Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved,
In our last lesson, we learned that we are to “count it all joy” when we fall into temptation because temptation produces patience, endurance or perseverance in us. And in the next few verses, the actual word “temptation” is used openly, rather than the word previously used, which was “trials.” Now, the full context of this chapter comes into view. There is no doubt, James is talking about the temptation to sin.
When we are tempted to sin it begins deep within us as we seek to fulfill our desires and lusts. What you desire most, be it more money, a new car, a bigger house, a happy marriage or a perfect body can lead to the temptation to sin if you are not careful. And sin, when acted upon, ruins your relationship with God. Sin at its heart is incredibly selfish and always about you – your desires, wants, needs and lusts and leads to our spiritual destruction as the image above shows.
James warns us not to be deceived. We know when we are struggling with the temptation to sin, because we instinctively know the difference between right and wrong, for God has placed that knowledge deep within us (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Hebrews 10:16-18). It is why even the unsaved know when they are doing wrong and feel guilty after they have done it, for God has placed that “sense” of right and wrong within everyone.
James warns us not to be deceived (vs. 16) by our desires. Every good and perfect gift comes from God above (James 1:17). If what you desire is not in line with God’s will for you then you know it is a sin.
It comes down to this – you are either “all in” with your relationship with God or you are still clinging to those temptations the world offers. Jesus said we must take up our cross and follow Him on a daily basis (Luke 9:23) and this means denying ourselves, taking that “narrow path” (Matthew 7:13-14) and not give in to our temptations. And what happens when you do not give in to your lusts and desires? You grow in your faith and your relationship with God.
And so we grow in Christ, and we are blessed. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved (tried), he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (emphasis mine).
Faith that works stands firm in the face of temptation.