A father told his son not to go swimming. Later that day he caught him swimming. The boy insisted he didn’t mean to go swimming. If that’s so, the father asked him why he had brought his swimming suit. His son said he brought it just in case he was tempted.
You can’t blame temptation on God, your circumstances, heredity, or the way your parents raised you. God allows trials in your life but not with evil intent. He isn’t delighted when you stumble. James saw an internal source of temptation. He described it as being “dragged away” and “enticed” by your own evil desires (James 1:14). Both are hunting and fishing terms.
About 35 years ago I was fishing in a creek near my home. In one pool the fish were hiding under a fallen tree near shore. I dangled my lure at the outside edge of the tree. I slowly moved it up and down. A fish moved close to investigate my lure, drawn away from safety. After looking it over for several seconds, it attacked it. I’d successfully dragged it away from safety, enticed it, and hooked it.
That’s how your evil desires hook you. Sunday school teachers, pastors, missionaries, and church leaders aren’t exempt. Sin doesn’t occur until you surrender to your evil desires and grab whatever the bait is. There’s a way to escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Stay under your “fallen tree.”
In verse 15 we see yielding to temptation produces death. That’s the opposite of the blessed state verse 12 describes as the crown of life. Death can co-exist with life. “But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6, NIV). Through sin you forfeit the abundant life Jesus came to give. By yielding to temptation, you seek joy and fulfilment from something other than God. Evil desires paint the windows of you mind black. You can’t think clearly. Instead of real life, peace, and joy, there’s death and slavery to that which can’t satisfy.
What’s the remedy? The fish in that Pennsylvania creek first approached and then grabbed the source of temptation. Don’t get close to temptation to get a better view. That’s wiser than approaching it and then trying to resist.
Self-control is the result of the Holy Spirit’s control. If you consistently yield to temptation, it’s not willpower but the Spirit’s power that you’re lacking.
God gives only good and perfect gifts (James 1:16-18). He doesn’t send temptations your way. As the Father of the heavenly lights, He gives dependably. He remains forever the giver of good gifts. His best gift is His own life which comes to you at spiritual birth. It’s foolish to trade it for sin’s fleeting and unsatisfying pleasure.
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