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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.