What is the Meaning of James 1.14-18

“What Happens When You Fail to Resist Temptation?”

James 1:14-15

INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of James 1.14-18

James 1. For those of you who have ever caught a fish, do you remember the thrill of reeling in your first one? The adrenaline rush as you feel the tug on that line… the excitement as your dad or granddad is there helping you reel it in, and the joy and sense of accomplishment as you hold that tiny thing up for the camera…wow! Look at that!

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[1]And if you kept fishing, you probably got better at it. But you’ve probably experienced some misses…and … oh … the disappointment when the big one got away!

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If you’ve ever let that big one get away, John Caprio has the solution for you! He’s a specialist in aquatic vertebrate taste and smell systems, and he studies the chemosensory systems of fish. He has spent much of the last three decades researching and perfecting technology that is based on the natural impulses of a fish’s sensory systems in order to make the perfect fishing lure…the perfect irresistible fishing lure … he calls the BioPulse lure…

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Basically, he’s laced the fishing lure with certain taste stimuli that triggers the fishes feeding response. But he’s also hired other specialists in the fish’s hearing and seeing, all to create this super successful lure.

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Now, if I could ask some of you men to snap out out of dream mode for a second…I hope that opening illustration isn’t the only thing you take home with you this morning …

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but just like John Caprio has learned how to entice fish to take the bait, so also your enemy has learned how to get you to sin… do you know your greatest enemy this morning? If you’re thinking Satan, you need a fundamental change of mind…

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It’s you; it’s your own evil desires! This is your greatest enemy. Over the course of your life, when you choose not to resist temptation, … what happens? When you choose not to resist temptation, you are training your evil desires to be more successful at taking the bait. Just like John Caprio learned how to entice fish, your evil desires learn more and more how to entice you when you fail to resist temptation.

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And so that’s why certain temptations for you become more and more difficult to resist. We’re in James 1…and we’ll read verses 13-15…

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James 1:13–15 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.

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Verse 14, it’s your own lust, your own evil desire that is your greatest enemy. Your temptation is your responsibility…You can’t blame God, your spouse, your siblings who make you mad, your parents who seem so inflexible, it’s your evil desire.

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Your evil desires learn more and more how to entice you when you fail to resist temptation.

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This morning’s message is answering this question … “What happens when I fail to resist temptation?” There are 3 stages in this process of temptation that are in the text…verse 14, temptation, verse 15…sin, and the end of verse 15, death.

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Temptation, sin, and death. Are you in the grip of temptation this morning? You need to understand what happens when you are tempted.

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Or, are you finding particular sins in your life very difficult to resist? You need to understand what happens when you are tempted.

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Or do your strong desires get the best of you and you lose self-control? You need to understand what happens when you are tempted. And I’ve just described everyone in this room this morning…

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When you begin to understand temptation, you will begin to find the power you need to resist it.

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So, I appeal to you this morning to prayerfully listen and be prepared to take some action as we discuss what happens when you fail to resist temptation.

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EXAMPLE: Take the boy who has a desire for candy. His mother told him only 1 piece of candy from the candy jar. But, when no one is looking, what does he do? He eats the whole jar! What is the spiritual anatomy of that? And how do you stop that? We’ll keep coming back to this boy to demonstrate the various stages.

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But you might not be tempted with candy this morning, … but what is it that you’re struggling with? Whatever it is at that moment of temptation it seems that, with irresistible power, your desires seem to hold sway over your will. Whether you’re struggling with sexual immorality, drunkenness, anger, worry, desire for fame or power, greed, or money … All of a sudden you seek your joy in the creature rather than the creator. And in that moment of temptation, you turn into a practical atheist, you forget God… The desire seems so overpowering that it intoxicates your mind and breaks off the only life line of your will and you plunge yourself into the deepest pit. In these moments, all Christian sanity is taken away and everything within you is shaking its fist at the authority and goodness of God.

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This is temptation, sin…and death.

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Let’s learn this morning how temptation works and what to do about it.

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  1. Temptation

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First, this morning, temptation. Verse 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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Temptation happens when your lust carries you away and entices you. So we have those two things in temptation … your own lust and a carrying away or enticing.

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And like we said before, lust here refers to your own evil desires that reside in your heart. And what do these desires do in your heart? They carry you away … they lead you off the right path and then they can entice you. And so temptation is being enticed to sin.

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ILL: Your desires are trying to get you to sin. As we saw last time we were in this passage, the words being carried away and being enticed are fishing and hunting terms.

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So, your desires are trying to get you to take the bait. They promise great joy and fun and excitement, but the pain of death resides in those temptations. Like the BioPulse lure, it looks almost irresistible. But if you fail to resist, you’re hooked.

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You might think you’re going for a little fun, or a little excitement, or you might kind of like to get all upset at someone, or to selfishly pursue your goals and ambitions apart from God’s word…or you might have a craving for outward honor…to the neglect of inward character… and the whole time you’re the one getting hooked.

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It’s like this skit I remember from 2 decades ago. A man is fishing casting in his reel, catching nothing…and then lo and behold, off to the left sitting so sweetly and so deliciously upon a perfectly carved log is a large, shiny, bright … red delicious apple… a real enticing scene…well, the man has had a long day fishing, he’s hungry and thirsty…he deserves an apple…and so he sits down sighs a deep sigh …relaxes…and takes a bit of it. And boy did that juicy sweet flavor envelope his entire mouth … but all of sudden you see his eyes widen… and the man feels a tug on his mouth!

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And the camera pans out and you can see the apple is attached to a fishing line that goes out into lake and the man is slowly reeled out into the lake. (HAAH!) I guess it was the fish’s revenge! I don’t know if animal rights activists made that skit … but it goes to show that …

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…the one fishing was the one who got caught, although he thought he was doing the fishing. That’s same way with sin and temptation. You think you’re just fishing for a little fun, excitement…you think it’s enjoyable to be angry…or it’s a thrill to touch that or look at that … and so you think you’re fishing …but the whole time, you’re the one being enticed.

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EXAMPLE: Like the boy going for the candy. Remember the boy who has a desire for candy? His mother told him only 1 piece of candy from the candy jar. But, when no one is looking, he looks both ways … and now he’s enticed…

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It’s the same with dads…you might say … “I don’t think I should let my family be involved in such and such b/c it’s spiritually harmful, but b/c my wife or kids are pressuring me”… and now he’s tempted…he’s at a cross roads… to allow this or not?

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Two points to understand here in temptation …

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First, understand this, that temptation is not sin. To be tempted is not sinful. Jesus Christ was tempted 3 times, as Matthew 4 and Luke 4 tell us. So in other words, you shouldn’t think to yourself, “I shouldn’t be tempted like this; I thought I was better than this.” No, even Jesus was tempted. So temptation is not wrong. You are not godly because you don’t have temptation; your godly when you learn to resist temptation.

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Secondly, turn back to 1 Co. 10:13 to see this: You can escape temptation. With God’s help, you can escape temptation. Just because you are tempted doesn’t mean you have to give in!

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1 Corinthians 10:13 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

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Your escape from temptation is based on the faithfulness of God. But we must learn to trust and to cling to Him who is faithful even when our desires are overwhelming us. Cultivate a trust in God to resist temptation. More on cultivating a trust later …

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TRANS: This is temptation…but what happens if we fail to resist temptation? This brings us to the second stage which is sin. If you fail to resist temptation, you will sin against God. This is back in James 1 now … James 1:15…where James writes

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  1. Sin

…. “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

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James now moves from fishing terms to child birth terms. But this is ironic because child birth is a beautiful thing … but not this kind of birth …

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Lust conceives…. When it does that, it gives birth to sin…. And when sin is accomplished, or as the ESV translates accomplished here…full-grown, when sin is full grown and all grown up … it too brings forth death…or gives birth to death is the idea. Conception giving birth, and bringing forth are all terms describing childbirth.

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So there are three generations in this verse. We have the harlot grandmother lust, conceiving and giving birth to sin. And sin is the second generation … sin is accomplished or sin grows up… and she too is a mother and she brings forth death. Lust, sin, and death 3 wicked generations.

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So let me ask this … when does your desire conceive to give birth to sin? James doesn’t tell us here, but it’s no doubt when the harlot lust gets involved with your will. When you make a choice to act on that temptation … You might be feeling the powerful emotion pulling you off the right path and enticing you…but it’s not until you choose to obey your evil desire that you sin. You sin when you choose to obey that evil desire. When you’re getting sucked into the abyss of worry, not until you begin to believe… “what if such and such happens” do you sin …

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EXAMPLE: Or that boy … With the candy. He was only allowed one piece of candy and when no one is looking…and now he makes the choice…and he’s sinned and he grabs that second piece of candy.

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At that moment the prostitute lust within that boy conceives and gave birth to sin. He’s now sinned against God.

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Sin

Sin here is simply failing to conform to God’s law by either some thought, attitude, or action. And as a human being, the Bible teaches that your sin has affected every part of your being…your mind, your body, your will, and your emotions. Everything about you has been defiled with sin.

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And if God still sees your sin this morning, He does not look upon you with approval. He cannot look upon sin with approval, the Scripture says.

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And when you sin, your sin is not primarily against you, against other people, or against your family, or against the government, your sin is against God. When you are angry with your spouse or your parents or your siblings, you have sinned against God. When you complain about your food or your circumstances, this is sin against God.

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ILL: In Numbers 11:1 God has just miraculously delivered His people from Egypt and he’s miraculously leading them through the wilderness, but the people ohh….the people…listen to this wording … the people became like those who complain of trouble. They became like those people… The New American Standard translates it literally…

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1 Now the people became like those who complain of adversity [or trouble] in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

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They had become like those who complain about trouble. Ah yes, like those kinds of people …yes, they became like those kinds of people who complain when bad things happen. And God is greatly displeased.

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TRANS: They didn’t resist the urge to complain…and failing to resist temptation results in sin.

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  1. Death

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And now our last stage, verse 15, “when sin is accomplished or full grown … when sin is full grown, it brings forth death.”

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We have here the full uninterrupted process … how your evil desires get in bed with your unrestrained will through which sin is born. That sin grows all the way up … when it’s full grown, it gives birth to death.

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What a shocking turnaround! The totally unexpected happens! The birth is not a birth of life, but death. How twisted! How deceitful! Our evil desires deceived us into thinking that life apart from God, if but for this moment, would be really living … but no! In the end, it only brings forth death.

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Death in what sense?

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The process is stated here as uninterrupted. Let’s consider this whole process for someone who never ever conforms to God’s will and temptation, sin, death … that process is unbroken.

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ILL: Susie is born, a joy to her parents. She’s a typical toddler and child not getting along with her siblings. She grows into her teen years and begins rebelling against her parents. She despises them at times. She leaves the house gets married, fights with her husband, has some children of her own, gets divorced, …she turns away the gospel witness of her friends…and she resists the impassioned appeals to repent and to flee to Christ, desiring her own life instead, thinking, “God’s ok with me.” No ….

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Suzy is spiritually dead…that means that she is separated from God and His eternal life. She has no life of God within her. Every day is the same. Her evil desires join with her unrestrained will …and it’s sin … nothing but sin…day after day…year after year…the whole time she’s dead. She’s dead even while she lives.

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James will say to us in the next chapter how even if you offend in one point of the whole law you are guilty of transgressing all of the law of God, deserving of hell.

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And the Bible says in Romans that “there is none righteous, no not even one.” Isaiah 64:6 says that all of our righteous acts are as filthy rags…our righteousness is not worth anything … Genesis chapter 6 and Genesis chapter 8 both teach that even the imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart are only evil all the time. No exception.

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What her conscience had been telling her her whole life is that because of her stubbornness and unrepentant heart she is storing up wrath for herself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. (Ro. 2:5)

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And then the day comes when her spirit leaves her body. After a heart attack, or cancer, or some accident, or a full life … now she’s physically dead. And when she who is spiritually dead physically dies, she is now eternally dead.

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Physical death will make eternal your present spiritual condition. “It is appointed unto men once to die after this the judgment.”

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And for Susie, that means hell and the lake of fire for all eternity. Why? Because this process that James described went on uninterrupted. Temptation…uninterrupted leads to sin … and sin uninterrupted will most certainly lead to death. Nothing intervened for her to save her soul.

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Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, …

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But that process does not have to go uninterrupted. It can be aborted.

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This is the glory of the good news of Jesus Christ! For all of human history up until Jesus Christ, there was sin upon sin upon sin. And the whole time … all of those Old Testament animal sacrifices …those animals couldn’t die to take away sin.

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But there came a glorious day when God the Father sent God the Son Jesus Christ into the world to be miraculously born, live a perfectly sinless life of self-sacrifice and miracles, and then to die.

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Death? For the Son of God? How does that make sense? Temptation … sin … death? He was tempted, but He didn’t sin. He always perfectly resisted every temptation in thought, word, or action. But he died. He died on the cross to be the perfect sacrifice for sin… To be that sacrifice that effectively takes away your sin.

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He took your place on that cross to die for you…so that you would not have to die forever for your sin, but instead receive eternal life.

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And all it takes to enjoy the benefit of eternal life and to live a life that’s glorifying to God is simply to trust him… Expressing a childlike faith in him, confessing your sin against him, and wanting to turn your heart away from the sin he hates.

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God proved all of this to be true when he raised his son from the dead … Death could not keep the righteous One in the grave, for He never sinned. And His life can now be our life in that whosoever would trust in him will likewise would be raised unto eternal life.

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Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life.” Have you received that free gift?

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But if you are here this morning and you have trusted in Jesus Christ, and God has saved you, you still sin. That process of temptation, sin, death … in a sense…needs to be aborted every day. This is where you ask God to forgive you of your sin.

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1 John 1:9 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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Confess your sins to Him and receive that cleansing. When you sin, there is something between your soul and your Savior. And it is separating you from him. It’s a kind of death as you’ve been cut off from God … You must get that right. You must confess your sin.

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Believer think of this, do you really want to go down the road that separates people from God for all of eternity? Do you want to toy with those ambitions …those worldly desires that trap and ensnare the lost to cast them into Hell? Are you toying with that direction in your life?

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Repent, change your mind, and get back on track with God.

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TRANS: Well, how are we going to overcome sin?

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  1. Overcoming Sin
    1. Pray to avoid temptation/Limit opportunity.

First of all, to overcome sin … you should pray to avoid temptation. Jesus taught us to pray this. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Pray to avoid temptation.

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There will be those times when you are tempted nevertheless. So within your human capacity, limit your opportunity as well. Limit your opportunity to sin.

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This is where limiting television, friendships… video games, and movies, some radio, and Internet access is helpful…yes, required for you to successfully resist temptations.

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So pray to avoid temptation and limit your opportunity.

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Also to resist temptation, you need to encourage godly desires. Encourage godly desires What’s the problem in this passage? What’s your greatest enemy? It’s your evil desires! And so to counter that, you need strong godly desires in your heart. You need to encourage godly desires.

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How are you going to do that? By getting with God! To resist temptation, you have to be exposed to God’s power and to the ways he gives you grace. How is God going to help you? As you bow your heart and will to His Word. As you pray over what he has told you already in His Word. As you fellowship with God’s people and as you pray with God’s people.

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As you encourage these godly desires and godly habits, you will resist temptation. But if you don’t do this… And you neglect his word and forget to pray, and you forsake Bible times with your family… You are only creating more opportunity for those evil desires in your family to grow stronger and stronger.

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So pray to avoid temptation, limit your opportunities to be tempted, encourage godly desires in your life, and now practice self-control. There used to be a day when Christians would purposefully on occasion not partake in certain good things simply to practice self control. Nothing wrong with partaking in these certain things, but out of desire to practice self-control, they wouldn’t partake in them. Doing that strengthens your will to do right at other times in your life. Exercising self-control and limiting even good things in your life can help you when you’re tempted to sin.

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You can say, “you know, we could watch this wholesome show, but instead tonight were going to practice self-control and do something else.” Or you could say, “I don’t think it would be wrong to have dessert tonight, but to practice self-control, let’s skip it tonight.”

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Practice guarding your appetites is the point.

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Finally to help you overcome sin, like we mentioned, confess your sin. And repent of it … practice repentance. When was the last time you asked God to forgive you of your sin, that was not on a Sunday morning? When was the last time that you prayed that the Lord would deliver you from temptation that was not on a Sunday morning?

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CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of James 1.14-18

Now look, what have you done? In a moment, we’re all going to bow and respond silently to the message …

Have you sinned against the Lord? Do you not think there is mercy with the Lord? Do you feel yourself oppressed sometimes by your sin? Do you think He doesn’t know? Do you think He doesn’t care and He’s just some harsh Father…now, dear child, he’s died for you…with great love in His heart, knowing of every sin you’d commit, he died for you. Yes, there is mercy with the Lord,… if you flee to the cross, you will surely find rest and acceptance, open arms … so though you feel yourself like the prodigal son and you’ve run far away, come back…he’s waiting and watching to receive you with open arms.

Are you in the visegrip of some temptation? Talk to the Lord about it and practice these things to overcome it.

Perhaps your here and you don’t have the assurance, confidence of eternal life. You don’t know that if you’d die today, you’d be in heaven… if that’s you, please come and talk with me or call me and let’s get together. Or during our moment of silence here, you can pray to the Lord about that …

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[invitation]

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297 Only trust him.

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Go to James Main Page

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  1. http://phys.org/news/2010-01-lsu-professor-technology-mystery-fishing.html

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