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Concerning Temptation (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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April 19, 2024 6:00 am

Concerning Temptation (Part B)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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April 19, 2024 6:00 am

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

Cross Reference Radio
Pastor Rick Gaston

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 failed. You have this invincible salvation. Now that does not mean that things are going to work out.

It will work out well for you and if it doesn't, it's because you're not allowing it to. Today, Pastor Rick continues with his message called Concerning Temptation as he continues to teach through James chapter 1. It 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. Petitness. 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. The 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 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. In 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, as 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, 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.

And 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. To 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 our 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, but your Heavenly Father knows that you need these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. That's obedience. And all these things will be added to you.

And oftentimes 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. We would never say it that way, but I think sometimes we do it that way. 1 Corinthians 13, love bears all things, believes all things. There's the benefit of the doubt to God. It doesn't believe every and anything. It believes what the Scripture and the Spirit has impressed upon us, hopes all things, it hopes in what the Scripture says and the Spirit has impressed upon us, endures all things that God has allowed into our lives, which is anything that hurts, although there are self-inflicted wounds.

Love never fails. I have that on my wedding ring. I have to read it often. No, I don't. It's a joke. Lighten up.

That's not funny. Well, you know, maybe if you're going through struggles in your marriage, you may be a little sensitive there. If you are a Christian and you are going through struggles in your marriage, God wants to struggle with you to make that marriage survive and overcome and shine brightly and don't you give up till death do you part.

You love each other with a Christian love, not the worldly stuff. You say, well, I found out they weren't what I was supposed, they thought they would be. Too late. Now it's time to get busy and understand God is working with you.

I encourage you, if you haven't bought the Wonders of Grace, the ministry journal of the ministry of Charles Spurgeon, go to the book's chapel store and get it and read about what those Christians were going through also in loving the Lord all the way through and letting their light shine and making converts. So be strong. Be encouraged. Your labor is not in vain in your marriage or any other relationship you have in this life.

Maybe it's not a marriage. Maybe it's a bully in the workplace. How do you deal with a bully?

Mixed martial arts. No. No.

No. Verse 13. Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone. So James makes it clear that God allows these things in our life to try us, to test us, but not to cause us to sin. God never tries to get us to sin, even though he allows those things that do try to get us to sin.

You say, what's the difference? Well, before we get to that, when he starts off in verse 13, let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. Right out the starting gate, he says, don't shift the blame. Don't say God made me do it. It may feel convenient, but it is sinful. It is lying about the person character of God. God will not let people blame him for their sin.

It is a slander on his character. We are to blame ourselves for bad behavior. You say, but I have a sinful nature. That's right, but that doesn't excuse you.

You're still the guilty one. That's where grace comes in, if you will have it. Adam made this, he insinuates, well, he came out and said it actually. Genesis 3, this is after they of course sinned. Both of them had taken of the forbidden fruit.

Then the man said, now he's standing up like a man, not really. The woman, you gave me your fall. You gave me the resources to sin. She gave me of the tree and I ate. So he blames, you know, well God you gave it to her, to me she gave me the fruit. What was I supposed to do? Not eat.

That's what you were supposed to do. How does God handle it? He just dismisses it.

This is not, no point in talking to this one right now about that. He's just, he's got other issues. Anyway, why did he just not leave out the woman you gave me? Why did he not just say the woman gave it to me? Yeah, because that's what we do, want to blame as many other people as possible.

Everybody else but me. Well, he says, for God cannot be tempted by evil. You know God is not susceptible to sin. When Jesus was in the wilderness and Satan tempted him, it wasn't demonstrating that, it wasn't saying, what if he sinned? He could not sin. That was the demonstration.

The demonstration is I'm not like anyone else you've ever had an experience with. The demonstration to the church, to everyone who come in contact with Jesus Christ is, he is the sinless one. It's not in him.

He said the rule of this world has nothing in me. And that's what the temptation was all about. I know there are those that are, could Jesus have sinned?

And very many commentaries have been, they're wrong. That is important because as James says, God cannot be tempted by evil. There's no lore in it. There was nothing in Jesus that said, hmm, maybe I will do that. When Satan said, put humanity and the needs of man above the word of God and make these stones bread, Jesus said, man should not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. How many of you, or maybe I'll ask it this way, have any of you ever read the temptation in the wilderness and not been impressed?

Every time I read it I'm impressed. It's so simple and profound. God cannot be tempted by evil and Christ was every bit of God even with his humanity. Nor does he himself tempt anyone, he goes on to say. God does not entice us to sin. Again, the point is you can't blame God for our sin.

God allows it to develop us, Satan, to destroy us. Two different motives when God says, I'm going to let this temptation come your way because you have a sinful nature and the only way to fight against that nature is to have it engage evil with righteousness. What would happen, again I ask this question often, what would happen if Christians didn't sin having a sinful nature?

They would be the meanest people you and sometimes, some of them are already there almost, but we would be so self-righteous, so smug. Some of you, some of you who maybe have a problem with self-righteousness, maybe you criticize your wife too much. Maybe you criticize others too much.

Whatever it may be, you know what you struggle with. What if God treated you that way? You couldn't handle it, so you pitch it off and you treat others that way.

You're making a mistake, you're playing into Satan's hand. Stop being a blamer of everybody else. I mean, certainly there are times people do wrong and blame is necessary to close up the, clean up the mess. So many times it's not. So many times the other person knows they did wrong and they are ashamed of it.

They don't need you to rub their nose in it. Patience and love, grace kicks in, you know, that's what grace is for. What do you think, grace is for those who are perfect? Hello honey, you've never done anything wrong in the family, I'm going to show you grace. That's not what grace is for. Let's pause some of it, of course. Grace is that kindness that's not deserved.

And if I can get it, I can give it. And I don't know what you do with the preachings of sermons that are spot on, but I know what I do with them, whether I'm listening or giving them, is I try to practice what is preached that is right with everything in me no matter what. And so, you know, incidentally, the Roman gods, the Greek gods, they were petty because they were man-made. They were humans on, you know, supersized human sinners.

They were vindictive, they were cold-hearted, they were murderous. Everything the sinner does, they did even with more intensity. And James is saying, our God's not like that. He does not tempt anyone to try to get them to sin, though he allows sin. You know, Elijah, a man with a nature like ours, he had to face these things. He had to drive down the road with other bad drivers, too. And when there were no drivers on the road, there was no temptation. When there were other drivers on the road, there was heightened temptation, but God did not try to force him to sin in letting those other drivers on the road.

It comes with life. And so, to test to develop us and create a testimony that is used to save others and then Satan to tempt to destroy. Which one of you reads a biography of a Christian, other than Jesus Christ, who's perfect?

No, when you read a biography and you hear about their hardship, their struggles, their personal struggles, we identify with that and we grow from it and we see the fruit of why God allows such things in this world. Deuteronomy 13, if there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, let us go after other gods which you have not known, and let us serve them. You shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Yahweh your God is testing you to know whether you love Yahweh your God with all your heart and all your soul.

We read about men such as Phinehas who wouldn't put up with it. 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, 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 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 / 2024-04-19 09:01:08 / 2024-04-19 09:10:13 / 9

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