It is the person who is able to control their emotional responses that is going to deal effectively with sin.
Or the person who, if feeling those emotional responses, has a mind that is sanctified and when it gets from the emotions to the mind, it is halted at that point. When you lose your job of 20 years, or when your doctor or the police call you with bad news, or when disaster strikes and you're tempted to doubt God's goodness and His care for you, how will you respond? The Bible says that in this life, you will have trouble. But God's Word also shows you how to know peace and joy and avoid the temptation to sin, even in your darkest days. You're not going to want to miss John MacArthur's lesson today on grace to you as he continues a tremendously practical study titled, Benefiting from Life's Trials.
And now with a lesson, here is John MacArthur. Now if I fall into sin, whose fault is it? Is it God's fault who brings the trials or allows them? Is it the fault of my circumstances? Is it the fault of my being created by God the way I am and I can't help it?
Whose fault is it? There are five proofs that God is not responsible for temptation and therefore sin. Number one, the nature of evil.
The nature of evil. All evil repulses God. It can find no place in His holy character.
So the nature of evil is infinitely apart from the holiness of God. In Leviticus 19, it says the Lord is holy. In Leviticus 20, 26, the Lord is holy. In Isaiah 6, holy, holy, holy. First Peter 1, 16, the Lord is holy.
Holiness cannot be penetrated by sin. Secondly, the nature of man. Not only what evil is, but what man is. Look at verse 14. This is so interesting. But every man is tempted, or literally ekastas, every one or each one, but each one, each individual is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.
Now there's the problem. The problem is that even though we've been redeemed and even though we've received a new nature and even though we are created in Christ Jesus, we still have an enemy within. And it is passion.
It is that longing to be satisfied with something which in and of itself may be a good thing. We don't need Satan. We don't need demons. We don't even need the world.
All we need is the resonant passion of the flesh and it will move out toward the baited hooks. So God is not responsible for our being tempted and our sin. The nature of evil tells us that because it has no part in the nature of God. Secondly, the nature of man tells us where the problem is.
It's in us. Lust is the culprit. Now James takes us to a third thought, expanding that second one. The third proof that God is not the source of sin is the nature of lust. Having identified lust in the nature of man, he now goes on to discuss it in verses 15 and 16 in very, very practical and helpful terms.
And this is what I want you to focus on. This is really the heart of the message for our own life. James shifts metaphors away from hunting and fishing to childbirth as he comes to verse 15 and discusses the nature of lust. Then, he says, when lust has conceived, and he sees lust here as a mother conceiving, it will bring forth a child, the child is sin, and sin when it comes forth doesn't do anything but produce what? Death.
Oh, this is so very, very helpful. Listen carefully. Most people think of sin as a solitary act or a series of acts or behaviors. God is saying here that sin is not an act. Sin is the result of a process.
Okay? It is the result of a process. It starts with, and I'll give you some D's so you can write them down and remember them. It starts with desire, epithymia or lust. Desire is related to emotion. It begins with a feeling. It begins with that feeling of wanting to be satisfied, wanting to acquire something to satisfy you, something new, something that's been dangled in front of your face. You saw it in the jewelry store. You saw it on the car lot.
You saw it in the mall or wherever. Or there's a house and you keep driving by it all the time, and it's strictly emotion. It does something to you.
It makes you feel a longing. That's where it all starts. Sin begins with the desire. The second D is deception. And right alongside the word deception, write the word mind. What happens is you start with the desire and your emotion, and then it comes to a deception in your mind because you begin to justify and rationalize the right that you have for that which you desire.
Right? This is just the inevitable pattern. Now that's what we found in verse 14, being drawn away and enticed. The hook is baited.
The trap is baited. It deceives the intellect. The intellect looks and says, I have a right to that. That looks good. That'll satisfy me. That'll meet my need.
That'll quaff my desire. And so what starts with desire and the emotion moves to deception in the mind, and you really believe you have a right to it. You believe that it's there and it's beautiful. You believe it's fulfilling. You believe it'll give you what you want.
So you move out, and what happens? Lust conceives. Let's call this the third D, design. Now the concept of how you're going to pull the sin off begins to form. This occurs in the will. You've gone from the emotions to the mind. Now your will is active, and you're toying with your mind. What your mind has already concluded, your will is forming into a design. When lust has conceived, then the design begins to form. By the way, the word conceived literally means to become pregnant. When lust, when lust as it were, is seduced by the prostitution of that baited hook, it becomes pregnant.
And the design is conceived, if you will, in the womb of a person's soul. Emotion desires something satisfying but wrong. It then moves to the mind and convinces itself it has every right to it, and having convinced itself of that, it then conceives the sin itself. The sin being conceived.
And then we have the fourth D, disobedience. The act occurs. It brings forth sin. Any child that is born is born of that same process. First there is a desire between a man and a woman. That desire for a child is then actuated in their mind. They decide to do that. They make up their mind that they want to do that. They then conceive that child.
They then later give birth to that child. And so it is with sin. It is conceived as a desire initially in the mind. It is then justified in the emotion. It is then justified in the mind. It is conceived in the will and brought about in the behavior. That's the sequence. The word it brings forth sin.
You see it there? It means to give birth. And it occurs in the behavior. So next to disobedience, right behavior. The actual act from the emotion to the mind to the will to the behavior. The emotions lead the mind to rationalize. The rationalized mind leads the will to plan. And now the baby is born and the deed is done and it all began with the desire.
Now let me tell you something very practical. At what point then in our lives do we deal with sin? Out here at the level of behavior? No.
Way back at the level of what? Of desire. It is the person who is able to control their emotional responses that is going to deal effectively with sin. Or the person who if feeling those emotional responses has a mind that is sanctified and when it gets from the emotions to the mind it is halted at that point. If it makes it to the will and something is conceived it will be born. A child conceived is a child born. That child's got to come out. And so in dealing with sin in our lives we don't just deal on the end of the line.
Effectively we've got to go way back to the beginning. If the emotions are allowed to be exposed to the baited hook, you've got problems. And you know, everything in our evil society will work on your emotions. All the dramatic things, all the movies and television and books and music and clothing and all the alluring sights and sounds and things that attract our attention are all designed first to capture the emotion. There's all a facade that is intended to allure us. Even advertising on television just boggles my mind. I watch how they sell a car and you have no idea about the mechanics of the car which is nothing more than a piece of machinery.
Nothing except some goofy kind of dramatics and wild crazy music and space age things flying all over everywhere. And what does that have to do with the car? It has absolutely nothing to do with the car but it has everything to do with your what? Your emotions. Your emotions. That's where it all begins. That's where it all begins.
A woman puts on perfume and leaves a trail. That is not for your intellect. We need to guard at the level of emotion and secondly at the level of mind. And so the mind is to be brought into captivity to Christ.
Isn't that a great truth? Bringing everything in the mind into captivity to Christ. An unprotected, uncontrolled, unyielded mind is going to be filled with evil images. So I have to control my emotions.
I have to control my mind because that's where the thing gets started. So I want to be sure that my emotions are given over to the things of God. You know what's a wonderful blessing in that regard? Is good Christian music because I love music and everybody does and music is basically emotional more than cognitive. A lot of it is cognitive but the bulk of it is emotional. And isn't it wonderful that we have the privilege in these days and these times to get the emotional enjoyment and have the singing soul and the feelings that we get through music that honors God?
And isn't it wonderful when little kids growing up learn all that good Christian music so that their emotional responses and their joys and their sorrows can be set to music that is basically music glorifying God rather than music of the world? There are ways that we deal with our emotions. You cannot expose your emotions continually to things which lure you away from the things of God.
You can't do that without paying a dear price. And the mind? It's very simple. You need the mind of Christ. You need a renewed mind. You need a mind that is set on things above and not on things on the earth. You need a mind that is saturated with the word of Christ dwelling in it richly. You need a mind, Paul says in Romans 12 that is transformed and not conformed to the world. You need to, can I put it simply, love the Lord your God with all your mind. What's in your mind?
What's in your mind? If your mind feeds on the word of God, then you're going to stop sin way back. If your emotions are under the control of the Spirit of God and your feelings have been brought captive to Him, you're going to stop sin back where it starts. If you let your emotions go and expose them to everything the world is throwing out and you let your mind be an open door for everything to fly in and out and it's not cultivated and plowed deeply with the word of God, then you will conceive sin and you will bring forth the child.
And may I add what he does add in verse 15? And when sin is completed, apakue means to cease to be pregnant. When sin does give birth, it's a synonym to tiktay, the other verb used, it brings forth sin and when sin is brought forth, all it brings is what? Is death. When sin is born, it is born a murderer.
What a picture, what a picture. The emotion and out of the emotion comes the decision and out of the decision comes the conception of the will and then the behavior and the imagery of the bearing of a child is so beautiful until it comes to the end when the child is born and the child turns out to be a killer. Sin is a killer. The wages of sin is what? Death. Spiritual death separating the soul from God, physical death separating the soul from the body, eternal death separating the soul and body from God. And he's not here particularly talking about Christians or non-Christians, he's just saying all sin ever produces is death, even for a believer. It can be physical death as 1 Corinthians 11 and 1 John 5 16 demonstrate. All kinds of death flows out of sin.
So the idea that you're bringing some satisfying behavior to life is a lie. All you bring is sin and all sin brings is death. And so he says in verse 16, stop being led astray my beloved brethren. Stop being deceived.
It's again that word that we get the word planet from as if something is wandering off. Know where the trouble is, he's saying. Don't be deceived. Stop blaming God and start blaming yourself and start looking within and don't go blindly through life just accepting what is and then blaming God. Realize that you have within you an enemy and that enemy is your own fallenness and your own last and that enemy must be dealt with. You cannot expose your emotion to everything that lures you. You cannot let your mind become captive to those things.
You've got to know where the problem is, not be deceived about it, go back there and deal with it at that level. Stop it at the start. Fill your mind with the things of God so that they can never mate with your feelings and conceive sin in your will. If your emotions are controlled or if your mind is controlled, either one leaves the other without a mate to conceive sin. The nature of evil, the nature of man and the nature of lust eliminate the fact that God could ever tempt us to sin. And then a direct proof, the nature of God. Verse 17. Look at this. This is so marvelous. The nature of God. Here's the heart of the text.
Just grab this. No one can blame God for sin because every good gift and every perfect gift is from above. I mean the only things that come down from Him are what?
Are good and perfect. We possess a nature that gives rise to sin. God does not. The nature of God is such that it only produces good.
This is a two-fold thing. On the negative side, what it's saying is God could never produce sin. On the positive side, get this, what it's saying is God is going to pour out good, good, good, good, good, good and more good. Why in the world are you going after baited hooks to be satisfied when God is pouring out everything you could ever use for all your satisfaction? The negative side, God could never produce evil.
He's good. The positive side, He produces unending and unbounded good that makes a person a fool who would be tempted to be lured away to some baited hook or baited trap when all the goodness of God is available by His grace. Our flesh is a well of foul water when we think about what it does.
And why would we ever drink from that when we can come to the well, to the fountain of life Himself? God gives us every good and perfect gift. Would you notice the two everys, every, every, all inclusive, all inclusive, every, every. Would you notice the two gifts, gift, gift? One is dosus, it means the act of giving.
One is dorema, it means the gift given. Every act of giving and every gift given in the act of giving is good and perfect. Good means good.
There's no comparative for it. It isn't good, gooder and goodest. It's just good. It's complete. It lacks nothing. It's all sufficient.
It is perfect, comprehensive. Every, every good gift, every, every good gift giving by God is perfect, beneficial, absolutely complete. Back to verse 17, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and is coming down. It's all from above.
It's all flowing down. How foolish to grab the luring bait of sin. How stupid to climb into the trap when every good and perfect gift is coming down like rain out of heaven upon us.
Satan tried to, Satan tried to tell Eve that God was holding out on her. God isn't letting you have the best. You better grab that satisfaction.
You better grab that best. God's kept the best from you. She bought that lie and the child was conceived and born and the child was death.
The child was death. Every good, every perfect thing is going to be his joy to give to us. They come down from him. Notice he's called the father of lights. That is a great statement. That was an ancient Jewish way of referring to God as creator. The lights they have in mind are the sun, moon and the stars. He is the father of the lights, the celestial bodies. You say, why is he choosing that title? Because it fits his illustration. He is the father of lights but with him there's no variation and no shifting shadow.
Very graphic, very graphic. He is the one who created all the stellar bodies. He created all of them but he's not like them. They vary, they change, they dim, they brighten, they bring light, they cast shadow, they're here in the daytime, gone at night, here at night, gone in the daytime.
Their benefit to us comes and goes. God isn't like that. God's brilliant, bright light of glory and light of goodness and light of grace is no varying thing.
It is not a, and he uses the term paralogia, we get parallax from it. It doesn't pass from one condition to another. It doesn't have shadows. It never goes dark. 1 John 1.5, in him is no what?
Darkness at all. Malachi 3.6, I am the Lord, I change not. God's brilliant, bright light of glory and light of goodness and light of grace is no varying thing. It is not a, and he uses the term paralogia, we get parallax from it.
It doesn't pass from one condition to another. It doesn't have shadows. It never goes dark. 1 John 1.5, in him is no what?
Darkness at all. Malachi 3.6, I am the Lord, I change not. There are no days when he stops giving spiritual gifts. There are no days when he stops giving spiritual light. Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace. Streams of mercy, what's the next words? Never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
The streams of mercy never cease. Nothing can eclipse God's goodness. Nothing can stop his benevolence. Nothing can interrupt the flow of his heavenly light. Don't take the devil's bait. Don't conceive and give birth to a deadly child that could spell your own death. God gives all good and only good. Who's responsible for sin? You are.
That's right, you are. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us. John has titled his current study from James chapter 1, Benefiting from Life's Trials.
John, I can't think of a more relevant study. All of us have suffered, or we will suffer one day, and we all have friends or loved ones that have gone through unbearable tragedies. When that happens, when someone we know and love is suffering, we all want to know what to say, but perhaps more helpful is knowing what not to say. So talk about that a little bit. What shouldn't you say to someone as they're going through a trial?
I think the best illustration of that is Job's friends. They sat for a week and didn't say anything. They didn't say anything. They just sat in loving, quiet compassion and companionship and didn't say anything. Then when they opened their mouths, all wisdom flew out, and everything they said was stupid. The first thing that they said that was wrong was that this is happening to you because of sin.
Right. This is very much like the Pharisees said about the blind man, who sinned, this man or his parents. I mean, he's blind. He must have sinned or somebody sinned. That's the bad advice of Job's friends. And they were relentless with Job. No matter how Job said, wait a minute, I don't know any sin in my life.
I can't identify anything. They were relentless. They would not let him off the hook. They had a theology that says you get what you deserve. You get what you deserve. If bad things happen in your life, it's because you're a bad person. That's pretty conventional wisdom.
It really is. I mean, just plain earthly wisdom. Be a good person and things will go good for you.
Be a bad person and you're going to be in trouble. I think that's the one thing you want to avoid is sitting in judgment on why something's happening in someone's life because you don't know that. I mean, there are some cases where you do know that there's a person in sin and there have been trials that have come into that life. But even in that regard, you know, we're not the ones who are going to say this happened because this was caused by their sin.
So I think you avoid that. I think you show comfort and compassion and care and love to the person who suffers. Peter's lesson where he was unfaithful to the Lord and the Lord put him through that and said to him, now that you've gone through that, you can strengthen the brethren, moves to the positive side.
So you don't want to say this is happening to you because you're bad. You also want to be able to say, I've been through suffering and I can tell you there's hope at the other end. And Peter could encourage people who went through the worst of trials and Peter's trial was self-inflicted by his denials. But Peter was restored and converted is the term that's used. And he could then strengthen the brothers who also would go through trials. So avoid drawing conclusions about sin and suffering and affirm people that you've been through suffering and you know the ends are for your good and God's glory.
That's right. And thank you, John. That is very helpful. And friend, perhaps something you've heard on Grace To You has comforted you in suffering or equipped you to comfort others during their trials or helped you overcome sin. However this broadcast has benefited you, we'd love to hear your story. When you have a moment, just jot us a note and send it our way. Our email address here, letters at gty.org.
One more time, that's letters at gty.org. You can also send your letter to Grace To You, Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. Well, as we've been saying, our current study, Benefiting From Life's Trials, comes from the book of James. And in addition to the encouragement James provides for times of suffering, it has practical teaching on genuine faith, handling money the right way, controlling your speech, and much more. To help you glean all you can from the Epistle of James, John MacArthur has written a commentary on this book of Scripture. It's part of the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series, and it's a great resource for personal Bible study or family devotions or sermon preparation. The James volume of the MacArthur New Testament Commentary Series costs $19, and shipping is free. To place your order, call 800-55-GRACE, or you can order online at gty.org.
That's our website, gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, inviting you back for our next broadcast. There's a lot more to learn about finding hope and victory in your trials. Refitting From Life's Trials, that's the title of John's current study. Be here for that tomorrow. We'll be here with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
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