Enduring Temptation

Scripture: James 1:12, James 1:12-21, Psalm 119:11
Date: 10/18/2014 
Lesson: 3
"Temptations are real, sin is real, and the battle against self is very real. But God is real, too, and through Him we can more than overcome the temptations that brew inside us, just waiting to take us down."
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Hello friends and those here. Welcome to Sabbath school study hour. And we're just very glad that you can tune in and study God's Word with us. For those who might be wondering about the little different look and feel here, let me give you the background. For the last 18 years or so Amazing Facts has been co-producing the Sabbath school study time with the Sacramento central church.

Well about seven years ago, Sacramento central accepted the challenge to plant a new church in an area where there was no church, called Granite Bay. It's sort of an adjoining community to Sacramento. And the Lord's blessed and that church has flourished. It's a little closer to the Amazing Facts office and for several years now we have been sharing or renting facilities with a presbyterian church, but the logistics haven't really allowed us to produce programming there. And so, right now, like the children of Israel, our church is sort of in the wilderness between buildings so we're transitioning into another office/warehouse building where the church is going to be able to meet.

We'll have it seven days a week and that'll be very nice. We'll produce our Sabbath school programs there, but in the meantime, our members here, at the Granite Bay church and some visiting from the area, are joining us for our Sabbath school class. We're recording this during our regular prayer meeting time. But tonight, our teacher is going to be associate pastor of the Granite Bay church, pastor jëan ross - you're all familiar with. I asked jëan if he could please teach the lesson because I was in australia yesterday - well, I was on the plane yesterday coming back from australia and so I'm afraid of what I might say and so we're going to have our prayer and I'll let Pastor Ross introduce the lesson and our free offer.

So let's pray together as we begin. Father in Heaven, we're just very thankful for the truth. We're very thankful you have spoken in a wonderful way - your inspired word - through the apostles and prophets. And as we direct our attention now to study this lesson on this very important subject, we pray that you will be with us and guide us all to be more like Christ. We ask in his name, amen.

Thank you. Pastor Ross. Thank you, Pastor Doug and welcome back. Welcome friends, again, for joining us here at the Sabbath School Study Hour. If you're following along, we're going through the book of James, which is our Sabbath school quarterly for this quarter and today we find ourselves on lesson #3 - it is page 22 in the regular Sabbath school quarterly.

And for those of you who are joining us across the country and around the world, if you'd like to follow along, you can go to the Granite Bay church website and you can actually download the lesson that we'll be talking about today. The web address for the granite bay church website is 'granitebaysda.org'. We're on lesson #3 and the lesson is entitled 'enduring temptation.' Now, we have a memory text that I think is fairly familiar to most of us, it's James chapter 1, verse 12. So let's begin by taking a look at this important memory verse, James chapter 1, verse 12. The apostle James writes, "blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

" So our entire study for this week deals with the subject of temptation. How do we resist temptation? The apostle James has a lot to say about how we can be victorious. Now, before I forget, we have a free offer that we'd like to make available to anybody who's watching us. It's a little book called 'tips for resisting temptation.' It's written by Pastor Doug Batchelor. We'll be happy to send this to anyone who calls and asks for it and the number to call for our free offer is 866-788-3966 - that's 866-study-more and you want to ask for offer #708 - 'tips for resisting temptation.

' Now I'm going to actually be referring to twelve tips for resisting temptation that you find in this little book. You can also read this book online at the Amazing Facts website - just 'amazingfacts.org' and you go to the tab that says 'free online library,' you click on that and you'll be able to read along. You'll read the little books - some great, important insights here in this book so I think you'll enjoy that. The principle passage for our study today is James chapter 1 and it's verse 12 all the way through to verse 21. So I'm going to do something just a little different today.

We're going to look at these verses one by one - take some time to talk about each of these verses. So we're going to see how far we can get through the allotted time that we have this evening. So we're going to begin with our Scripture reading: James chapter , verse 12, and we've got some of our church members here who are going to read each of the verses as we work our way along. So, darren, why don't we start with you? James chapter 1, verse 12. Oh, actually it's kim.

Thank you, kim. "Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him." Thank you. Now notice how the verse begins. What's the first word that we have there in verse 12? James says, "blessed - blessed is the man." The word 'blessed' there could also be translated as 'happy.' Happy is the man who endures temptation. We don't always associate temptation with happy, especially enduring temptation.

Now, when you think of the word 'blessed,' is there another passage of Scripture that comes to mind that's fairly well known for also using the word 'blessed?' It's mentioned several times. It's the teachings of Jesus. It's kind of interesting that James often refers to the teachings of Jesus and, in this case, of course, we're thinking of the sermon on the mount in Matthew chapter 5 and verse 10, in particular, talks about those who are blessed when they face trials and difficulties and temptations - or in this case, persecution. Jesus says, in Matthew chapter 5, verse 10, "blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." You know, when we face temptation, sometimes we might feel as though we are being persecuted for righteousness' sake, but there is a promise - there is a blessing pronounced upon those who endure - those who hold firm and are faithful. So the verse is: "blessed is the man that endures temptation.

" The word there 'endure' means 'to hold on; to be steadfast; to stand and resist something coming against you.' Blessed is the man who endures - or resists - temptation. The word 'temptation' there can also be translated as 'trials' or 'affliction' or 'sorrow' or 'pain' or 'stress' - anything that comes against us for the purpose of distracting us or steering us away from God's purpose and plan for our lives. Anything that will try and move us away from obedience to what God asks us to do. That can fall into this category of temptations. Matthew chapter 24, verse 13, Jesus, talking about end-time events, said, "but he that endureth until the end, the same shall be saved.

" You know, in order to survive the last days, God's people need to have a high degree of endurance. We need to endure. The devil is going around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He's doing everything he can to try and break the hold of God's people on Christ. And, as the remnant, we need to have endurance.

We read about the remnant in Revelation chapter 12, verse 17 - we have two characteristics given on the remnant. Revelation 12:17 says, "and the dragon was enraged with the woman." In Bible prophecy, who does the dragon represent? Satan. Who does the woman represent? The church. And it says, "he went to make war with the remnant of her offspring. That's why the remnant need endurance, because the devil is making war with them and the characteristic of the remnant at the end of time, who keep the commandments of God and they have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation chapter 10 - or chapter 19, verse 10, defines for us what the testimony of Jesus is: it's the Spirit of prophecy. And then, in Revelation chapter , verse 12, we had an added identifying Mark as to the remnant. Revelation 14:12 says, "here is the patience of the saints." Now that word 'patience' can also be translated as 'endurance.' So God's people, at the end of time, need to have endurance. Then the verse goes on and says, "here is the patience of the saints; here are those that keep the commandments of God and they have the faith of Jesus." I think there's a close connection between having endurance, or patience, and the faith of Jesus. Notice, the remnant not only have faith in Jesus, but here it says they have the faith of Jesus.

Do you think there's a difference between having faith in Jesus and having the faith of Jesus? I think so. Having faith in Jesus is believing him to be The Son of God, to believing that he died for our sins, to receive him as our Savior. But to have the faith of Jesus is to have that endurance - that steadfastness. I think the faith of Jesus can best be described in Christ's prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, when he prayed 'not my will be done, but thy will be done.' The faith of Jesus is trusting in the goodness of God, not trusting to our own circumstances or our own feelings, but trusting that God is going to do what he's promised he would do. That's the faith of Jesus.

God's people at the end of time need to have this kind of endurance and this persistence, this patience. The next part of the verse says, "for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life." So trials and temptations reveal the quality of our faith, or our love towards God. In Revelation chapter 3 we have Christ's message to the church of laodicea. And one of the things that Jesus says the church needs in the last days is gold. Now what kind of gold? What does Jesus say there in Revelation chapter 3 - it's gold refined in the fire.

Now what is that gold? What is the most precious thing that the Christian can have? Really it's two: it's faith and love. And, of course, the two work together. In order for us to have this endurance in the midst of trials and temptations, we need to have the love of Jesus in our hearts and we need to have faith. Corinthians chapter 13, the apostle Paul says, "and now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three, but the greatest of these is" - what? "Love." That's this gold refined in the fire. That's what gives us strength to stand against the temptations of the enemy.

In Matthew chapter 7:21 Jesus says, "not everyone who says unto me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that does the will of my father in heaven." So in the last days, it's more than just claiming to be a Christian. God is looking for those who are willing to surrender themselves to him - those who have this goal, this faith and love in their hearts - those who are able to stand firm and endure the wrath of the dragon in the final moments of earth's history. Now, of course, there's many illustrations of standing firm and being faithful in the midst of trials and temptations. What old testament character comes to mind when we talk about somebody who endured trials and temptations? We think of job, right? And, indeed, he's a great example for us to follow. Here is a man that is richly blessed by God, but then one day there is this meeting that takes place in heaven and satan shows up at this meeting and he claims to be the representative of earth.

And so, God says to satan, where did you come from? And satan says, 'oh, from walking up and down upon the earth.' And then God says, 'have you considered my servant job?' Now, I've often wondered, why did God even bring job up? After all, after God says, 'have you considered my servant job?' And then satan says, 'well, the reason he serves is because you blessed him with all of these things.' And then all these bad things happen to job. Why did God even mention it? Well, perhaps, here's a reason: satan claimed the earth was his - claimed it to be his kingdom - and, by default, he claimed the people on the earth to be citizens of his kingdom. And God was pointing out to satan that there is someone in his kingdom that really belongs in God's kingdom. Satan says, 'oh, I've come back from walking up and down on the earth - from surveying my kingdom.' And God says, 'oh, by the way, did you notice there's somebody in your kingdom that really belongs in my kingdom? And his name is job.' Satan says, 'oh, the reason he's doing all these things for you is because you blessed him so abundantly.' Well, you remember the story? God allowed these bad things to happen to job: he lost, first of all, his kids and then all of his possessions and still he reMained faithful to God. There was another meeting that takes place in heaven and satan is there again and he's come from walking up and down on the earth and God says, 'well, where have you come from?' And again satan says, 'from going up and down upon the earth.

' And God says, 'well, have you considered my servant job? That even though all of these bad things happened to him, he still remains faithful to me.' What does satan say? Oh, he says, 'flesh for flesh. Yes, but just touch his body; let him get sick. Then he will curse you.' And God says, 'alright, you can touch his body but don't take his life.' And then job gets these terrible boils. Now I've never had a boil before, but I had a friend who had a couple of boils and I know it's very painful and he would tell me how painful these boils are. And here job gets these boils from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot.

He can't stand without pain. He can't sit without pain. He can't even lie down without pain and then, to make things worse, his wife says to him, 'why don't you just curse God and die?' In other words, 'give up.' And then he gets these friends that come and, instead of encouraging job and sympathizing with job, they begin to say, 'job, what's the matter with you? You know, you're hiding something. What sin are you guilty of? And they're there to discourage job even more. And yet, despite all of these things that happen to job, he still remains faithful to God.

Now, he has a lot of questions and he says, 'Lord, I don't know why these things are happening to me.' Finally, God responds to job's questionings - and I like God's response. God doesn't say, 'well, job, you see, there was this meeting in heaven and satan showed up and he made these accusations.' No. Instead, God responds with the words - when he answers job - he says, 'who is this that darkens counsel, speaking words without wisdom?' Gird yourself up like a man and I will demand of you and you answer me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me now if you can.' And then God goes on to talk about his power and his glory and how he sustains all of nature and how he made everything and how that he is in control of all things and, by the time God gets through revealing his goodness and his power and how he sustains all things, job responds and he says, 'I've heard about you with my hearing but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I repent in dust and ashes.

' You see, when job got a glimpse of God's goodness and his power, he began to realize, 'you know what? I don't need to worry about why these things are happening to me. God knows. God's in charge. God's going to take care of me because God made me and he loves me.' Of course, you know how the story ends: God blesses job in an abundant way. Now, you know, it's going to be interesting on the resurrection morning - as far as we know, job never understood why these things really happened to him - but on the resurrection morning, job gets to see the rest of the story.

God explains or will reveal to him what happened. And what an honor, if you stop and think about it, what an honor God bestowed upon job. Here are accusations made against God by satan and God stakes his reputation on one man - on job. And God says, 'no, I know job. He's got that faith, he's got that love, he's got that gold.

He knows me. He can endure whatever comes his way.' And job's experience is a type of the experience of God's people at the end of time. They need to have that same love, that same faith, that same commitment where they are willing to say, 'though he slay me, yet will I trust him.' Complete dependence upon God. Of course, the promise for the redeemed is that they will receive a crown of life. That crown of life is a symbol of everlasting life.

In Revelation chapter 2, we have Christ's message to the church of smyrna. Now chapter 2 and chapter 3 of Revelation talk about seven churches and each of these churches represent different time periods of the Christian era. The church of smyrna represents a time of severe persecution from about 100 to 313 ad. This is a church that was facing persecution from the pagan Romans and Jesus says to the church, Revelation chapter 2, verse 10, he says, "do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison that you might be tested.

" - There's that testing, that trying - "and you will have tribulation ten days." Now, those ten days - one prophetic day is equal to one literal year. That represents the time period from about 303 to 313 ad - a time period of severe persecution that came against the Christians. But then the verse ends with a promise. Jesus says, "but be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life." There's that promise. If we hold on and we trust in God, we have the promise of him giving us eternal life, symbolized by that crown of glory.

Well, let's take a look now at verse 13 - James chapter 1, verse 13, thank you darren. "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." So James wants us to understand that temptation does not come from God. God does not take pleasure in seeing his children suffer. Actually, it was a pagan idea. The pagans believed that the Gods would bring temptation upon people in order to watch them suffer.

And James is making it very clear: temptation doesn't find its source in God. Don't say, when you face trials and difficulties, 'well, God is bringing this upon me.' Matter of fact, that idea of blaming God for temptation finds its cause or its root way back in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. You read in Genesis chapter 3, verse 12, - this is after the fall of adam and eve - the Lord came looking for them and when the Lord found them God said to adam and eve, 'have you eaten of the tree that I told you not to eat of? And then adam responds, in Genesis chapter 1, verse 12, then the man said, 'the woman, whom you gave me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat.' So who is adam blaming? He's blaming God - well, he's blaming eve but he's also blaming God. He's saying, 'why did you give me this woman that gave me the fruit and I ate?' And, of course, verse 13, "and the Lord said to the woman, 'what is this that you have done?' And the woman said, 'the serpent deceived me and I ate.'" In other words, why did you allow the serpent in the garden?' So here we find at the very beginning, after the fall, man begins to blame God for temptation. James wants to set the record straight and he says, 'temptation doesn't come from God.

' And then he goes on and he says, "for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone." Now, it is true, God does permit us to face trials and temptations, but he is not the source of these temptations. In Luke chapter 13, verse 16, we read Jesus, speaking to the Jewish leaders, when the Jewish leaders were accusing Christ of breaking the Sabbath - Christ never broke the Sabbath but he had set aside their man-made traditions because he was healing people on the Sabbath, so they accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath because he healed this woman on the Sabbath. And Jesus, responding to them, he says, "and ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom satan has bound lo these 18 years, be loosed from her bond on the Sabbath day." So Jesus makes it clear that disease and suffering comes from satan - comes from the devil. He's the one that bound this woman with this disease for these 18 years. In the book 'desires of ages' page 471, we have this statement: "suffering is inflicted by satan, but it is overruled by God for purposes of mercy.

So satan is really the source of suffering. In Matthew chapter 6, verse 13, in the Lord's prayer we pray, "and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil." You see, God can't be the source of temptation if he's leading us away from temptation. He will give us wisdom and guidance and strength to see the devil coming with his temptations and lead us away. Now let me share with you a couple of tips for resisting temptation. And I'm going to refer to this little book over here, 'tips for resisting temptation' and I'm going to just go through a couple of these key points.

So if you don't have time to write it down, you might want to go to the website and you'll be able to read the book with some additional information on that but tip #1, remember the reward. Remember what James said when you face trials and temptations? 'If you endure you will receive' what? 'A crown of life.' So when we face trials and temptations, let's remember the reward. God has promised a reward to those who trust in him. Those who endure. Secondly, believing the badness of sin.

You know, we don't quite understand how bad sin is until we look to calvary. And when we understand what sin did to Jesus - what sin cost God, then we begin to realize, 'Lord, I don't want anything to do with this.' I don't want anything that brought pain and suffering to the heart of Jesus. Point number 3 - a very practical point here - 'don't love money.' The Bible tells us that the love of money is what? The root of all evil. So right from the get-go, we need to recognize that that is a human weakness that the devil is going to try and use against us. So rather let our love be towards God and our fellow man verses the love of money.

Number 4, get ready to flee. Realize that the devil is going to come against us at a time when we least expect it or maybe when we're at a weak point. You know, I was just flying up from southern California this weekend and, when you get on the plane and you take your seat and just before the plane takes off a flight attendant will go through the various, you know, things about putting up your tray and there's the life jacket and so on. And, typically, they usually say, 'look around you and find the closest exit in case of emergency.' I always do. I always look around, 'well, where is that exit?' Just in case something goes wrong I want to make sure I'm the first one by the exit.

I want to get out. Well, you know, as Christians, we need to know where the exit is. We need to be ready for the temptations of the devil. We need to have a plan that we can, you know, run to the Lord or come up with a verse of Scripture that we can quote when those temptations come our way. Point #5 it says, "don't follow the crowd.

" Just because the majority is doing it doesn't mean it's right. Of course, at the time of Jesus, the majority was wrong. Even in the religious community the majority was wrong. Another important point - point #6 plan to stay busy. I remember as a kid my parents would often say to me, 'the devil finds work for idle hands.

' Have you heard that before? So we need to stay busy. Stay busy doing the right things. Stay busy doing the things God is asking us to do. #7 - Have a plan. So before temptation comes your way, you want to have a plan in place.

Of course, where are we to go when the devil comes to us as a roaring lion? Who is our defense? We need to run to Jesus. The power to resist temptation is found in prayer. A soul that is humbly praying, surrendering to God, cannot be overcome by the devil. The question is sometimes we don't feel like praying and then we need to pray even more, right? Ask God for strength. And then, know yourself.

Recognize your strengths and your weaknesses. The devil will use our weaknesses against us. Overcome evil with good. Again, I think the power of God's Word is so important here - the power of being able to quote Scripture. The Scripture says, 'thy word have I hid in my heart that I should' what? 'Not sin against you.

' So when those temptations come we start filling our minds with the word of God. That is our defense against those temptations. 'Care for your health' - point #10 - very practical. You know, when we're feeling down and we're feeling sick then, of course, the devil is going to try and take advantage of that. So do everything we can to keep ourselves in good health.

Point #11: 'recognize your escape' - recognize that your hope is in Jesus because he's the one that can come to your deliverance. And then point #12 'learn how to survive a fall.' We do fall. We make mistakes. But don't give up. The Bible says that he is able to keep us from falling but if we do fall we have an advocate with The Father, Jesus Christ.

And we can come to him, we can confess our sins and we can make that commitment once again - to follow God and do those things that we know to be right. So take a look at the book - I think you'll enjoy it - 'tips for resisting temptation' it's some very good, practical information. Alright, let's take a look at verse 14. "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." Alright, thank you. So now James, who told us that temptation doesn't come from God, is now showing us where temptation actually comes from and he's pointing out that temptation doesn't come from without as much as it comes from within.

He says, 'we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed.' As a fish is enticed by a worm on a hook, so the human heart is enticed by sin. I remember on one occasion I had a friend who took me fishing and we were up in the water separating Canada from the United States on the east coast - beautiful place to go fish - and he had a boat and we went out and he said, 'I've fished this area, I know where the fish bite.' And then he said, 'the fish over here, they like these worms so much' - and he had this little box with worms that he pulled out and put on the hooks. He said, 'these fish here like these worms so much that you won't believe what they're going to do.' So he took a whole lot of fishing hooks and he put one next to another next to another - about five, six, seven of these fishing hooks on the same line and then he took his worms and he put them on all the hooks and he said, 'you'd think the one fish would learn from the other fish but,' he says, 'watch this.' And then he gave me the fishing rod and I threw it out into the water and he started the boat and he just started moving the boat just a little ways and, you know, I - the hook barely hit the water it seemed and suddenly I felt a tug on the hook and I said, 'oh, I think I got one!' He said, 'don't pull it in yet! Don't pull it in yet! Wait! Wait!' And I just held on and next minute I felt another tug and another tug and another tug. Finally he said, 'alright, I think it's time. You can pull it in.

' And I reeled it in and what do you know? There's about four or five fish on the same line. They each went for the worm. And you'd think, 'well, why didn't they learn from the other?' Well, you know, that's just the way it is with sin. You'd think people would learn from the experience of others. And, by the way, that's why we have, in the Scriptures, these stories about people in the old testament - also in the new - the purpose of that is for us to learn from their experience so we don't repeat the same mistake.

So the source of sin, to a large degree, has to do with our attitude - our heart. True victory over sin involves a change of heart. That's why we have the new covenant promise. Ezekiel chapter 36, verse 26 God says, "I will give you" - a what? - "A new heart. I'll put a new spirit within you.

" Luke chapter 6, verse 45, Jesus says, "a good man, out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth that which is good and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth that which is evil." Now when we think about sin, the Bible describes sin with three words. You have the word sin, which literally means 'to miss the Mark' or 'to fall short of the standard.' So God's got an ideal for us and when we fall short of that standard - we miss the Mark - we're guilty of sin. Another word that we find in Scripture with reference to sin is the word 'transgression' and transgression that's fairly obvious. That's breaking God's commandments. We know that sin is the transgression of the law.

And then there is a third word, the word 'iniquity.' Now this is an interesting word. The root for the word iniquity means 'a bent towards self' and it comes from the name given to the shepherd's staff that turns back towards itself - sort of pointing back to self - sort of the root for the meaning of the word 'iniquity.' It's really selfishness. That's, sort of, the cause and God doesn't just want to take care of the external in our lives, he wants to deal with the cause. He wants to deal with the heart. That's why the new covenant promises a change of heart.

Sometimes it takes us a while to learn this important lesson - that we need a change of heart. You know, one of the disciples that took awhile to learn this was Simon Peter. Now, Peter was somebody that had strength. He had strength of leadership - whenever the disciples are listed in Scripture, Peter's name is always listed first. He was one of the inner circle of disciples that got to share some very special experiences with Jesus.

They were there when Jesus raised the little girl, twelve years of age, back to life. They were with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration. You have Peter, James, and John that were separated from the other disciples in the garden of Gethsemane and Jesus said, 'come pray with me.' So he had a lot of good leadership qualities. He also had strength of spirit. Peter was the spokesman in the group.

Sometimes he would say good things, like the time Jesus asked the disciples 'who do men say that I am?' And they said, 'well, some say that you are John the baptist. Others say that you are Elijah. Some say that you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.' And then Jesus says, 'but who do you say I am?' And immediately Peter said, 'you are the Christ. The Son of the living God.' And then Jesus said, 'flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father which is in heaven.' So he gave the right answer. But there were other times where Peter said things that he probably should not have said.

On the mount of transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, Peter, filled with fear, not quite knowing what to say - he said, 'Lord, it's good for us to be here because now we can build three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' And there was a cloud that overshadowed the disciples and God said to Peter, 'this is my beloved son. Hear him.' In other words Peter, don't talk right now, just be quiet. Not a good time to talk.' And then, of course, in the storm on the boat, Peter sees Jesus walking on the water and Peter says, 'Lord, if it's you, call me. I want to come walking to you on the water.' I don't know where Peter got that idea from but nevertheless, the Lord said 'come' and Peter walked on water. So Peter had a lot of good leadership qualities.

He also had strength of body. He was a fisherman and he was used to rowing boats and pulling in nets. Yet, in spite of all of these good qualities, we find Peter denying Jesus three times, even after he makes the promise - he says, 'Lord, I'm ready to go with you to prison and in death.' But when it really mattered he said, 'I don't know him.' You see, satan is very good at using our weaknesses against us. Peter was strong when his friends were around, but he was weak when he was alone. And so it is with us.

You know, it's easy to be a Christian when you come to church and you're fellowshipping with other Christians, but what about when we're alone or when we're not surrounded by Christians? What is our attitude? Are we still being faithful to God? Are we trusting in him? Corinthians chapter 10, verse says, "therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Ephesians chapter 6, verse 12 says, "for we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. And so we need to recognize that we do have an adversary and we need to be surrendering ourselves to Christ. James chapter 4, verse 7 says, "therefore submit to God, resist the devil" - and what will he do? - He will flee from us. Sometimes that takes quite a bit of work - resisting and surrendering.

Of course, true resisting comes after we submit to God and we say, 'alright, Lord, I will do what you ask me to do.' And that comes from trust - trusting that God knows what is best for us. Trusting him with all of our heart. Well, let's take a look at verse . Who's got verse 15 for us? Thank you. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.

" This is a sobering verse. It says, 'desire is conceived, then it gives birth to sin. Sin will ultimately lead to death. You see, sin, if cherished in the heart, will eventually harden our hearts against the Holy Spirit. The Bible speaks of that as the unpardonable sin.

In Matthew chapter 12, verse 31, Jesus said, 'therefore, I say unto you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men. But the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven men.' Now, what do you suppose it means when he says 'blasphemy against the Spirit?' In the Bible, what does the word 'blasphemy' mean? How is it defined? Well, you remember they accused Jesus of blasphemy because he forgave people their sins, right? And they also accused Jesus of blasphemy because he claimed to be equal with God. So Jesus says, 'every sin can be forgiven but the sin of blasphemy against the holy spirit.' Well, what is the work of the Holy Spirit? Jesus said in John 16, verse 8, "but when he comes" - speaking of the Spirit - "he will convince the world" - or convict the world - "of sin, righteousness, and judgment." So the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict us as to what is right and what is wrong. But when we commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, we're putting ourselves in the place of the Holy Spirit. We're saying, 'well, we don't need God, through His Word, to reveal to us what is right and wrong, but we can rely upon our own wisdom.

' Okay, trying to put ourselves in the place of God. It's also excusing sin and that's the definition of blasphemy. 'Well, that's not that big of a deal. God doesn't care. I can always ask for forgiveness.

' If we keep hardening our hearts through blasphemy against the Holy Spirit - Jesus warns us because if the Spirit can't reach us - the Bible tells us that it's the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Without repentance we can't have forgiveness, but if we've hardened our hearts against the Holy Spirit, how do we come to the point of genuine repentance? That's blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. A number of years ago I worked as a camp pastor for some youth camps and they had various activities that they would do. One of the activities that the young people liked to do - there was a little shack and they called it the ceramics shack and people would go down there and there would be these big tubs with powdered clay and they would add the clay to the water and they would mix it up and you would have liquid clay and then the young people would pick out a mold - these plastic molds and then they would pour this clay mixture into these molds and then they would set it over there and they would just wait for it to harden. Now, of course, young people, being young people, often they would choose a mold and - mickey mouse or whatever it is - and they would pour it in.

After awhile they'd look at their friends and, you know, they got a pony and they - 'oh, I don't want this anymore. I want what he has.' Now, depending upon how long the clay had been in that mold, even if it started to harden just a little bit, it was possible to peel off the mold, take the clay and put it in a container and then add some water and kind of crush it a little bit and mix it and then it would go back to that watery consistency. But after a certain period of time of the clay being in the mold, it would harden and even if you added the water or tried to break it, it would stay lumpy. It wouldn't dissolve. You couldn't use it again.

And the Bible warns us - it says, 'don't let the world squeeze you. Don't be conformed to this world. Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold.' Now, of course, the devil is doing everything he can to squeeze people into his mold. Now, James tells us, in verse 16 - why don't you read verses 16 and 17, allen? "Do not err my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

" You know why I like verse 16? James is so emphatic he says, 'do not be deceived.' He wants us to understand the source of temptation. He feels like it's important for us to realize that temptation doesn't come from God but it comes from our own selfish inclinations and selfish desires. Of course, the devil plays up on that. Now we need to understand that when it comes to a human being, we are comprised of these three areas: you've got the mind, which symbolizes the will - very important - the will and the thoughts. We can control our thoughts - that's very important - and the will.

Then you've got the heart. The heart can symbolize desires and feelings. And then, of course, you've got the flesh or the body. So when a temptation comes our way and even though the feelings might be contrary to the will of God, we still have the freedom to exercise the will, that is, the power of choice. It's very important for us to realize that sometimes we feel as though, you know, there's just nothing we can do against temptation.

The devil is too big for us. There's no hope for us. No, God has given us the will, the power of choice. When we exercise our will - when we choose to redirect our thoughts, that enables God, through his spirit, to strengthen us, to give us courage, to stand against temptation. So everything depends upon the right action of the will - the power of choice.

I like this statement - you find it in 'steps to Christ' page 47. It says, 'everything depends on the right action of the will.' And then it's defined: "the power of choice God has given to man. It is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart. You cannot, of yourself, give to God of its affections, but you can choose to serve him.

You can give him your will. He will then work in you to will and to do according to his good pleasure. Thus, your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ. Your affections will be centered upon him. Your thoughts will be in harmony with his thoughts.

So we can't change ourselves but we can choose to be changed, right? By changing our thoughts, by changing our attitude, by resisting temptation, and humbling ourselves and following God's way. You know, I'm reminded of a story of a little boy who had a neighbor and the neighbor had some toys in the backyard. And the little boy loved to climb through this hole in the fence and go play with the neighbor's toys. Well, the neighbors weren't that excited about having this little boy over in their yard all the time playing with the toys and so they spoke to the little boy's mom and one day mom called Johnny and said, 'you know Johnny, we can't have you climbing through that hole in the fence and playing with the neighbor's toys.' And Johnny was, of course, just disappointed about this and thought about it for awhile and he said, 'well, alright mom, I won't do it anymore.' A little while later mom was busy washing the dishes and she looked out of the window and, sure enough, where do you suppose Johnny is? He's in the neighbor's yard playing with the toys. She goes outside, she calls him.

Johnny comes and he squeezes through the hole in the fence and he stands there in front of his mother and his mother said, 'Johnny, I thought I told you you shouldn't be going over there and playing with the toys.' And Johnny thought about it and he said, 'well, mom, the devil made me do it.' And his mother said, 'oh, the devil made you do it, huh?' 'Yeah, the devil made me do it.' She goes, 'well, I'll tell you what, next time the devil tempts you to go next door, you just tell him to get behind you.' Johnny thought about it for awhile - 'okay, mom.' Half an hour later mom's busy working in the kitchen, she looks out of the window and what do you know? There Johnny is in the neighbor's yard again. Now she's getting a little bit frustrated - a little bit upset with Johnny and she calls him, 'Johnny, you get over here right now!' Johnny comes, crawls through the hole in the fence and he stands in front of his mother. His mother said, 'Johnny, I told you not to go over to the neighbor's yard.' And he said, 'well, mom, I know. I know.' 'Didn't I tell you what to say?' 'Yeah, I told the devil 'get behind me.'' The mother said, 'and?' 'Well then he pushed me through the hole in the fence. It's not my fault!' He said 'the devil made me do it.

' Well the good news is that the devil can't force us to do that which is wrong, right? He can tempt us but the power of choice God has given to us. We can use it. We can choose to serve God. Well, let's take a look at verse 17 - James chapter 1, verse 17 - or verse 18, sorry. "Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

" Alright now, James is shifting gears here just a little bit. He's spoken about the source of temptation. He's also told us that victory is found in Jesus. We can submit to God, you know, the devil will flee from us - he says that in James chapter 4 - but now he's shifting gears and he's directing our attention to where we can find strength and help in our time of need. And he begins by saying 'we are brought forth of God by His Word that we should be a kind of firstfruits unto God.

' Sometimes God's will is not the same as our will and we need to learn to trust in the will of God. It's easy for us to kind of look at things from human perspective and think, 'well, Lord, this doesn't sound like a good idea' or 'I don't know' but we need to recognize God is looking at things from an eternal perspective. God's ultimate purpose for our lives is for us to be in the kingdom. So God'll allow circumstances to come our way because he's shaping us. He's molding us.

He wants us with him in heaven and we want to trust in God's dealing. Sometimes you can't always see God's hand leading in a particular situation. In that case, just trust his heart. That's why having this love for God and this faith in God is so important. That's what carries us through those dark moments where we're asking, 'Lord, where are you?' 'Why are you allowing this to happen to me?' We can trust in God because he loves us.

And then, also, James tells us the source of strength is in the word of truth. As children resemble their parents, so true Christians will grow up to reflect the character of their Heavenly Father and Jesus wants us to reflect his character. The purpose of salvation is really not just to save us, the purpose of salvation is to restore the image of God in man. Genesis chapter 1, verse 26 it says, speaking of God, "let us make man in our image according to our likeness." So the image of God in which adam and eve were originally created was marred because of sin. The purpose of salvation, the plan of redemption, is to restore the image of God in man.

Why? Why is it so important to God that his image be restored in us? Because God knows that our true purpose and joy in life can only be found in being what God originally destined us to be: created in his image. So the purpose of salvation is to recreate the image of God in man. And then the verse goes on and says that we should be some kind of firstfruits to God. Now this is an interesting phrase, this 'firstfruits.' The idea behind firstfruits is if the first fruits are good, you can expect that the harvest will be good as well, given enough time. So what God wants us to do is to grow spiritually in reflecting the character of Jesus and then he talks about us being firstfruits to God.

Now Revelation chapter , from verses 1 through 4, talks about a group of people who will be alive when Jesus comes the second time. We refer to this group by the name of 144,000. It says that they had their father's name written in their foreheads. Quite significant to have The Father's name written in the forehead - that is to reflect the thoughts of The Father. That is to have the character of Jesus.

And of this group, in verse 4 it says, "these were redeemed from among men being the firstfruits to God and to the lamb." In other words, before Jesus comes he will have a group of people who are so surrendered to Christ that the Spirit of God is able to transform their characters so they reflect the character of Jesus. We know that before Jesus comes, according to Daniel chapter 12, verse 1 and also Revelation chapter 22, that there is what we call the close of probation where Jesus finishes his work as our high priest and he removes his priestly robe and he puts on his kingly robe and then he comes back as king of Kings and Lord of Lords. And God is looking for a group of people who are so filled with love for him, so surrendered to him, that they become complete reflections of his goodness at a time when the world is just dark with the misapprehension of God's character. When the world is filled with sin, here God has a group of people who love him supremely, who are fully surrendered to him and they are these firstfruits unto God. They have allowed the Spirit of God to transform them and make them what God wants them to be.

Well, let's look at verse 19. Who's got verse 19 for us? "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath." Alright, so James tells us that we need to be eager to hear the Word of God. As Christians we want to hear the word of truth. We recognize that our connection with God is dependent upon us feasting upon the word. Jesus said, 'man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

' And then Jesus said, to those who were listening to him, 'except you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.' Now this was a hard thing even for the disciples and there were many people that turned and left Jesus. And then Jesus said to the disciples, 'are you also going to leave?' And they said, 'well, Lord, where are we going to go? You have the words of truth.' But this was a hard saying. And then Jesus explained what he meant. He said, 'the flesh profits nothing but the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.' To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Jesus is to receive His Word - to make it a part of ours. Jeremiah chapter 15, verse 16 says, "thy words were found and I did eat them and they were unto me the joy and the rejoicing of my heart.

" And then James also tells us that we need to be slow to speak and slow to wrath or slow to anger. Proverbs chapter 16, verse 32 says, "he who is slow to anger is better than the mighty and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." Above all others, Christians should be able to control their tempers. Let's take a look at verse 20. Who's got verse 20 for us? "For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." Now, the wrath of God or rather, the wrath of man here, can also be translated as 'outbursts of anger.' These outbursts of anger don't work towards righteousness but work towards unrighteousness. You see, the character of God cannot be reflected in an angry person because God's not angry.

God is love. In the book 'Gospel workers' page 122 we read this: "a kind, courteous Christian is the most powerful argument that can be produced in favor of Christianity." A loving, lovable Christian. You know, I remember an experience that happened - my dad's a pastor and there was a wonderful old lady in the church that loved the Lord. She came to church so regular, but her husband was just a rascal. He would give her the hardest time he could.

He'd make fun of her religion and she'd go to church and he'd say, 'well, now, you pray for me. Pray for me I'm a sinner.' And he'd bring his friends over and they would drink and just - but his wife was so kind and so caring and so gentle. She kept praying for him. She kept witnessing. Well, one day the Holy Spirit got through to him and touched his heart and he was interested in studying more about the Bible.

So my dad came and had Bible studies and the man grew in his relationship with the Lord and finally made that commitment he wanted to be baptized. And I remember the day of the baptism. My father was in the baptistery with this man and he was just about ready to baptize the man and the man stopped and said, 'pastor, can I just say a few words?' And my father said, 'sure.' And he turned to the congregation and there's his wife sitting and she's just beaming from ear to ear and he says, 'friends, I want you to know' - he says - 'I have been a terrible husband.' - He says - 'I gave my wife such a hard time. I mocked her religion. I made fun of her.

I tried to make her life as hard as I could but she was always so kind, so loving, I saw Jesus in my wife and I just couldn't resist it and I finally gave in.' Beautiful experience. He was baptized and just a few months later he died. And yet, she had hope. She lived the life of a Christian. She revealed the love of Christ and it wasn't in vain.

She's looking forward to seeing him in heaven when Jesus comes again. The redeemed get to be with him forever. Let's take a look at our last verse, verse 21. Who's got that for us? James 1:21. "Therefore, lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word which is able to save your souls.

" You know, here James talks about the word being as a seed and that that word of truth is able to save the soul. Often in Scripture the Gospel is likened unto a seed - a seed planted in the soil. Now the soil can't produce the seed, but it can receive the seed. So it is with our hearts. We can't change our hearts but we can receive the seed of the Word of God that does change our heart.

We can surrender ourselves to Jesus every day and allow the Lord to work within us. You know, the promise is that the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest in our life if we surrender ourselves to Jesus. What is the fruit of the Spirit? It is love and joy and peace and longsuffering and kindness and goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. How can we have the fruit of the spirit in our lives? Jesus tells us in John 15, verses 4 and 5, "abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except that it abide in the vine, no more can you except you abide in me.

He that abides in me" - Jesus says - "and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit for without me you can do nothing." The key to living a victorious Christian life is abiding in Jesus moment by moment, day by day. Now you might wonder, 'well, how do we abide in Jesus from a very practical standpoint?' Let me close by sharing this statement from the book 'mind, character, and personality' page - listen to this: "evil thoughts destroy the soul. The converting power of God changes the heart, refining and purifying the thoughts. Unless a determined effort is made to keep the thoughts centered on Christ, grace cannot reveal itself in the life. The mind must be engaged in spiritual warfare.

Every thought must be brought into the captivity to obedience of Christ." So there's the key. Choosing carefully what we think about. Turning the thoughts towards God. Filling our mind with the word of God - that is going to be the source of strength that when temptation comes our way we can cry out to Jesus and he will come to our deliverance. You know, Jesus gives us words of comfort and hope.

He says, 'fear not, for I have overcome the world.' He's already won the victory and we can, by faith, receive the victory that he wants to give us. Is that your desire today - saying, 'Lord, give me the victory?' Amen. Let us close with prayer. Dear Father, we thank you for Your Word. We thank you for these verses in James that give us practical advice and guidance as to how we can be successful, overcoming Christians.

Lord, we recognize that the secret of success depends upon us abiding in you. All power is given unto you. You're able to do all things. Father, give us faith and love to trust in you in every situation. And Lord, we have confidence that you will finish the good work that you started in us.

Thank you, Lord, for hearing our prayer. In Jesus' Name, amen. Again, those of us - those of you who are joining us, we'd like to remind you about the book that we have today, 'tips for resisting temptation.' If you'd like to read it, go to the website 'amazingfacts.org' and if you'd like to receive your own book, call us at -788-3966 and you can ask for offer #708. May God bless you. Spanning the timeline of human history God has provided prophetic landmarks signaling that his coming is near.

Are you ready for the next big leap in Bible prophecy? Join Pastor Doug Batchelor as he presents 'landmarks of prophecy.' A live, 20-part Bible series beginning October 31st from albuquerque, New Mexico. To learn more, visit 'landmarksofprophecy.com.' Amazing Facts. Changed lives. I couldn't understand just buying any kind of drugs just to do for myself because it just made sense to invest it in something else and then I could make all the money back and have weed that I could smoke for free. I was having a lot of fun - at least at first.

I was making more money than anybody that I knew. I've got, you know, pounds and pounds of weed in the closet. I've got a beautiful fully furnished apartment, a chandelier hanging in my living room. I've got a luxury car - all leather interior. I've got the hottest girlfriend.

I have every single thing that this world tells me that I need and that's when I realized how empty I really was. Eventually smoking weed didn't do it anymore. I started going to doing a lot of acid - lsd - and ecstasy. Of course, other hard drugs came into the picture. I found out that you can't run away from yourself and no matter where you go, there you are.

It was very difficult to reconcile a faith in God and then this lifestyle that I was choosing to lead. And, at this point, I had made that choice to lead that lifestyle but I couldn't reverse it. Even though I wanted to stop or at least slow down, I had no power. I said, 'God, do whatever it is you've got to do to change me.' I get arrested for a dui. I'd been to jail many times before but I used to think that the reason that I went to jail is because God was sick of me - that God hated me.

There I am in jail and I'm starting to see the fact that God loves me. To know the emptiness of this world, to know that this life really stinks, but there's hope and the hope that I found can only be seen or known in Christ Jesus. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, 'Biblehistory.com' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's Word.

Go deeper. Visit the amazing Bible timeline at 'Biblehistory.com'.

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