Grace for Today: James 1:13-16

The Fatal Attraction of Sin (Part 1)

Please Read James 1:13-16

So far in my articles from the Book of James we have been speaking of trials.  According to what James has said up to this point we are to count them as joy based on the fact that God has in mind our growth.  When we respond to them in a God honoring way we grow and mature in Christ-likeness.

James 1:12 (ESV)

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.

There is, however, another side to trials.  There is the dark side of the trial. There is another possibility.  What happens when we don’t respond correctly?  What happens when we waste the opportunity God has given us to grow?  What happens to us when God sends a trial for our growth but rather than growing we choose to use it as a means to sin?  This is what James looks at in our passage today.  Rather than “standing steadfast” we fall. What happens when we fall?  Most of the time instead of repenting, which would be the best thing, we often blame others for our sin.  Let’s look at what happened when Adam and Eve sinned?

Genesis 3:8-13 (ESV)

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. [9] But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” [10] And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” [11] He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” [12] The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” [13] Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

What did Adam do when confronted with his sin?  Adam blamed God.  What did Eve do when confronted with her sin?  She blamed the serpent.  This seems to be our practice as humans.  Not much has changed.  We tend to blame God or we blame the devil, rarely do we take responsibility ourselves.

That brings us to our passage.

James 1:13-16 (ESV)

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.  [14] But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  [15] Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

[16] Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

1- The Problem (vs. 13)

The problem is simply stated by James.

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.

We have in this text the word tempted.  We read some weeks ago a similar word in the original language that was translated trial.  Both words come from the same Greek word.  However in some cases the word is translated trial and in others it’s translated temptation.  What makes the difference?  What makes the difference is the context and the outcome.

Here, in the mind of James, we have good theology gone bad.

The good theology is that God is responsible for the event, circumstance, or situation.  God has sent the trial.  God has sent it for our good, from God’s perspective it is an opportunity to grow and mature.  It is a chance to take a step toward Christ likeness. However, when we don’t take God at His word, when don’t believe God is sovereign, when we don’t trust God, when we don’t use the trial as means to grow, we turn this opportunity to grow into an occasion to sin.

Even in a wrong initial response we see the love of God: even if we begin to respond in the wrong way, God promises to provide a way to escape sin.  When we have fallen into the pit of temptation God throws us a rope.

1 Cor. 10:13 (ESV)

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

James wanted to make sure his people new this truth.  God wants us to learn the same truth.

Make sure to join me next week to learn more about using the trials of life as a means to grow in Christ-likeness rather than allowing them to devastate us.

I’m Brian Evans, pastor of Grace Community Church and I pray the Lord will send you “Grace for Today”

Grace For Today: Is Your Happiness Driven by Your Possessions? (Part 1)

Is Your Happiness Driven by Your Possessions? (Part 1)

James 1:9-12

There is a misconception in our consumer driven culture.  The misconception is, money = security or money = happiness.  It’s interesting that of all the trials James could mention specifically, he begins speaking of the haves and the have-nots.

Here is an interesting statistic: Compared with Americans in 1957, today we own twice as many cars per person, eat out twice as often and enjoy endless other commodities that weren’t around then–big-screen TVs, microwave ovens, SUVs and handheld wireless devices, to name a few. But are we any happier?  Are our lives filled with ease and contentment?  The answer is that we are not happier.  We are not more content, in fact, we are the most unhappy and medicated culture ever to exist.  We spend our lives acquiring goods only to find they don’t satisfy.  They didn’t provide security, or make our lives easier.  They didn’t deliver what they said they would.  As a result, we are left with debt, bills, and depression.  Keeping up with the Jones’ is a race that leads nowhere but destruction.

James saw the temptation to base our security, happiness on externals as a real problem. The reason it was a problem was because since the persecution broke out many if not most Christians had lost just about everything they had.  The Christians were having their faith shaken.  How could James encourage the believers who were downcast? How could he encourage faith in a time where material possessions were being lost? Continue reading “Grace For Today: Is Your Happiness Driven by Your Possessions? (Part 1)”

Grace for Today: A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity Part 2 (James 1:1-4)

A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity (James 1:1-4) Part 2

Welcome to another edition of Grace for Today.  Last week we learned about the importance of viewing trials as opportunities to grow in faith rather than becoming self- focused and consumed with pity.  James taught us to have a godly assessment of ourselves being that of a servant of God and he also taught us to maintain the proper attitude.  He said to make up your mind to count a particular trial as joy because of the outcome which for believers will always be a more mature faith.

Now, let’s move on to the third and final point that James makes.

Please read James 1:1-4

We can count trials as joy which will lead us to actually being joyful not so much about the actual trial itself, but what God is providentially working in us as a result of the trial.

It’s a joy in the looking ahead.  It is a joy in an anticipation of your maturity and your eternal life to come.

Jesus had this in mind when he spoke the Beatitudes.

Luke 6:20-23 (ESV)

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. [21] “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. [22] “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  [23] Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Jesus said be joyful because what you will receive is far more valuable than what you are now suffering.

Romans 8:18 (ESV)

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Matthew 13:44 (ESV)

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

The treasure was worth more than all he currently possessed.  He didn’t count it as loss or pain or suffering to give up all he had.  So, in these passages we are told that we can consider trials, persecutions etc joy because of an anticipated future eternal reward. Continue reading “Grace for Today: A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity Part 2 (James 1:1-4)”

Grace for Today: A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity (James 1:1-4)

A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity (Part 1)

James 1:1-4

Thank you for joining me for another edition of Grace for Today.  As many of you are aware this article is set up as a Bible study.  It really helps if you can sit down and open your Bible as we work through the selected test of Scripture.  For the next few weeks we’ll be covering the Book of James together.

Today’s text is James 1:1-4

James 1:1-4 (ESV)

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:


[2] Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  [3] for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  [4] And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.


There are many responses to pain and suffering.  One can suffer and not believe in God. One can suffer and be bitter toward God.  One can suffer and thank God.

The Bible shows us how we can suffer and thank God.  Our tendency, even as Christians, is to suffer and become so focused on the suffering that we become self-absorbed in our pain.  Self-pity is the result.  Depression, gloom, and fear follow.  How is it that we, as believers, are able to handle trouble that comes our way?  It will come.

Job 5:7 (ESV)

but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

Just as sparks in a fire go up because of heat, we will meet up with trouble because we live in a sinful world.  James shows us in his opening that handling trouble God’s way begins with proper understanding of who we are and why we are to endure hardship.

If we’re going to handle trouble in a way that brings God honor we must have a proper understanding of who we are. Continue reading “Grace for Today: A Biblical Alternative to Self-Pity (James 1:1-4)”

Grace for Today: The Lord’s Intense Object Lesson (Jonah 4)

Grace for Today

The Lord’s Intense Object Lesson

Welcome to another edition of Grace for Today.  We’ve been systematically walking through the Book of Jonah week by week.  Today, we’ll be finishing our journey through Jonah.  I’m still praying about what to do starting next week, so I guess it will be a surprise to us all.  At this point, I’m thinking we’ll do something from the New Testament.

I’ve had some comments about the article and it seems that a lot of folks have been reading it.  Thank you for taking the time to read the article.  It’s been a blessing to write these.  I hope you’ve been challenged and encourage as much as I have been.

***Please read Jonah 4:1-11

When preachers measure the success of their ministry, they often turn to adding up the numbers.  Most I know will go to great lengths to look successful.  In their minds large churches and great crowds are the marks of success.  They are often like the rich man who isn’t happy until he has one dollar more.  Whether it’s the number of baptisms last year or the number on last week’s attendance sheet, their concern is with numbers.  In their attempts to be crowd drawers they become crowd pleasers.  Nothing is as important to many of these men as being successful in the world’s eyes.  It’s ironic that the very thing that would make most modern day preachers ecstatic made Jonah angry. Continue reading “Grace for Today: The Lord’s Intense Object Lesson (Jonah 4)”

Grace for Today: Jonah’s Second Great Commission

Grace For Today

Jonah Experiences His Second Great Commission

Thank you for joining me today for another edition of Grace for Today.  As we continue working through the Book of Jonah, we’ve been blessed to see the work of God’s grace in the life of Jonah.  Today, together we’ll see the work of grace in the lives of the Ninevites. Let’s get started.

Jonathan Edwards in his book called, A Narrative of Surprising Conversions written in the 1700’s, writes about the effects the work of God had on people in Northampton, Mass.  One of the first surprises that Edwards experienced was with a woman in town known to live a very ungodly life.  To his surprise she was converted.

Edwards writes, Particularly, I was surprised with the relation of a young woman, who had been one of the greatest company- keepers in the whole town. When she came to me, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the conversation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account of, was a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; and that God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not doubt of it and have seen much in my acquaintance with her since to confirm it.

He goes on, Though the work was glorious, yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have upon other. I was ready to conclude (though too rashly,) that some would be hardened by it, in carelessness and looseness of life; and would take occasion from it to open their mouths in reproaches of religion. But the event was the reverse, to a wonderful degree. God made it, I suppose the greatest occasion of awakening to others of anything that came to pass in the town.

In this account in the Book of Jonah this morning we are given Jonah’s Narrative of Surprising Conversions.  In his book the wicked Ninevites would be the last ones he thought would ever repent and surprisingly enough, those he wished would not repent.

*Please read Jonah 3:1-10

Isn’t the Lord wonderful?  When his people return in repentance He is ready to receive them back.  God holds no grudges. He doesn’t hold our past sin over our head ready to remind us should we start to slip again.  God is omniscient…all knowing, yet He will not remember past sin that has been forgiven.  One great attribute of God is that He forgets.  We have a greater problem forgiving others than God does.  God isn’t like a politician who while running for office brings out all the past sins of his opponent while hoping that his own are never found out. Continue reading “Grace for Today: Jonah’s Second Great Commission”

Grace for Today: God’s Provision

Grace for Today

Jonah experiences God’s provision of salvation

Thank you for joining me for more Grace for Today.  I’m so glad you’ve taken the time to sit down and look to God’s Word with me today.  May the Lord bless your efforts to understand His Word more thoroughly.

*Please open your Bible and read Jonah Chapter 2.

Look with me at verse three. Jonah declares that it was God who cast him into the sea. However, in 1:15 we read that it was the sailors who threw Jonah overboard. Unless we believe in God’s sovereignty we come up against a clear contradiction. What Jonah is telling us is that God used these pagan men to do His bidding. God can and does control every event. God controls governments, all people, and all things.  Jonah saw God’s Sovereignty.

Jonah doesn’t stop there, he goes on to declare that the storm belonged to God, he says, your waves and your billows passed over me. God created the waves but Jonah is declaring that the Lord sent them for a purpose. It was the Lord’s storm and this prophet realized the truth of sovereignty.  What those sailors didn’t know was that they were obeying the divine decree of God.

After thinking about the event, Jonah began to see the hand of the Lord in it.  Not only did Jonah see God’s sovereignty but Jonah also saw God’s salvation.

[9] But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” Here, Jonah is recounting his thoughts and his prayer. Previously he said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; Yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ Jonah has learned that God is present in all places at all times. His efforts had done nothing but get him deeper and deeper in distress. We have the description of the event. The water closed in around him, the deep surrounded him, weeds were wrapped around him, and he sank to the base of the mountains. In his mind his life had ended, whose bars closed upon me forever. In Jonah’s mind he was dead and buried, he had breathed his last. Notice what happened next.  Yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. God is the One who is glorified in saving Jonah.

If you are born again today, you can relate to Jonah. When in our efforts to save ourselves we sank all the deeper, it takes God to lift us up out our dead condition to bring life into our soul. We inherit salvation and God is glorified. It took Christ to set us on solid ground. It took Christ to secure our eternity with the Father.

That’s why Jonah warns everyone about the vanity of placing hope in anything but the true God.  [8] Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.

The rebellious prophet has seen the error of his ways. He had set himself up as god when he thought that he could have the last word. When he thought that somehow he could outrun the Lord he had set himself up as an idol. In so doing, Jonah was experiencing God’s judgment. Continue reading “Grace for Today: God’s Provision”