Seeking Jesus First - July 27, 2023

Seeking Jesus First - July 27, 2023
Photo by Emma Shappley / Unsplash

When are we tempted?

What are the usual circumstances surrounding the occasions when we find ourselves giving in to temptation?

Can we avoid or overcome temptations? I'll bet we already do more often than we realize it.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:13–27, NKJV)

I’m usually tempted when:

When I’m not sowing into my future.

  • When I’m not done anything on purpose or with purpose
  • When I’m not doing something important
  • When I’m bored
  • When I’m focusing on myself - being selfish
  • When I’m not ministering to the Lord or to others

Selfishness creates opportunity for temptation. Saint Jerome said (early 4th Century), “Idle hands are the devils workshop.” Proverbs says that a wise woman does not “eat the bread of idleness.”

Let’s dig into James 1:13-27.

God cannot be tempted and therefore does not tempt us. Before Jesus walked the earth, God had never experienced any form of temptation. That is because God did not have flesh. Temptation is the result of fleshly desires. I want something at a time when I have no right to it. Ex. Adultery, fornication, stealing etc. Or I want to protect myself or things that are mine. Ex. Lying, killing, etc. It is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, or pride that tempts us.

Don’t be deceived by temptation. Temptation is enticing you towards death.

On the other hand, every good gift is from God. He is giving you all of His goodness in order to overcome. God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. He has given us His faith, hope and love, so we can overcome. As recipients of God’s exceeding great and precious promises, we are able to partake of His divine nature. The very nature of God that is never tempted with evil has been made available to us. We are still in the flesh, but Christ Jesus lives in us and He is our victory.

By His own will and His own word of truth, God has begotten us as a “firstfruits” of all creation. The salvation that He has promised us is available to the rest of creation. Through Christ Jesus, we are saved. Through the manifestation of the sons of God, all of creation is renewed.

Because of this, let us all be swift to hear the word of truth, slow to speak anything but the word of truth, and slow to anger, walking in constant love and forgiveness. Let us be doers of the word of truth. If we are claiming to be hearing the word of truth and we are not doing it, we are deceiving ourselves.

The Word of God, Jesus Christ and the word of truth are a mirror that we are to “look into” and be “transformed by”. If we look into it the mirror and then look away and forget what we look like in Christ, we will constantly be giving into the temptations of the desires of the flesh.

What is the answer then? Don’t look away and forget. Don’t look away. Keep the word in your heart and in your mouth and before your eyes. “He who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” He who looks and continues looking, paying attention to what he hears and does what he is taught by the word will see the blessing in all that he does. Don’t change the word of God. Don’t make excuses. Don’t look for ways to make it mean something different so you can continue in something that is a work of the flesh (See Gal. 5:19-21).

So, if we keep our (focus) eyes and ears on Jesus and His word (including the teachings of the apostles), and we say what it says, and we do what it teaches, we will have a continuous purpose, we will be doing something important, we will not get bored, we will not be selfish, and we will be ministering to or serving others. We will be avoiding and overcoming temptation without even trying to.