“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.” (James 1:12, NKJV)
Endurance is essential to resisting the temptations of sin. Our adversary, the devil, continually probes for openings and opportunities to entice us not to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; to sin against God (Mk. 12:30). Endurance is spiritual, mental, and emotional fortitude that perseveres through the moment of trial. James reminds us of some reasons why we endure temptations. 1) Because endurance brings God’s approval. The trials of life test our faith, and the devil seeks to exploit them. When we endure them, our faith grows stronger and has God’s approval (Jas. 1:3-4). 2) Because God has promised us a reward. The crown of life is promised to those who finish the course and keep the faith, not those who shrink back (2 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 10:36-39). God will keep His word to us; We must keep our word to Him. 3) Because we love God. God has promised eternal life “to those who love Him.” We express our love for God over a love of this world when we endure temptation and do God’s will (1 Jno. 2:15-17). Endurance means committing ourselves to love God with more than words, but also with our deeds (Jno. 14:15; 1 Jno. 3:16-19). Enduring temptations is not easy but possible. God gives us a means of escape, that we “may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13, ESV).
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7–8, NKJV)
When people foolishly “mock at sin,” they mock God (Prov. 14:9). If we can learn anything from the Scriptures, it is that God created us with free will and with the accountability that comes with our free will choices. From Adam and Eve (“in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” Gen. 2:17) to this moment, human beings make choices. Sin’s temptation offers immediate, albeit empty, satisfaction (Heb. 11:25). One aspect of sin’s deception is that it comes without effects and accountability. When we choose to yield to sin’s temptation, we deceive ourselves into ignoring our responsibility to God Almighty. Each day we are sowing seeds by our choices of attitudes and actions. Ultimately, our choices will be judged, with eternal outcomes (2 Cor. 5:10). We must choose to abhor evil and love good (Rom. 12:9). God will not be mocked.
It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1, NKJV)
Today’s verse introduces the record of king David’s sins of adultery, deception, and murder. It contains lessons that help protect us from spiritual danger – if we will heed the warnings. 1) David was not where he should have been. Where we are matters. Instead of leading his army into battle against the Ammonite enemy, he remained in Jerusalem while his general and servants took his army into battle. The obvious lesson is go where you ought to be, and avoid places of temptation (Eph. 5:15). 2) David was not at Rabbah when he should have been there. When we are where we are matters. Winter was over, spring has arrived, and David should have been besieging Rabbah. When we do not redeem our time to accomplish God’s will, we expose ourselves to temptations of neglect, waste, and worldliness (Eph. 5:16). 3) David was doing what he should not have been doing. What we are doing matters. Remaining in Jerusalem was comfortable, and more convenient than being encamped on the battlefield, but the cost was great. Putting personal comfort ahead of duty tempts us with selfish desires and the allurements of sin (Jas. 1:14). Avoid sin by being where you should be, when you should be there, doing what you ought to do.
38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:38–41, NKJV)
Our faith is strengthened by the example of Jesus in the hour of His temptation at Gethsemane. Our attention is drawn to the sharp contrast between His watchful prayers of singular devotion to the Father’s will, and the sleep that overcame His apostles. We must remain watchful in the moments of temptation, vigilant in prayer to see and to resist sin’s enticements. Our task is to combine a willing spirit with an obedient body. Resisting temptation involves recognizing the spiritual danger, plus activity fleeing from its allurement (Jas. 1:14; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Tim. 2:22). By relying on the Lord’s strength, we can avoid entering the door of temptation that leads to sin and death (Jas. 1:14-15). May our prayer ever be, “Our Father…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:9, 13).
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13, NKJV)
Jesus was tempted far more than three times (Lk. 4:3-12). He was tempted forty days in the wilderness, and He was tempted throughout His work on earth (Lk. 4:2; 22:28). Satan continued looking for the proper time to entice Jesus to sin. The devil never stops looking for opportunities to tempt us to sin. Never think you are beyond temptation. If you do, then the devil has you exactly where he wants you. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). We must be sober, watchful, and steadfast in the faith to resist the devil (1 Pet. 5:8-9). We are commanded to resist the devil (Jas. 4:7). Jesus showed us how. He used God’s word to resist temptations (Lk. 4:4, 8, 12). Truth is our great way of escape when the father of lies entices us to sin against God (1 Cor. 10:13). You are not alone in your temptations. Jesus has been there. He resisted the devil, and so can you.
Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:5, NKJV)
God-approved marriage gives moral protection against sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 7:2). In marriage, each one’s body belongs to the other, emphasizing the unselfish nature of the sexual union of the husband and the wife. Verse 5 affirms the selfless feature of the marriage bed as the apostle warns married couples not to deprive (“defraud,” KJV) one another of this marital right and privilege, except under three conditions: (1) It is by mutual consent, (2) It is temporary, and (3) It is for a period of concentrated spiritual activity (fasting and prayer). The danger of depriving one’s spouse of the marriage bed is the opening it gives Satan to tempt one (or both) to abandon self-control and commit sexual immorality. You are a preserver and protector of your mate’s moral purity and self-control when you render the affection he or she is due (1 Corinthians 7:3). You become a tool of Satan when you deprive your spouse of the marriage bed of honor (Hebrews 13:4).
3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. 4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies. (Psalm 141:3–4, NKJV)
The enticements of evil are prevalent and powerful. Those who practice sin allure the innocent to join them with offerings of personal pleasure and satisfaction. “Their delicacies” are designed to tempt, but leave the soul famished and starved of righteousness. One’s heart must not be willing to accept the temptations to join with evil and practice sin. Like David, petition God to set a guard over your mouth, that you will not utter compliance and agreement with evil. We cannot eat appetizers from the table of sin, without becoming workers of iniquity. Pray tell: how many delicacies off the table of iniquity can one eat (how much sin can one commit) without causing spiritual harm? To ask such a question is to answer it! Therefore, we must always “depart from evil and do good” (Psalm 34:14; 1 Peter 3:10-11). Do not play around with sin. Protect yourself from the delicacies of those who practice sin. You cannot “partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:10–11, NKJV)
The sinning Christian we read of in 1 Corinthians 5:1 was disciplined by the Corinthian church, and he repented of his sin (2 Corinthians 2:6-8). Now was the time for forgiving and rejoicing, not recrimination. Satan will seek an advantage against us, even when a Christian repents of sin. Therefore, we must always be alert for his subtle deceptions. We cannot afford to be uninformed and unaware of his strategies to entice us to sin. While we pray to our Father to not “lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” we must also equip ourselves with the whole armor of God and “be strong in the Lord,” to “be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11). When someone sins against us and hurts us, but then asks us for our forgiveness, we must fully and completely forgive (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-35). Otherwise, we are overtaken by sin, at the very moment we ought to be instruments of God’s mercy and compassion.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13, NKJV)
Jesus is not saying to pray that we are never tempted; Temptations to sin come to us all. James settles the matter once and for all that the devil, not God, is the source of temptations (Jas. 1:13-15). Jesus is teaching us to pray for God’s watchful care so that we will not succumb to temptations (for by so doing, we choose to sin). “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” was the Lord’s exhortation to the three disciples who slept in Gethsemane; and to us as well (Matt. 26:41). Sadly, we often sleep even as we walk into the midst of temptations, all the while expecting the Lord to miraculously rescue us from spiritual harm. While praying for God’s assured protection and to use the available avenues of escape when temptations come, we must vigilantly watch for the enticements the evil one will set before us (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8). God’s deliverance from temptation comes as we watch and pray, resist the allurements of the devil and refuse to sin against God.