What is the Meaning of James 1.13-18

“Correcting Deception about Temptation” Part 1: Take Responsibility for Your Sin

James 1:13-18

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of James 1.13-18

[1] Yesterday, in John and Mary’s wedding, we witnessed a wonderful testimony to God’s good pleasure, didn’t we? They are off to a good start. Disciples of Christ, pursuing Him, it’ll be wonderful to see what God has for them.

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To say the least, not every marriage starts off on such a good foundation. Katie’s story before she received Christ is heart breaking …“I had been married for eight wonderful years to my husband when I fell into the sin of adultery. We had three children at the time, ages five, three, and one. I thought I had pulled it off without anyone knowing. I pretended to be a faithful wife and cheerful mommy. However, within a months time, my husband found out about the affair. He was so despondent that at work one day he committed suicide. He left me a note informing me that he knew about my adultery. I was left as a disgraced widow with three small children to care for all by myself….

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When you’re responsible for someone else’s death, the guilt was overwhelming and consuming. I tried to erase my guilt and shame with drugs and alcohol but they barely numbed the pain. Every time I was sober the shame would come rushing in and overwhelm me all over again. So I ended up taking more drugs and drinking more alcohol. This led to an hourly addiction of smoking pot and meth and then pouring vodka into a Slurpee cup to disguise the problem from my kids. The addiction turned me into a mean and angry mother with a short fuse.

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Many times I wanted to take my own life. I didn’t think I deserved to live. I made plans to sit in my car and close the garage and turn on the engine. Before I turned the ignition key I went inside the house to get a marijuana cigarette, thinking that if I was stoned it would ease the 15 minute wait until the intoxicating fumes suffocated me. But I never did turn the ignition on. When I went inside the house, someone knocked on my door.

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The day came when I was arrested for drug possession. I blamed God for everything. I blamed God for my husband’s death. I blamed God for my addiction. I blamed God for my incarceration. I blamed God for having my kids taken away. I blamed him for letting me live at all.

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Standing in the jail’s shower I railed against God.” Proverbs 19:3 3 The foolishness of man ruins his way, and his heart rages against the Lord.

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The rest of Katie’s story is inspiring, but at this point she is clearly deceived in her accusations against God.

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God is not responsible for tempting her or for her sin. This sin of accusing God goes way back, as we will see and it is common to all of us. James in James 1:13-18 corrects us about this accusation. Let’s read that together …

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James 1:13–18 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.

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James is writing to his readers and he is correcting those who are deceived and who accuse God that He himself is tempting them. Verse 16, don’t be deceived about this, brethren. About what? About temptation.

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So, I’d like to preach a little 2 or 3 part series here on “Correcting Deception about Temptation.” Correcting Deception about Temptation.

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James’ Readers’ Background

James’ readers were being persecuted. Imagine being persecuted! Persecution can bring with it many different difficulties, not the least of which is temptations to sin. For example, some Christians would be inclined toward retaliation. “Because they hurt me, I will hurt them back.” Others, during persecution, might be tempted toward justification. Justifying their sin, that is. In other words, someone persecuted might say, “my pain is so great and I’m suffering for the Lord, I will do whatever I want to for pleasure.”

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But difficulties in life, whether persecution or what Katie was going through, can sometimes lead to accusation. Accusing God. And indeed this would have been James’ readers temptation.

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  • “God, you were sovereign over my difficulty.”
  • “And now in this difficulty I’m tempted to sin.”
  • “So, God you are tempting me to sin.”

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And so we need to be aware that external trials can bring internal temptations, but that doesn’t mean that God tempts me, does it. And we learned about those external trials in back in verses 2 to 12. James now goes from writing about external trials to writing about inward temptations during trials.

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You see, trials are meant by God to give you strength, endurance, and ultimately conformity to Christ’s image. But temptations are meant to give death. God brings trials, but he never tempts anyone to sin.

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Whereas trials are meant to give strength, endurance, and be a perfecting work, temptations are meant to give death. But these life-giving trials often contain death-giving temptations.

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TRANS: But no matter your trial, you can’t blame God when you’re tempted in the trial. But many people do… But let me ask this question …

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“… What Sins or Temptations do People Blame God For?…”

Well, like Katie…adultery. “God, if you hadn’t given me such an angry or negligent spouse, I wouldn’t have done this!”

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What about anger? “God, I wouldn’t lose my temper, if you gave me a more respectful spouse, or better coworkers.”

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“God, I would have a pure heart if You didn’t expose me to so many sensual things.”

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“God, I wouldn’t worry about things so much if I had a little bit more money or better health.”

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“God, I would submit myself to my parents, pastor, or husband, employer if they would be more godly or give me what I need.”

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TRANS: This is called blameshifting and it’s nothing new. It’s only a few seconds older than sin itself. In Genesis 3, keep a hand here and flip back to Gen. 3 … In Genesis 3, Adam blames God for his falling into sin. Adam blames God because Adam failed to see God’s goodness.

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You know the story. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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And then the old crafty serpent, the devil and Satan, Revelation 12:9 says comes….in Genesis 3:1 … he comes to the woman and asks a question. His question implies that God is unreasonably strict. “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” Or… “Is it really true that God said, ‘You must not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

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Satan is saying … “Isn’t God so strict? He’s not good!” But James directly counters that, “Every good thing comes from God.”

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Of course Adam and Eve fall for Satan’s temptation and God comes to Adam and questions him and in verse 12 Adam says, [normal reading emphasis] “the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.”

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Can you hear Adam blame God? “the woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.” “The woman whom You gave me, God! She gave it to me….

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Blameshifting has been with us from the beginning and it’s in all our hearts. It’s in our hearts from birth.

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ILL: Little Joey is shooting some hoops with his friend Nathan. Nathan is 10 feet away from the hoop, sitting beside the city garbage can. Little Joey shoots and misses…and the ball bounces…bounces again…and bounces on top the trash can and it slowly falls and lands onto… Nathan’s head. Nathan says, “Hey, you gotta watch what you’re doing…” to which little Joey replies … “I didn’t do that, the ball did it.”

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Lightning fast blame shift. You don’t have to think much before words like that enter into your mind.

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TRANS: We’re just going to deal with verses 13-14 this morning, where we’re going to learn to take responsibility for our own temptations and sin. The issue concerns the source of temptation. And what the Lord is exhorting us here is to “Take responsibility for your own temptations.” Let me ask …

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  1. What is the Source of Temptation? (1:13)
    1. The source of our temptation is not God (1:13)
      1. The Command
      2. The Reason

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James 1:13 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

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The source is not God! God does not tempt anyone. You are commanded not to say that.

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What does God not do here? Tempt. What’s that? Temptation is the enticement to sin. God does not entice anyone to sin. He doesn’t try to get anyone to sin.

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God does test

He doesn’t tempt to sin, but God does test. You remember that God, in Genesis 22:1, tested Abraham when he told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham passed the test.

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God tested his people Israel. What was God doing to His own people in the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and after Israel disobeyed Him by not going into the Promised Land? God was testing them in the desert, Deut 8:2.

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Israel’s in a trial. They have little to eat, little to drink and they are wandering about in the desert. God is testing them to see whether they will keep His commandments or not.

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God tested them again. The Lord says in Judges 2:21-22 that He would no longer drive out the pagan people from the land … why? “in order to test Israel by them, whether they will keep the way of the Lord…or not.”

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And God tested King Hezekiah. 2 Kings 20 says that King Hezekiah was sick …tests can come when you’re sick…Hezekiah was sick and a royal group from Babylon showed him sympathy and Hezekiah then shows them all his treasure house. And 2 Chron. 32:31 says that the Lord tested Hezekiah by leaving him alone…why? “that He might know all that was in [Hezekiah’s] heart.”

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So God does test his people through various trials. This is all for our good! We too often fail to appreciate what God is trying to do trials, to make us like His Son.

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TRANS: God tests us. But when testing happens, you will find temptations. But God does not tempt us. Sometimes when you are tested, you’re in a trial, you will find temptations. That’s what happened to Hezekiah. He’s sick and “lo and behold” he’s being tempted to sin against God.

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God leads into temptation

God doesn’t tempt, but what does He do? God leads us into situations. And in those situations are temptations. Or God leads us into trials and through those trials, because of our sinful desires, we are tempted.

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In the perfect gracious providence of God, you may find yourself being tempted, being enticed to sin.

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You know what, I’m in this trial and that trial, you know what…”I’m not going to read my Bible, I’ve been too busy, I need to relax” or “I deserve a little pleasure today” and go and do things you ought not do… or “I don’t feel like assembling with God’s people today and I know I should!”

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Don’t add sin to your trials!

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Turn to Matthew 4:1. God lead Jesus into many situations. And in this situation in Matthew 4 are temptations. Jesus was tempted. And Matthew 4:1 tells us specifically that the Holy Spirit was leading him the whole time.

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Matthew 4:1 1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

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And then the devil attempts to entice Jesus to sin with 3 temptations.

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Why did the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the wilderness? Look at the verse, what does it say? The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Who is doing the tempting? Is it God? No, it’s the devil. But who led Jesus into that place where that would happen? The Holy Spirit.

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God lead Jesus into this situations in which were temptations.

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That’s the same with you. In the perfect will of God, God can lead you into places where there will be temptations. But He himself doesn’t do the tempting. But He can lead you into places where there is temptation.

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This is why Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6…you can go there 2 chapters later … Matthew 6:13

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Matthew 6:13 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

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Jesus teaches us here to ask God to keep us from situations in which there are temptations… but if not, we’re also asking that He deliver us from evil…deliver us from sinning, from succumbing to that temptation.

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He can lead us into situations in which we are tempted. But He doesn’t do the tempting.

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God can lead you into town to pick up groceries or to pick something for your farm or business…and every time you drive past that store in town…you are tempted. Does God want you to do your job and get the groceries? Yes! Did He know that you would be tempted in town? Yes! Whether it’s going into town or onto the internet or with your phone …

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TRANS: You say, “Doesn’t God use situations like that?” That He does. “But isn’t God in control of every circumstance?” That He is.

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You say, “But how can God not be the blame for it?” Suppose you are being enticed to sin and you choose to give up trying to resist…and you sin … is it now God’s fault?

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No, why not?

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Because James says back in James 1:13, for 2 reasons in verse 13. God is not at fault, first, because God cannot be tempted with evil. And secondly, He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.

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God cannot be tempted by evil

God does not tempt because God cannot be tempted by evil. He is literally “untemptable.” It is beyond his nature to be tempted.

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God is entirely holy. There is nothing in Him that responds to temptation. He is morally incapable of being tempted.

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And He doesn’t tempt

And because that’s true, secondly He can’t tempt anyone. He can’t pass along what He himself doesn’t have. He can’t be tempted; He’s perfectly holy and so He himself is also incapable of tempting.

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There is nothing in God that responds to any desire for evil. And because that is true, he also therefore cannot seek to bring about sin in us. That would be against his nature to try to get us to sin. His very nature is opposed to sin and so therefore it is impossible for him to attempt to get his creatures to sin. That would be sinful, against God’s nature.

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TRANS: Well, if God is not the source of our temptations, then what is? The source of your temptation, verse 14, is your own evil desires.

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  1. The source of our temptation is our own evil desires (1:14)

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James 1:14 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

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When are you tempted? When are you enticed to sin? When you are carried away and enticed by your own lust. Your own lust…that is, your own evil desires carry you away and they entice you.

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  1. Your own evil desires are yours. They are unique.

Your own lust or your own evil desire…not just sexual desire, but all evil desires…you have your own evil desires. Your own evil desires are unique.

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ILL: No one has exactly your set of evil desires and sinful tendencies. You know, certain bugs are attracted to bug zappers and some aren’t. Some are attracted to apple cider vinegar and sugar and some aren’t.

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Last year, we got fed up with all the flies this time of year and we ingeniously redesigned a 2 litre bottle of pop and filled it with apple cider vinegar and sugar. In full anticipation of catching every last fly on our property, we placed it right outside on the deck.

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There were many…well, some…well, actually just like 3 or 4 who were enticed by that and carried away and they fell straight for it and died in that deviously sweet mixture.

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Some got it; others didn’t. That’s the same with you. Your set of temptations are unique. You might be overly attracted to women’s handbags and be more tempted to shoplift one. Others might see Oiler’s tickets and be tempted to swip them…especially if they were winning half their games.

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TRANS: They are your unique desires, but James’ main point here is that these desires are yours…drawn away by your own lust … they are your responsibility. Your evil desires are your responsibility.

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  1. Your own evil desires are yours. They are your responsibility.

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The source of your temptations originate from within, not from above. They are yours.

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There is outside stimulus, perhaps, but the source of the temptation is your unique evil desires; your unique propensity to evil.

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And those evil desires are yours! That’s the source of your temptations. Why are you so tempted sometimes? Not because of God, but because of your evil desires.

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You may have natural desires for food, water, air, but many other desires are learned. You may prefer certain kinds of music or clothing, or you may imagine yourself driving a Ford F-12 hundred 50 in all it’s glory! If you think about all the standard features: like cupholders … but man…all those additions you can add to it … crewcab, power adjustable pedals, rearview camera, reverse sensing system, remote start system, satellite radio, and 6 way power, luxury cloth seats…. and man…oh… boy, you could get used to that!

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You weren’t born with that strong desire. And then you start imagining yourself driving around in that vehicle…and what do you image people’s heads doing as you’re pulling through town … yeah, people’s heads are turning…as they gaze at your sleek black finish and shiny chrome grille.

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Now owning a great truck, for example, isn’t wrong. But when you start to develop strong personal desires for it you can get easily lured into desiring it for sinful motives or in a sinful way.

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ILL: It’s like one of my fishing experiences. When I was a boy, I went fishing with my aunt and cousin at my grandmother’s pond. It was a hot and humid Illinois afternoon. We were fishing for some time and hadn’t caught anything!

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But then we [*swing around*] swung around to a little corner of the pond [*here no here*]. Back then, I was pretty inexperienced as a fisherman and so my aunt was heading up this expedition.

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And my aunt threw her hook in, all baited with a worm and she caught a fish.

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So, I decide to I threw my hook in. Zrrrr…. [*tongue click*]. Waiting… Look there, underneath the water, there… observing my little hook, is an equally tiny blue gill. Quite a feast for such a little thing … there it is , thinking, studying it…not thinking of the consequences… and [*clap*]!

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At my Aunt’s direction, before we knew it, we were just reeling in all these little tiny, 4-6 inch blue gills. Some were caught without any bait, at all! I look back and think they would have been better for bait then for eating. We must have had 20 or 30 of them. But my aunt ended up keeping all of these midget blue gill and preparing them. And we ate them.

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But this is exactly what our desires can do to us. Our strong desires mix with our sin natures and like that fish…under right provocation, we sin.

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Each man is tempted when he is carried away…one translation has it, each man is tempted when he is “lured and enticed by his own desires.”

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The worm on that hook is like our evil desires. Your evil desires will carry you away, they will entice you and you’ll get caught. And it was never God, the whole time it was your own lusts that were carrying you away and enticing you. Not your boss, not your spouse, not sibling or friend, it was your own evil desire.

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Application

You need to take responsibility for your temptations and your sin. Are you angry? That’s your problem. It’s not your wife’s problem no matter how much she disrespects you. You need to own it. Own up to your temptations. It is your temptation to sin. When someone is angry with you, you will be tempted to be angry because of your lusts.

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Ladies and young ladies, and young men … do you find yourself oohhing and awing of yourself and your physical appearance or very attracted to the magazines about how to look better.

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Prov. 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”

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“Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Are you fearing the Lord or man this morning?

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Are you seeking the approval of man or seeking the approval of God? Are you seeking to grow in favor with God? All the peer pressure to do and to be a certain way, and it’s your strong desire that cause you to react to that. Take responsibility for your sin!

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Men, are you pure in your hearts? Are you taking consistent responsibility for your own desires?

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Proverbs 9:13–18 13 The woman of folly is boisterous, She is naive and knows nothing. 14 She sits at the doorway of her house, On a seat by the high places of the city, 15 Calling to those who pass by, Who are making their paths straight: 16 “Whoever is naive, let him turn in here,” And to him who lacks understanding she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet; And bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” 18 But he does not know that the dead are there, That her guests are in the depths of the grave.

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Where are you feeling the pull on your evil desires this morning? What strong desires do you have? And how is your sin nature mixing with your will to get you to take the bait? This is your responsibility in the sight of God! Are you taking it seriously? Or are you just going through life like normal…and you’re not actively putting off that sin and putting godly qualities? Do you keep on responding the same old man way?

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And are you saying … it’s so-and-so’s fault … and you have the Adam and Eve syndrome and you keep point the finger at someone else, your wife, husband, siblings, coworkers, or your pastor?

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You’ve got to start taking responsibility for your own temptations. What does that mean?

1. You got to get into God’s word. You can’t expect to take responsibility for your sin and to live righteously without God’s word.

2. Maybe you need additional help. We’ve talked about how to get over a number of sins already on our Thursday night services. Let me know if you need extra help on getting over sin, whether it’s anger, depression, marriage issues. I’m here to help.

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Has there been something that’s happened in your life…and you’ve taken the bait, you’ve sinned? And you’re guilty and you know it…

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Are you ashamed of your sin?

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What do you do? You don’t blame God, you repent.

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Don’t blame God! Jesus took your blame for you, have you lost sight of that? Yes, it was your sin that held him on the cross…your anger, your worry…but praise God for that!

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When the Son of God came to earth, He became poor, miserable, blind, and naked for you! He took all your sin and all your shame bore it … in His body and also deep in His heart…on that tree he took the penalty for you and me. And God raised Him to life…that all who decide to trust Him and turn their backs on their sin, might have everlasting life. Are you in Christ this morning? Do you know the cleansing power of the blood? Do you understand the gentleness of Christ, His infinite forgiveness, and His compassions that are new every morning?

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Take responsibility for your sin. Confess it to the gracious heavenly Father and confess it to others and take some steps to get over that sin.

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of James 1.13-18

Don’t blame God for your sin. Many people, even this week, are experiencing what Katie has experienced: the shame over adultery. Katie committed adultery and her husband had committed suicide. Her evil desires over her intense guilt and shame led her to drug and alcohol addiction. When she got arrested, she blamed God for everything.

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She said, “I blamed him for my husband’s death. I blamed him for my addiction. I blamed him for my incarceration. I blamed him for having my kids taken away. I blamed him for letting me live at all.

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Standing in the jail’s shower I railed against God” she said.

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She continues, “Then right in the middle of my tantrum, I ran out of things to blame God for and I started sobbing and crying in relentless fits of pain until I could cry no more. Within moments of this tirade two words came forth: I’m sorry.

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Then it began to flow like a torrent from my lips, “I’m sorry, God! I’m so sorry!” I never thought of God before as anything but an impersonal moral authority. Surprisingly though, the next words she uttered were, “Papa, help me. Papa I’m so sorry.” In my heart I knew I was to blame for everything that had happened.

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As I stood in the shower, water rushing down upon my head, I knew that in that moment God had forgiven me and I accepted his forgiveness. Since that day, I have stumbled upon the true meaning of the word “receive.” There is one synonym in particular that I really like. It is the word “welcome.” On the day I accepted God’s forgiveness, I put a welcome mat at the door of my heart I said to Jesus, “come on in.” From that day forward, I’ve never been the same. God’s forgiveness led to a transformed and restored life! Because of God’s grace and love for me, he took my sin of adultery washed me clean. He altered the consequences of my sin and gave me beauty for ashes. Today I’m able to shout for joy because of the peace that God has given me since I welcomed his forgiveness. Miraculously, by God’s grace, I’m remarried to a godly man who has adopted my three children as his own. I never expected God to be able to use me as he has. However, God has not only used my testimony to help others but as a family, my husband and kids, we serve in the ministry together. My husband and I even serve in the drug and alcohol ministry to help others discover the forgiveness of God in their own lives and to welcome it.”

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Katie repented of her blaming God, took responsibility for her sin, and with a broken and contrite spirit, she asked God for forgiveness.

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Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

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Have you found compassion? Take responsibility, confess it, forsake it, and find God’s compassion. Number 560.

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Go to James Main Page

Go To New Testament Books

Go To BibleTrove Home Page

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  1. https://books.google.ca/books?id=tKn4AgAAQBAJ&pg=PT57&lpg=PT57&dq=i+blamed+god+for+my+sin&source=bl&ots=Wvhg1OEhvz&sig=aEio0UXXZeXnQZI0GBgiiWC1Akk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDcQ6AEwCDgKahUKEwj5xZmJmL3HAhVLCJIKHR1-Dbw#v=onepage&q=i%20blamed%20god%20for%20my%20sin&f=false

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