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Concerning Temptation (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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April 18, 2024 6:00 am

Concerning Temptation (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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April 18, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5

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Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

You be wise to be wise. Understand if God is God, and He is, He is no problem defending the truths of Scripture.

And if there are those that want to bicker about a comma or a dash or something like that, let them have it. But anyway, salvation is the meaning of life for us now that we believe. How much, how much junk for those of you who have been saved for a while before you became a believer? What were you occupied with?

What on earth were you doing? This is Cross Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Pastor Rick is currently teaching through the book of James. Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross Reference Radio.

Specifically, how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of James chapter 1 as he begins his message concerning temptation. Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of his own will, he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. Well, as was the custom in those days, when a letter arrived at a church from one of the leaders in Christianity, it would be read in the service, much as I just read portion now, only it would be certainly a larger section read, if not all of it. And James, when his letter arrived in the various Jewish assemblies, Christian assemblies, after it was read, there was so much for them to think about concerning their behavior in the presence of Christ. And it is to our benefit to not only review these things, but to review them over and over and over again, because that is what it takes to go deep into the depths of obedience and serving our Lord.

We seek to obey him because he is right, because we love him, and because he is worthy. Concerning temptation, that is the emphasis of this passage for our morning's consideration. And of course, knowing that James grew up in the same house with Jesus Christ, we wished that he would have written something about that, too. We just wish he would say something, some anecdote.

I remember a time when, and we don't hear it, it doesn't happen. Maybe because he was hounded by so many people. Tell us more about growing up with Christ. But largely, his letter is a commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, and the more familiar you are with the Sermon on the Mount, the better James, I think, will be to you.

You will get more out of it. But this man, James, sent by God, was a key part of the transition of the church. As we discussed in our introduction, Paul and James were two different men, called to do two different things for the same master. Those two different things did not contradict.

They complimented. But had there not been a man like James, so many Jews would not have made it into the kingdom during his time. It's such a difficult time to make that transition from something you were raised with all your life to finally this profound fulfillment of ancient prophecy right before you.

It was just very difficult, but God pulled it off. And when we get to heaven, there will be many Jews in heaven from that first century church that are there because of the complementary work of Paul and James together. Paul was just too much.

He was too much for so many of them. But God filled in the blanks with this man. And that might help you understand a little bit more some of the differences between James and Paul's character and how they behaved with each other. And yet, as you read through James' letter and Paul's letters, you find out the same, the identical things.

And it is quite marvelous. When you come to Scripture, and there's a section that seems to be a discrepancy or contradiction, always give God the benefit of the doubt. Stay away from the doubting brick road. Don't go down it. It's not worth it. It's not a dead end.

It goes off a cliff. And you be wise to be wise. Understand, if God is God, and He is, He is no problem defending the truths of Scripture.

And if there are those that want to bicker about a comma or a dash or something like that, let them have it. But anyway, salvation is the meaning of life for us now that we believe. How much junk, for those of you who have been saved for a while, before you became a believer, what were you occupied with? What on earth were you doing? I think about my own life and say, what was it?

It's nothing. I was just trying to get all the time a better job, a better this, a get to the weekend. That's what my life was about. Now that I serve Christ, my life is about knowing Him, what He wants, and doing it His way. And that creates problems, but they're better problems than what I had before.

One of the problems it creates is that I have to face temptation. Those things that pull me away from going deeper and deeper into my walk with Him. This learning the life of Christ as a Christian is going to take everything you've got. And that's where we get tripped up as we try to give Him sections, a portion. He wants it all.

He deserves it all. And He has decided that if we're going to be His children, we deserve it too, because it is a better life. But it's a struggle. Paul made it clear that the only way you're going to enter into this phase of life, this meaningful life, is through the Holy Spirit that the world cannot get you there. 1 Corinthians 1, For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

It pleased God, not through the preaching of foolishness, but the foolishness of the message as perceived by the world. So, here you are, maybe you are an older Christian, maybe you're in mid-life, maybe your kids are now out of the home, you've got all this time on your hands. What do you do? You go to the Lord and you say, here's my time. I put it on the altar.

What would you have me do with it? Don't get caught up in ringing your fingers and fretting, and not wanting to get up in the morning. It gets old after a while. And then again, you younger Christians, life is before you. You're getting ready for adulthood.

Start now, establishing good spiritual habits, so that you can face the future the way God would have you face it. You come to a church like this that goes through the scripture, eventually verse by verse. And if you measure your experience by what you don't understand, you're not going to get anywhere. But if you measure it by what you do get, and you do get something, because God's word doesn't return void. You may not get all that I want you to get, who does? But you will get what He wants you to receive if you are open for it. And so make up your mind, what is your life?

Who does it belong to? And so James now, having pointed out to these believers that testings and trials in life, they come with a purpose. In verse 3 he said, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

You're going to need that. And now he's going to point to us other things about this life concerning the temptation that pulls us away from obedience. Now we look at verse 12, blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, by which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Blessed is the man who endures temptation. Well, everybody has to face it, even those who are not believers. Now that Greek word endure means to bear, to stay under, to take it. But you can go through experiences in a way that the world is enduring them, which means nothing to God, because you did not go through it honorably. You did not go through these trials and hardships according to the faith. This is what Job, you know, it was all about Job saying, look, I'm not going to surrender my integrity.

If God is punishing me for something that I did, then you should be suffering with me too. He knew that. He knew that there was something bigger here. He didn't understand it enough. But in all these things, he did not curse the Lord. His wife said, you need to just curse God and stop the suffering, because her vision, her view was finite.

It was limited. And he saw beyond this life, and so are we too. So when we suffer, when we go through something, it could not be something that is so bad and horrible. It could not necessarily be some great illness. It could just be the things of life, just not allowing us to be at peace with ourselves, to not be happy. Maybe it's loneliness.

Maybe it's something else. Whatever it is, may we be courageous as Christ was. How meaningless, crucifying Him on the cross. And Paul, of course, preaching love and righteousness and salvation, and he gets beaten and stoned and things like that. And then there was Stephen, who told it like it was.

There's nothing about his sermon they could disagree with. And because they could not disagree, they killed him. But he faced it courageously. And as he was being stoned to death, he prayed for those who were killing him.

He prayed for their souls. A little unlike Elijah. Even those subtle temptations we've got to be careful of, you know, criticisms. I've never been criticized myself, but... pettiness, that's another one we might think is okay. How about the tongue of the fool? Have you ever had that tongue? I'm sure you have.

You just say something mean and unnecessary and self-serving to make the other person feel little, but you've said it. Know-it-alls. Everybody likes a know-it-all.

Who really, truly, they don't know it all. These are the subtle ones. I don't have to mention the larger ones because you are more mindful of those.

You know, when I'm driving in on a Sunday morning, there are a few people on the road, but there's always at least one or two out there, nonetheless, at five o'clock in the morning. I think God put them there just for me because it's all about me. My point is, the temptations are there.

God really did not put them there. Life has them and we better be serious about it to bear them. Testings that come our way, they will either draw us to Christ or they will distance us from Christ. It's up to us each time. It is up to you and no one else.

The things that come your way, they will either draw you to Him or distance you from Him. It is up to you. You cannot blame anyone else and that is where He is going with this. But when I fail, when I mess it up, when I don't bear the trial, the temptation, the way God wants me to, as a new Christian, you probably have heightened levels of shame. You hate that you blew it again. But maybe as the years go by, you've gotten so used to failing that it really doesn't bother you so much. You're redlining.

You better be careful. But there's more to it. When you fail as a Christian, God does not love you less.

His love for you is just as passionate, as focused, as hot as it has ever been and it always will be. It will not diminish because you've failed. You have this invincible salvation. Now that does not mean that things are going to work out well for you. And if it doesn't, it's because you're not allowing it to.

You're allowing your failures to sideline you, to sit you on the bench, instead of driving you forward. God, in contrasting the behavior of those who made idols for themselves with His people, says this through the prophet Isaiah. Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you.

Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Now, if you've gone through the prophecies of Isaiah, you're saying to yourself, those people? Well, if God can say to His people who are plagued by failures, I will be with you, how much more for us knowing this side of the cross of Christ?

And so, let's go forward with this very thing. He says here in verse 12, for when He has been approved, that is literally when He has been tested, when He has come through it, knowing the testing of your faith, this approval means you're still serving. You're still believing. You're still trying to obey. You are still committed to Christ.

Of course, it goes all the way to the end, but before you get to the end, before we get to heaven, we're still trying to do the right thing. Contrast King Rehoboam. He really didn't see the benefit of being inconvenienced by all those moral laws of Moses.

So he opted out. And we read of King Rehoboam. He did evil because he did not prepare his heart to seek Yahweh. Contrasted with a man named Ezra. Ezra chapter 7, we read, Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of Yahweh and to do it. And so we have here this contrast of characters, both facing the same temptations essentially, not different brands, yes, but the same intensity on the soul to be disobedient. One distanced himself from God and the other one draws closer all the time in spite of failures. And Ezra had failures. He writes about them, how he must have felt as one of the spiritual leaders of his people just to see the people dissolve in their faith and get it all wrong.

But he held strong. So when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life. Now in those days, the crown, the stefanos is the Greek word there for crown, opposed to another Greek word used for a crown in the English translated diadem.

We'll get to that momentarily, not too much time on it. But the garland, the wreath on the head was given to those who had exhibited faithful service. It was an award. The diadem, however, that belongs to royalty, even if it is wicked royalty when in use of the word, not of course recognition from God. It shows up only in Revelation and there it is applied to the king of wickedness, but also and ultimately to the king of kings in Revelation 19.

And so I just pause there for a minute because we're talking about the crown. He will receive the crown of life. Well, we're not going to receive the diadem, the crown of Christ, but we will be rewarded for our service in Christ if we face these things.

The other place that this, the only other place, this phrase the crown of life is used in the New Testament is for those being persecuted for Christ, the beloved church of Smyrna. Revelation chapter 2, do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. You know, God just has this outlook on life that is just weird to the flesh. What do you mean don't fear what I'm about to suffer? Suffering means fear, but that's not how he sees it. And he says, indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison. Well, Lord, since you know these things, why don't you stop him? It's important we understand that we are at war every bit of it spiritually.

It's not just something to talk about, though we must. He continues that you may be tested. This is summing up what James was talking about here. These faithful believers, Satan's coming their way. God's not sending them, but he's not stopping them either. That does not make him guilty. It is his prerogative to allow or disallow for his purposes. And there's a grand difference between the purposes of God allowing testing and Satan asking to test.

They had to get permission, those demonic beings, to come against the church as they did with Job, that you may be tested and you will have tribulation ten days. That's an expression. Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life. King Asa, the king, was told, be strong. Do not let your hands be weak and your work will be rewarded. We have to remember that.

We're not mercenaries only serving for some treasure. But at the same time, he has promised a crown of life, a reward, a recognition. For time tested faith, there are other crowns in scripture. There's a crown of thorn that our Savior wore. There's a crown of joy that Paul had concerning the church. The imperishable crown, the crown of rejoicing, of righteousness, of life, of glory. And then a crown to be tossed at the feet of the king. All this says, God is mindful of what you go through in this life.

All of it, all the time, and he will make good on it. Not when he's good and ready, when you get to heaven. Here too, yes, there are blessings, we're coming to that. He says here in verse 12, which the Lord promised to those who love him. Love secures the crown. How many of you are too busy praying for other things and not love?

I could raise my hand. I hope as I get older in Christ, I remember more and more how critical love is. What good is your faith if you have not love?

What good is your, oh I speak in tongue, group, if you have not love? But if I have not love, I have become a nuisance to God, annoying to God. Again, don't suppose that because this life is defective, that God's word is defective. That his promises are defective. Don't suppose that because you suffer that God is impotent.

He is not. He knows it all and he's doing all that he must do to accomplish his goal. And his goal in this life for us is us. Salvation of sinners. So we spend ourselves going deeper into the depths of obedience, being as useful to him as possible. If you're going to be useful to Christ, you're going to have to get your feelings hurt. You're going to have to experience some confusion. In this country, in other countries you get beat up and put in a gulag, some of them, but in this country you have to be tough enough to stick by what you know is right regardless of what everybody else is doing that is not right. And the American church unfortunately is infested with screwball ideas when it comes to ministry of the faith.

Well, they pick it up mostly from the corporate world. God did not entrust the faith to boards and big wheels. He entrusted it to saints.

Obedient to him, desirous for him. We can steward what God gives us without asking the world how to do it. Though, again, we benefit from those who have learned out in the world they have amassed the information that God has put in their possession to use on his behalf. Well, continuing here with which the Lord has promised to those who love him. Remember I said God gets the benefit of the doubt.

That should be how it always is. Unfortunately, many times there are those that do not give him the benefit of the doubt. They, aha, he's wrong, aha, it's not true. Jesus said this on the Sermon on the Mount. He said, after all these things unbelievers seek. Your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, that's obedience. And all these things will be added to you.

And often times we shove off, you know, out into the sea a few yards and we find out, hey, I didn't get it, I'm turning back. Thanks for joining us today as we took a deeper look into the book of James here on Cross Reference Radio. Cross Reference Radio is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We're blessed to bring you God's word with each broadcast. If you'd like more information or want to listen to additional teachings from Pastor Rick, please visit our website, crossreferenceradio.com. If you've been blessed by this program, we'd love to hear from you. When you visit the website, simply click on the contact us link at the top of the page and leave us a message. That website again is crossreferenceradio.com. Please join us again next time as we continue our study through the book of James right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-18 08:49:51 / 2024-04-18 08:59:02 / 9

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