The Truth about Temptation

Title: The Truth about Temptation

Bible Book: James 1 : 1-15

Author: Ron Hale

Subject: Temptation



James 1 and Ephesians 6: 14-17

Does anyone like doughnuts? Pastor Tony Evans tells the following story in his book entitled Life Essentials; it’s about a man trying to lose some weight. His biggest temptation in the world and his greatest stumbling block to losing weight was doughnuts; he was the Duke of doughnuts. Every doughnut Shop for miles around knew this man. One day at work, this man declared himself the winner over this temptation as he made a New Year’s resolution to never eat another doughnut. He told everyone at work they would never see him eat another doughnut.

He was finished and fed up with doughnuts. And they didn’t see him eat another doughnut for several days. One morning he walks into work with a big sack of cream-filled doughnuts. When his coworkers asked him what was going on, he said, “These are not ordinary doughnuts. They’re doughnuts from God.”

They asked him to explain. He said, “It’s very simple. Before I passed the Doughnut Shop on my way to work this morning, and fully knowing I would see all those pretty pastries in the window, I prayed.”

They asked him what he prayed. He said, “I prayed for strength and I said, ‘Lord, if You want me to have any of those delicious, delectable, and delightful doughnuts, You are going to have to give me a parking spot right in front of the doughnut shop. If you do this, I’ll know that You want me to have some doughnuts.” Then he said, “And sure enough, after nine times around the block, there was a parking spot right in front of the doughnut shop!”

Temptation comes at us from every direction causing all kinds of dilemmas. I think you’ll agree with me that it is not sinful to walk in a doughnut shop. But walking into a doughnut shop was not the wisest thing to do for the man in this story.

This morning we are going to ask the Holy Spirit of God to help us be wise. We need to ask God to help us understand the Word of God, so we can live a more godly life by understanding the truth about temptation.

This morning we are going to look at the powerful and practical book of James. Turn to Chapter one and we are going to look at several verses in the New International Version

Verse two – “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds”. Verse twelve – “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial ….” Verse thirteen – “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”

I. The Actuality of Temptation

The Bible makes clear to us that we will face the duality and dilemma of both trials and temptations.

Trials are allowed by God to help us mature in our faith and attain perseverance. In fact, God may initiate the trial. The goal will always be for our spiritual growth and giving God glory.

Temptations are totally opposite. God is not the author of temptations. Temptations are lures and baited bribes to sin against God and His laws and cause us harm. The devil is behind every pull and persuasion toward temptation.

Like a professional fisherman, the devil studies and scrutinizes us, seeking to find chinks in our spiritual armor. Once a fault or flaw is found, you quickly jump to the top of the devil’s to-do-list.

Once you’re on the devil’s day-timer, exploitation of these character flaws is relentlessly pursued. The desire of the hounds of hell is to track and trail you until you are dragged down into defeat.

Remember what the devil told Adam and Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

Notice something here; God presented the garden experience as a trial to test their faith in order to help them trust their creator. God gave them free reign and rights to eat of every tree in the garden except one. God made it perfectly clear to his creation. He told them they are not to eat of one tree and if they do they die.

The devil slithers into the garden with a luring lie for the purpose of temptation. Adam and Eve took the bait and believed this fatal fib!

Listen to me church family; listen to me young people, the Bible teaches the actuality of temptation.

Maybe you heard about the little boy that was caught eating cookies on top of the kitchen counter. His mother asked him why he disobeyed her.

He said, “Mama, I got up on the stool to smell the plate of cookies, and the next thing I know, some got caught in my teeth.”

It sounds like a better excuse than what Adam gave, Amen?

But, notice something else about temptation.

II. The Advancement of Temptation

Verse fourteen – “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” Verse fifteen – “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Temptation always advances in a downward direction; we see it in the following ways:

A. The Drawing Power Of Desire

The devil is an expert in taking God’s legitimate desires and making them illegitimate. For instance, we have the desire to be loved and to love. The devil twists the desire to love into lust.

Have you wondered why the city of Las Vegas specializes in dazzling lights with glitz, glamour, and glitter? It’s all a game of allurement and fascination. The devil knows how to package the forbidden with false advertising; we start off by saying, “Oh My!” and end up saying, “Oh Me!”

God’s Word teaches us in v.14 that we can open up our lives to be carried away and enticed by our own evil and selfish desires.

Have you ever bought something you couldn’t afford with money you didn’t really have while trying to impress people you didn’t like and all the while you’re falling for the deception of debt? And like a mouse going for the cheese, the next thing you know the weight of the world is coming down on your head.

B. The Draining Power Of Disobedience

It’s not a sin to be tempted. There’s only one group of people on earth that can’t be tempted – those living in cemeteries, crypts, and mausoleums. If you’re alive and kicking, you can be tempted.

Jesus was tempted but he chose not to fall into the devil’s trap. He knew that desire leads to disobedience.

When we allow desire to become fertile and fruitful in our hearts, this gives birth to sin as we accept it and act it out.

The Bible says, “… after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.”

Listen, the devil’s fatal formula is: believe it, deceive it, and conceive it!

This fatal formula was first tested in the Garden of Eden and is as current as the front page of today’s newspaper!

And ironies upon ironies, this conception gives birth to death.

C. The Damning Power Of Death

The Bible says, “… and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

The last stop on the train wreck of temptation is death. Death by degrees happens every time we sin. Sin keeps lost people from a personal relationship with God and sin keeps Christians out of fellowship with God.

The devil loves the smell of death.

The Komodo dragon is the largest lizard in the world. A single Komodo lizard can kill a Water Buffalo. The lizard can’t bring it down like a lion or tiger, it seeks to ambush it and deliver a single bite to the body of the Buffalo. The Komodo lizard has the nastiest bacteria in the world living in its mouth and teeth. Once inside the Buffalo, the bacteria begin spreading like a raging fire. Wherever, the Buffalo goes, the fatal fragrance of death follows. The Komodo dragon just follows the smell of death, until it finds the giant animal laying helpless and hopeless from the bite that gave birth to death! Dinner is served.

Last, let’s look at the …

III. The Attire against Temptation

James gives great guidance when he says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

The Bible instructs us in how to dress for success in resisting the devil and fighting spiritual warfare. God gives us the gospel gear and garb for getting outfitted for battle.

God goes to all this trouble because He did not design us to be “crushed Christians” – people who have given up on life and themselves as worthless.1

United States war planning experts utilize the principle of “Force Multipliers”. These force multipliers can quickly and dramatically change the odds and improve the likelihood of victory in battle situations. Small numbers of troops can defeat larger armies using tactics like: strategic intelligence, psychological warfare, deception, highly specialized training, strategic alliances, and superior technology by means of things like flying drones, satellite surveillance, night vision, and excellent telecommunications.

We are going to look at six “force multipliers” in dressing spiritual success in Ephesians 6:14-17.

A. The Belt of Truth

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around the waist” (Eph. 6:14).

The devil’s greatest weapon is lies. He is the father of all lies and the truth is not in him according to the Bible. Therefore, you can’t reason with the devil.

Your mind is the devil’s nonstop target. Your mind is a powerful instrument created in God’s image. Through memory, your mind can reach back into your personal past. Through imagination your mind can reach into the future. Your present thoughts can affect your judgments and joy. 2

This is why the belt of truth is mentioned first. God does not want your mind to be captured with lies.

The Psalmist said, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11).

Studying, memorizing, reading, reflecting, and putting the God of God into practice in our daily walk is our main defense against the deceit and double-dealing of the devil.

B. The Breastplate of Righteousness

“With the breastplate of righteousness in place” (6:14).

The breastplate on a Roman solider protected the heart and lungs. Humans can’t make it far without blood and air. Shaped like the human torso, the Roman solider knew that he was protecting vital organs as he put on this life saving tool.

As Christians we put on the breastplate of righteousness as we seek to be filled with the Spirit each day and allowing Jesus to reign and rule in our daily decisions and actions.

As we live with right attitudes and actions that are of the Lord, our hearts will beat with the joy of Jesus and our lungs will help us praise and preach His wonderful name.

C. The Shoes of Peace

“And with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” (6:15).

Romans foot soldiers wore sandals or shoes with hobnails on the soles. This simple invention helped soldiers gain traction and balance as they fought in chaos and carnage.

Foot soldiers help win wars on their feet, not on their backs. Where does the Christian find his or her footing in 21st century America? How do we stand firm when it seems we are fighting an uphill battle on slippery secular slopes? The answer is still the same; we boldly share and declare the gospel of peace!

Listen to Romans 5: 1-2, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

D. The Shield of Faith

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (verse 16). The KJV calls these arrows the “fiery darts” of Satan. The devil loves to play a deadly dart game. Your picture and mine is in the bull’s eye of his dart board. So, what does the devil’s darts look like? Only a daily basis the devil throws doubts, discouragements, disillusionments, and desires at us constantly.

One of the devil’s tactics is to keep us busy putting out fires so we will become distracted from the real war that is waging. For instance, have you ever seen a church that is fighting? The devil has them distracted from the real battle of winning souls that are dying and going to a devil’s hell.

God gives us the shield of faith to extinguish those doubts and desires immediately. Look at how Jesus dealt with the temptations in the desert. When the devil threw Jesus a temptation, immediately Jesus extinguished it with the truth of God’s Word.

Listen, you can’t daydream about the devil’s darts! They will destroy you. Listen, immediately (instantly, right away, at once) the fiery darts must be snuffed out with the shield of faith and faith always believes the truth and sees a way forward.

The shield of faith will deflect the darts, so you can wage war with the sword of the spirit. And we are going to look at that in a moment, but first we are to put on …

E. The Helmet of Salvation

“Take the helmet of salvation” (verse 17).

A helmet protects your head that in turn protects your brain. In the midst of battle, your brain tells you: whose side you’re on, who your enemy is, and if you are winning or losing. Your brain controls your decisions and your direction in life. Without your brain your identity is missing. In short, you are dead.

I remember watching my grandmother ring the neck of a chicken when I was about six years old. It was a strange spectacle. I remember my grandmother swinging the chicken in the air and the next thing I know, I saw a chicken running like a chicken with its head cut off. It had motion but no mind. And very quickly it all came to a crashing halt.

The devil’s job is to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil loves playing mind games with us. He would love to ring your neck so hard, that you’d be like a Christian running around with the joy of God’s salvation gone from your head and your heart.

Put on the helmet of salvation and keep it on! Let the mind of Christ be in you! Renew your mind through God’s Word everyday!

The sixth and final piece of attire against temptation is …

F. The Sword of the Spirit

“… and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (verse 17).

Now we are talking offense, not defense. Foot soldiers may have shields, helmets, shoes, breastplates, and belts, but without the offensive weapon of the sword the enemy cannot be defeated.

God’s word is teaching the principle of yielding and wielding.

As the Believer yields to the Holy Spirit by handling the Word of God truthfully, he or she will be able to wield the sword of the Spirit according to Hebrews 4: 12 and see spiritual battles won. That verse says, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”


Listen to my closing challenge this morning: yield yourself to the Holy Spirit and wield the sword of the Lord! When you do this, you will have a multitude of spiritual strategies for staying out of trouble.

For you see, most people (even Christians) hardly ever intend to get into trouble. The problem is this; most people fail to plan to stay out of trouble.

Most people do not intentionally plan affairs, divorces, and alcoholism, and drug addiction, or pregnancies outside of marriage, or dishonest business dealing, and such; no they just don’t plan for these things NOT to happen.

When it comes to eternity, most people don’t plan on going to hell. They end up there because they failed to respond to truth. They ignored the light of the gospel that was shown them. They continually refused the pleading voice of the Holy Spirit. And with a hardened heart, at death, they split hell wide open.

In essence, they lost the spiritual battle of this world!

Be a winner today! Walk in wisdom today, please do what God wants you to do during this invitation.

Ron F. Hale – [email protected] ; January, 2009

1 Larry Neagle, Underground Manual for Spiritual Survival, Moody Press, Chicago, 1986.

2 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Strategy of Satan, Tyndale House, Carol Stream, 1979.

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