and alone. And we are literally isolated right now. And so, we have to be alert, we have to be aware that we are vulnerable. That’s why we need community. We are going to talk more about that in a minute.
And we are vulnerable when we are stressed. And what we do when we are stressed is we often shift from the things in our life that are life-giving or nourishing to things that are numbing. Just to kind of take the pain away. Well, that’s a little bit about the nature of temptation.
What is the source? Did you notice it? I had you circle it. He says, “Our desires.” It’s our desires.
He says at the end of the day, it’s actually inside of us, there’s a broken reality inside of us and that’s the root issue. And our human tendency since the beginning of time is to blame others for our own sin.
You’re like, yeah, there might have been a lure out there, but at the end of it, it’s me that wanted to bite into it. It’s me that responded to it.
And what we do is we cast blame. It has been happening since the Garden. Adam did this and he was confronted with his sin before God and says, as he took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and God asked him, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat this?” And he says, “The woman You gave me.” You see how he blamed God for his sin?
And ultimately, anytime we don’t take responsibility, we actually end up blaming God. A lot of times I hear it this way, “Well, God just made me this way.” “This is just who I am.” “God just made me this way and so, you know what? Life is really difficult. So I’m entitled to do whatever I want in this season, just to make it a little bit more pleasurable.” And we just put blame out there. And he says, “No, no, no.
If you want to be resilient in this season, you first have to recognize the source of temptation.” And he says we have no one to blame. We have no one to blame. You can’t blame God; you can’t put it on anyone else. We have no one to blame. It’s our broken desires.
We have to accept responsibility. As long as you keep blaming, you will not gain victory over your temptation, friends. As long as you keep blaming and say, “It’s out there, it’s them,” then you will never experience the victory God has for you.
And so, he says, “No, no, no. Recognize. Recognize the source of temptation and say, ‘I’m going to take responsibility. I have nobody to blame.’” And then he says, “Address the progression of temptation.” Then he says this, “Then after desire has conceived,” watch this progression, “it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Desire, sin, death. Desire, sin, death. Now, it’s important, for some of you, you need to hear this, when desire is conceived, when you are first tempted, when that lure is just set out there, that’s not sin. Some have believed a lie and you get, you end up in that backslide to landslide because the minute you get tempted, you feel defeated. And so, already you’re like, “Well, I might as well go all the way.”
No, no, no! No, no, stop! There’s a progression. Recognize the progression. When you’re tempted, that’s not sin. Sin is when you act on that temptation. Sin is there’s desire and then there is, you act on that. That’s sin.
And then what happens is if you allow sin to grow, if you allow it to build in your life, ultimately what it will produce or what it will give way to is death. It will kill you. It will keep you from who you are made to be and it will destroy the relationships around you. And here’s what happens. Our natural – our natural is to dismiss or diminish sin, to act like it’s no big deal. We say that. We go, “Well, it’s not that big of a deal, it’s not hurting anyone, it’s just what I need to get through this.”
And he says, okay, would you say that when sin is full-grown, when it becomes its adult version, which means it takes time and it’s a process and it starts small and we feel like it’s under control and it’s just kind of hidden and it’s kind of secret and then it grows and grows and grows and then it’s out of our control.
What does this sin full-grown look like in your life? Maybe it’s lust. Maybe it’s lying. Maybe it’s gossip. When it’s full-grown, what are the ultimate consequences? See, we buy into the myth that that could never happen to me.
What happens is if you allow sin to grow, if you allow it to build in your life, ultimately what it will produce or what it will give way to is death. It will kill you. It will keep you from who you are made to be and it will destroy the relationships around you. And here’s what happens. Our natural – our natural is to dismiss or diminish sin, to act like it’s no big deal. We say that.
I think there are two important questions we need to ask here – the progression of sin and temptation.
What does this sin full-grown look like in your life? Maybe it’s lust. What is it full-grown look like? Maybe it’s lying. Maybe it’s gossip. Maybe it’s cheating. Maybe it’s an addiction. And right now it’s just like coping to get by in this season. But what is it full-grown look like?
And then the second question: what are the ultimate consequences? When it’s full-grown, what are the ultimate consequences? See, we buy into the myth that that could never happen to me. That would never happen to me. I would never do that.
And the truth is, is that’s the story of so many people whose lives have been broken and shipwrecked. “That could never happen to me.”
I learned so much from my dad growing up and I remember him saying this, because as a pastor, he saw other pastors who shipwrecked their lives through moral failures. And he never wanted his story to end that way, his ministry to be undermined. And I remember him sharing, actually, publicly teaching this as I was sitting and listening to him.
And he would literally visualize, this is what he would say, he visualizes what the ultimate consequences of a moral failure would be. And so he would visualize and walk this through of having to sit his kids down and going to them and – I’m his kid – so and going to us and just going, “Hey, Dad is not going to be around.” Seeing, visualizing the consequences of his marriage. Losing the ministry that he gave his life to build.
See, what happens is when we address the progression, we all of a sudden become painfully aware of these hooks. The shiny doesn’t look so attractive anymore.
See, what do we do when temptation knocks? We’ve got to recognize the source of temptation and then address the progression. We’ve got to move beyond the moment and just go, okay, where is this headed?
And then he’s going to go on to say: identify the lie and bring it into the light. Identify the lie. Get clear on what is the lie that we are buying into? And then bring it into the light. That’s why he says, “And don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” Don’t be duped. Don’t buy into the lie.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows.” See, most of us, I think, are not clear about the lies that we believe or have bought into.
See, the root lie, when it comes to temptation and the things we buy into is about God, His character, and His Word.
If you go all the way back to the Garden when the enemy, Satan, the serpent was tempting Eve, there are two main things that he wanted to undermine.
He said, “Did God really say you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Did He really say it?” wanting to undermine God’s Word. But fundamentally, what the enemy wants to do is undermine the character of God.
God wants to keep you from the knowledge. I think at the root for us of sin and brokenness and temptation is a belief that God isn’t good. It’s always an attack on the goodness of God and that we can get good outside of God and His ways.
See, he says, “Every good and perfect gift is from your heavenly Father who loves you.” He wants to – He doesn’t want to keep good from you. He wants only the very best for you. And He is the Father of heavenly lights. Like, bring it into the light. He doesn’t change like shifting shadows. He’s not changing His mind. He’s not inconsistent.
Think about the character of God, just in this text alone that James is telling us. One, that God cannot be tempted. He is morally pure. He doesn’t tempt anyone. He is not putting things out to try to trip you up. He wants the very best for you. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. God doesn’t change. He is absolutely consistent.
In fact, in the next verse we are going to see He is the giver of new life, not death. See, sin births death, it creates death. He wants to give you life. See, what we think is offering us a good and a way outside of God is actually creating great harm. God says, No, I just want you to experience life.
And so, and so, identify the lie. It’s always an attack on the character of God. And then bring it into the light. Nothing good grows in the dark, by the way. Secrets keep you and I stuck.
As long as it stays a secret, you will remain a slave to it. Nothing good grows in the dark. You’ve got to bring it out into the light. That’s why James was saying in 5:16, a little bit later on, he’ll say, “Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other that you may be healed.”
This is why we do community. You can’t afford not to do community. You were never intended to do this life on your own. And in community of believers who love you and are for you, you bring the real you and say, “This is where I’m at. Would you help me?” He says in that process, God brings healing.
Would you identify the lie and bring it into the light? Well, you’re asking, “Well, I don’t know what exactly to bring into the light.” Well, let me give you a little litmus test.
Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your wife to find out about or your husband to find out about? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your parents to find out about? Is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your friends or your mentors to find out about?
Put it a little differently, is there anything in your life that you wouldn’t want your pastor to find out about? That’s probably the areas where you’d say, Man, God, bring that into the light. Get a trusted friend who loves Jesus who can walk with you through that.
And some, I think just even as we are talking, I want to give a little word of hope in this moment. Because I think if you’re anything like me in that college kid, you just felt so defeated and you felt like: this will never change. You feel like you’re the only one going through this.
And the apostle Paul would say in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you or seized you except what is common to mankind.” See, we have all been in this. We are all going through this. We are all struggling.
And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. He is faithful. He is going to meet you right in that moment. If you would just recognize instead of running from God in the middle of that moment, you bring Him into it.
But when you’re tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. And it’s often the community of God around you that is His way out for you.
Okay. So, what do we do when we are – when temptation knocks? Recognize the source, address the progression, identify the lie, bring it into the light.
And finally, we need to remember what is true of you in Christ Jesus. You’ve got to remember. You’ve got to reorient your life back to what is fundamentally, foundationally true of you.
He says this, “He chose to give us birth through the Word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created.” He chose – think about this. God chose you! It wasn’t just like, “Man, I’ve just kind of got to be a part of this.” God says, I chose you to and to give you new birth. So what God has done, you can’t undo. Have that confidence. “To give you new life through the Word of truth,” His gospel in you.
Well, you have a spiritual enemy who wants you to live in shame and guilt. Here’s how the enemy works, by the way. He likes to set out the lure, we are responsible for biting on it, but he likes to set it out and lure you in and go, “Hey, come on, get this.” And then you bite on it and you’re stuck and you’re experiencing all the consequences and you’re like, “Ahhh!” And then you know what he does? The jerk! He’s a jerk! Let’s just say it. He’s a, yeah, he’s a jerk.
Because he is known as the accuser of the saints. And so, you know what he does? Is he entices you and you bite on it and then he accuses you. He goes, “How could you? What were you thinking? Are you kidding me?” He accuses you and he wants you to live in shame and guilt.
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those of us who are in Christ Jesus.” See, the accuser is wanting to speak lies to you about who you are to keep you from running to your perfect heavenly Father who has every good gift for you. He wants to keep you hiding! See, that’s what Adam and Eve did in the Garden. The minute we blow it, we hide.
He says, “Come out of hiding. Come to your heavenly Father who loves you.” See, remember what is true of you in Christ Jesus. What is true of you is not what the accuser says. No. He’s a jerk. Stop listening to him.
What is true of you is that you are adopted into the family of God if you’re a follower of Jesus. What is true of you is you are a daughter and a son of the King most high. What is true of you is you have been completely forgiven. There is no condemnation. There is no place for the accuser’s word in your life.
What is true of you is you are loved unconditionally by a perfect, good heavenly Father. That is what is true of you. And by the way, that will keep a backslide from becoming a landslide.
How do you have resiliency in the face of temptation? Friends, you’ve got to get back to what is true of you in Christ Jesus.
I love this quote by John Bunyan and on Easter Sunday, my kids and I or our family, really, Jenny had us – we watched The Pilgrim’s Progress movie, which was great. And he writes this in his autobiography. He says, “I never saw those heights and the depths in grace, and love, and mercy as I saw after this temptation.” Did you catch that? “I never saw those heights and depths in the grace, and love, and mercy as I saw after this temptation.”
“Great sin,” he says, “draw out great grace. And where guilt is most terrible and fierce, there the mercy of God in Christ, when shown to the soul, appears most high and mighty.” Great sin draws out great grace.
I like how Tim Keller says it about the gospel. He says, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Remember, remember, get back, would you get it in your heart, would you remind yourself the minute the accuser is speaking to you, you’re like, “No, that’s a lie. You’re a jerk. Shut up.” Get what’s true of you in your heart and your mind.
I remember the turning point for me in my battle with lust as a college student. That idea of shame, that was a reality for me. See, shame says this, not that you failed but you are a failure. It becomes your identity. Not that you are – you know, made a mistake but you are a mistake. And my identity started to become that I’m a failure. This is who I am and I’ll never change. And I began to have such dark thoughts. Like the world might just be better without me. And as this heartache, broken moment. And the turning point was actually a dream I had.
And I remember having this dream and in my dream I was walking into my dorm room and as I opened the door, the room was pitch black. And there was an eight-year-old child who was me, as a kid – an eight-year-old me. Blonde-haired, scrawny – and the room is completely black, but the computer is on and all you can see is the blue hue of the computer on the kid’s face. And I remember in the dream going, No! No! Don’t go there! Don’t reach out! You have no idea. You don’t understand the hooks that are awaiting you that are going to get into you and the heartache and the pain.
And it was the first time that I finally saw myself a little bit the way God sees me. Not as a screw-up or as a failure, but as His kid. Not that He was mad at me or down on me, but that His heart broke for me. And it was in that moment where then I finally said, Okay, God, I’m going to run to You and bring all of me to You.