To those who are struggling with overwhelming temptation.
Trials and Temptations
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:12-15).
We all face numerous temptations every day. We see the lives of others doing well and begin to covet their circumstances. We get cut off by a driver who is on the phone and we want to run them off the road. We are bombarded with entertainment and often want to sit back and let others serve our needs. Temptation is everywhere we turn.
How do we respond when we are tested? Do we remain faithful, with our integrity and virtue intact? If we withstand temptation as James says, then we are rewarded by God. The Greek word for “stood the test” is dokimos.
In his commentary on Romans, Donald Grey Barnhouse goes into the background of this word. He says that coins in the ancient world were made by heating up metals, forming them, and then waiting for them to cool. The uneven edges of the coins were filed down and made smooth. However, some people filed down the coins more than they were supposed to, thus making their coins lighter.
Many money-changers were aware of this and just let it go. But certain money-changers stood up and would not let these counterfeit coins into circulation. It was these individuals that were called “dokimos.” James gives us three ways that we too can resist temptation.
Call to Motion
1. Focus on God’s Promise.
When we withstand trials, we are considered to be blessed. Sometimes this is hard to recognize because our lives seem to be much harder when we are fighting against our flesh. But we are blessed in the sense that we please God, and because of this we will receive the crown of life. The idea of crowns are only mentioned a few times in the New Testament, thus showing their rarity. God has promised this to us, and we must not take our eyes of the prize laid before us.
2. Recognize the Source of Temptation.
Temptation never comes from God. When Jesus was tempted, it is true that the Holy Spirit was the One who led Jesus into the desert. However, all three times the devil was the vehicle who brought about the temptation. According to James, temptation begins even deeper than an external force: it starts with the desires of our heart. We have to recognize that our own hearts are what lead us astray. Once we recognize the source, we can cut off temptation’s power at the root. If we don’t cut off temptation at the source, then we are merely “mowing over the weeds.” Eventually, they will grow back!
3. Remember the Result of Sin.
There is no doubt that sin is pleasurable for a season, but all seasons come to an end. The final consequences of sin are death and destruction. Sin may start out like a good time but will always end with worse results. If we don’t want to invite death and destruction into our life, we must wage war against our sin.
This life was never promised to be easy. But when we resist temptation and follow wholly after Christ, we will be blessed indeed.
Father, temptation is ever present all around us and he trials that we experience can sometimes seem too hard to bear. But help me to hold fast to your promise of blessedness awaiting those who resist temptation. Help me to know myself and my heart better, to cut off those things that cause me to stumble. Remind me of the consequences of sin, and forgive me. Give me strength to get through the trials of life. Amen.