Verse of the Day Devotion: James 1:14
“But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” – James 1:14
There is one thing that every Christian deals with, and that is temptation. Even Jesus, during His time on earth, dealt with it. “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:15. Satan tempted Him just as he tempts us. However, He never succumbed to the temptation. He never sinned.
It is important to understand that sin is not something that has its origin outside of us. Back to the temptations Christ endured, He did not sin because He desired to stay pure and true. In the three recorded temptations, all Satan did was bring up what Jesus could do: turning stones to bread, testing His Father that He would catch Him if He jumped from a high place, offering the whole world if He worshipped him. Being tempted is not the issue. Giving in to temptations is. Jesus gives them a teaching on this. “there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man.” Mark 7:15. The disciples did not understand what He meant, so they questioned Him about it. “And He said to them, Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.” Mark 7:18-20. What goes in doesn’t defile us, for it goes into the stomach and then is eliminated. In other words, eating does not cause us to sin. What can cause us to sin is what comes from the heart. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Mark 7:21-23.
Back to our focus verse. “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” James 1:14. We are tempted when we are enticed by our own bad desires. As an example, I cannot be tempted to eat Okra. I do not like it no matter how it is cooked. However, I can be tempted to eat chocolate ice cream, for it is my favorite flavor. In the same way, we can be tempted to act in ways that are ungodly if we desire and lust after those things. James then goes on with, “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:15. If we allow a temptation to take hold, we will probably give into to it, acting it out.
So what do we do when temptation comes our way? First, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12. We should not stay where we are tempted, whether it is by actions, or by thoughts. Be on your guard that you do not give in. “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41. We may not want to sin, but sometimes we will give in and fall. This is why we need to flee it when we see it. We need to do what we must in order to avoid temptation. If we tend to get drunk if we drink, then we should stay away from alcohol. If certain places give us bad thoughts, stay away from there. It is better to avoid temptation itself then to fall into it.
Lastly, we must understand that God does not leave us alone regarding temptation. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13. We are not tempted in ways others are not, so we are not alone. God is faithful. He will not allow temptation that we cannot resist. If He allows the temptation, He will provide the means to resist it, so that we can endure and overcome. We need to submit to God when temptations come. “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. We must submit to His will and avoid those things which are not. Remember, it is our own desires and lusts that tempt us. The enemy just brings it to our mind.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.