In the last few weeks we have looked at the reason for temptation and the source of evil temptation. Tonight I want us to complete the first chapter of James and see how to conquer temptation when it comes. (And it will come!)
James tells us that there is a way to conquer sinful temptation. That power is available when the Word of God is active and abiding in our lives.
I. Be Ready to Receive the Word. v19-21
A. This is great advice:
1. "…Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…"
2. 'Swift' = ready
3. So we are to be ready to hear or receive the Word of God into our lives.
B. God wants us to have His words "engrafted". (implanted) into our lives.
C. Why Be Ready to Receive the Word?
1. The Word will save our souls.
2. 'Save' = Not always used in reference to eternal life.
3. The word literally means to preserve, to protect, to heal, to do well, or to make whole.
4. When you readily receive God's Word, it replaces temptation with truth.
5. Truth implanted in the heart drives temptation away.
(Psa 119:11) "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
C. How can we be ready to hear?
1. By shutting our mouth on a regular basis so you can listen. v19
"Man has two ears and one tongue, so they should listen twice as much as they speak."
2. We need to recognize that we don't know it all!
(Prov 29:11) "A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards." (Prov 29:20) "Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him."
3. By a proper reaction to what we hear.
a. Don't take offense at the Word of God (v19).
b. Anger will not produce a righteous life (v20).
4. By laying aside all other sinful influences that hinders our ability to hear (v21.)
a. "Filthiness" means disgusting and offensive conduct, filth.
b. "Superfluity of naughtiness" means an abounding or overflowing.
c. We must see to it that the Word falls on "good soil."
d. A mind given to these things will not receive the Word.
5. Note the example:
a. Ever try to talk with someone who is watching his favorite team or maybe his favorite show on TV?
b. He is trying to listen to you and watch at the same time.
c. He can't hear clearly.
d. Being ready to receive the Word means we must eliminate other things (distractions, thoughts, worries, etc.) that would compete with the truth and replace it with God's Word.
II. Be Obedient to the Word. v22-25
A. Obedience keeps us from self-deception
1. Many are deceived into thinking that hearing is all that is required.
2. Having only a head knowledge brings dead orthodoxy.
3. God wants living examples.
a. It's not enough to hear that we are commanded to be a witness
b. That we are commanded to tithe
c. That we are commanded to read our Bible.
d. To be obedient we must witness to others.
e. We must tithe
f. We must read our Bible
g. We are not obedient until we do it.
h. We are deceived if we think we are a good Christian if we are not a doer of the Word.
B. Obedience keeps us from forgetfulness (v 23-24)
1. The illustration is of a man who looks in a mirror.
2. While gazing, he can see every blemish, scar, defect, every hair out of place.
3. But as soon as he turns away and goes about his business, all those defects are forgotten.
4. The mirror is the Word of God.
a. It reflects a clear image of our righteousness.
b. It shows us all the areas of our lives that need attention.
c. It shows us how to correct all of these areas also.
5. The believer who stays in the Word and obeys It, is aware constantly of his flaws and shortcomings and is in the process of making corrections.
6. He does not forget.
C. Obedience is the only thing that brings blessing (v25).
1. "Blessed in his deed"
2. Only the Christian who obey the Word experience God's blessings on their lives.
3. The blessing is not in knowing, it is in doing!
4. "Continueth therein" means he has consistency; he stays in the Word of God day by day.
(John 15:10) "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
III. Evidence of Victory v26-27
A. It will be visible by a controlled tongue
1. If we think we have strong faith and cannot control our tongue, two things are true about us.
2. We are deceived.
3. Our Christianity is vain (useless)
B. It will be visible by the marks of an unselfish life (v27a).
1. It makes us imitators of God
(Psa 68:5) "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation."
2. Christian = Christ-like
3. Is our life like His?
4. Do others see Christ in us?
C. It will be visible by a separated life (v27b).
1. We will not be corrupted by the world.
2. The 'world' is a reference to whole earthly realm…
3. We are in the world, but we are not to be of the world.
(John 15:19) "If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
(John 17:14) "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."
(2 Pet 2:20) "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."
4. No one will believe our testimony if our lives reflect the things of this world.
How can we overcome temptation? Be ready to receive the Word…Be obedient to the Word that we receive…the evidence will be visible in our lives. There is no victory in just hearing. We must obey God and do it.