"Crown of Life or Death?"
Why do you seek to resist temptation? What is your reason for walking in the pathway of righteousness? As a Christian, we know about eternity - both the crown of life and the eternal separation called the second death. That's a motivator.
Crown of Life or Death
A. He is God. He was man. He came in the flesh and dwelt among us. He came to his own, but his own did not receive him. The human life of Jesus is one that we try to understand. The reason is because while we accept that Jesus existed as God before becoming flesh, his fleshly side helps us to understand God. But does Jesus really know what life for me is like?
B. The Hebrew writer seemed to understand that people would question who Jesus was and what it would mean for God to become man. So he gives us something to think about, some information to help us understand why Jesus came in the flesh.
C. READ Heb. 2:14-18. The reason Jesus came in the flesh was to destroy the sin that destroyed my relationship with God. Jesus conquered death so that I might live with him for eternity. But in doing all that in the flesh, he lived just like every other human being. He had all the same issues and desires that any other man would have, yet he did not fall to the temptations that were put before him. Instead, Jesus remained perfect and sinless but not for a lack of Satan trying to destroy him.
I. Even Jesus was Tempted
A. The ministry of Jesus began at his baptism when he was 30 years old. But the Bible tells us that Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted. There, Jesus endured a 40 day fast and we get a glimpse of what happened at the end. Jesus is hungry and the devil comes to tempt him.
B. Three times the devil attacked Jesus. He tempted Jesus with turning a stone into bread. Really it was temptation to not trust God to meet his needs since the fast was a planned spiritual discipline. Jesus responded by quoting scripture, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone.”
C. Then Satan tempted him test scripture and jump of a high part of the temple to prove the word of God was true that said the angles would guard him. Again Jesus responded, “It is written, do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
D. Then Satan took him and showed him the kingdoms of world. “Bow down and I will give them all to you!” Again, Jesus responded, “It is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” (Matt. 4:1-11)
E. My point is that you and I need to realize that Jesus became flesh and was tempted just like you and me. The difference is, Jesus stayed true to God. He leaned upon and relied upon God’s word for guidance in times of temptation. He did not succumb to the fleshly desires, but gave himself over to the one who could and did save him.
F. James wants you to know a truth that Satan wants you to forget – you don’t have to open the door when temptation knocks. You don’t have to fall down when temptation strikes. You can endure and receive far more from God than the small pleasure sin offers for a season.
II. Crown of Life
A. READ James 1:12. You want to find inner joy? You want to feel the fullness of God’s blessing? Then stand strong when the trials and temptations come your way. There is a crown that I want to wear. It is the crown of life. I want to live in my Father’s house forever. I desire his love more than Satan’s lies. I can have it that crown.
B. READ 2 Cor. 10:3-5. Take every thought captive. Demolish the strongholds. You can have the crown of life. But you have to take the fight deep within you, back to the root, the very desire that began this temptation and fight it there. A person does not just sin, they think about it first. In fact, we plan it, prepare for it and even enjoy the process of bringing it about, but you don’t have to fall. Fight brethren, fight!
C. Paul understood the struggle. In Rom. 7 he cries out that the struggle is within and so often he fails. He asks, “O wretched man that I am, who can save me from this body of sin and death?” His answer, “Thanks be to God who give us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He calls upon Christians to “be transformed by the renewing of the mind.” He tells us to “keep in step with the Spirit.” The battle for the mind is the battle for the soul. Fight and win.
III. The Process of Temptation
A. James says that temptation is a process. Listen again to our text (READ James 1:13-15). The first step in the wrong direction is the “blame game.” “If you only you just…then I wouldn’t…” “You make me so mad I just had to…” or “It’s not my fault, I was simply caught in the middle. What was I to do? Really, you wouldn’t have done any different than I did.” We rationalize our sinful actions, we blame someone for our behavior or we simply seek to make it of no effect. But the truth is we refuse to accept personal accountability for our own thoughts and actions.
B. James says, “When tempted, no one should say, God is tempting me.” When God asked Adam “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Adam’s responded, “The woman you put here with me.” Stop right there. That is Adam blaming God for the temptation. Just because God allows temptation does not mean that he is inducing you to sin. In fact, just the opposite, he looks for you to succeed. C. The pathway of sin starts within me. I can’t blame God. Satan know what entices man. And he works deep within us because his goal is my spiritual death.
A. I am so thankful God has given us as Christians His Holy Spirit. He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world. I succeed when I realize one truth, I need God. Let the words of this prayer be yours and if we can strengthen you with our prayers, come as we stand and sing.