Sermon:  The Tempter and the Tester 

Summary:  When we encounter various trials and temptations, not only do we need to 
have the right perspective on the trials themselves, but also on God and ourselves.  
God is not a tempter who desires us to fail, but a fatherly tester that desires 
the best for us.  The sources of failure in temptation is not God, Satan, or anyone 
else, but nursing the desire which leads to sin and death.  Therefore we need to 
flee temptation.

Know:  Our God is a good tester who will strengthen us for the test if we face it 
with faithfulness, obedience

Feel:  Confidence in God to see you through tests and temptations

Do:  Discuss the differences between tempting and testing.  Reflect on how understanding 
the character of God and your own human nature can help you in times of testing and 
tempting, and what can you can do to effectively pass the testing.

Text:  James 1:12-18

Scripture Reading:  1 Cor 10:12-14

1.  Toad baked cookies, he and Frog ate lots and lots of them
	a.  Frog said, "We better stop, or we will get sick" - Let's have one last one
		- Still many left, said, "let's just have a last one"
		- This happened several times
		- Frog said, "We have to stop eating!"
	b.  Yes, said Toad, we have to have willpower, and he ate another
		- What is willpower?
		- It is trying hard not to do what you want to
		- It doesn't seem to be working!  Have to stop eating!
	c.  Temptation can be such a difficult thing
	d.  Often times it is more than cookies though
2.  (James 1:12-18) - Talks about temptations and trials
	a.  v.1-12 -Said need to have right perspective on trials-build endurance
	b.  v.12-18 - There are other things to have right perspective on
3.  We need to have right perspective on God and ourselves...

I.  On God:  He is not a tempter (13)
	A.  God can't be tempted, 
		1.  In other words, he is good not evil, so can't be tempted
		2.  Therefore, he himself does not tempt you
	B.  Sometimes it seems as if God were doing the tempting
		1.  The Greek words used show this:
			a.  v. 2, 12 uses the word "trials" Grk: peirasmos/periazo
			b.  Same Greek word in v.13 - "tempted"
		2.  Does God put you through trials and testing?
			a.  (Gen 22:1) - God tested Abraham in the binding of Isaac
				- Heb 11:17 - Uses the same word, he was "tested"
				- Who tested Abraham?  It was God...
				- God is the one who told him to sacrifice Isaac
			b.  (Ex 16:4) - God said he would "test" Israel's obedience 
			     concerning the Sabbath and Manna
		3.  Yet James says God does not "tempt/test" anyone
			a.  Remember it is the same Greek word
			b.  So which is it?  Does he test/tempt or not?
				- Greek word can be used negatively or positively
				- Context shows which it is
		4.  The key is motivation.  What is God's motivation?
			a.  Unlike Satan, it is not to entice you to fail
			b.  (Ex 20:20) - Purpose of testing - So you will not sin
			c.  (Dt 8:2-10) - Several purposes
				- To learn to rely on God
				- To learn humility
				-  It is for their good, not bad
			d.  This is why we use the word, "test" rather than "tempt"
	C.  ILL:  Have you ever had to take a test?  Anyone give hard tests?
		1.  I had some hard instructors at Harding
			a.  Some of them it was hard to get at "A"
			b.  Jimmy Allen, Joe Jones were both really hard
		2.  We used to think they just enjoyed inflicting pain on us
		3.  Result of their being hard?
			a.  We studied hard, we knew we had to
			b.  This was the whole point
		4.  They not out to get us, but wanted us to master the material
			a.  One of our instructors used to say this all the time
			b.  Goal is not to get a grade, but master the material
	D.  This is also God's goal, for us to master the Christian life
		1.  God is not a tempter, but a tester
		2.  God's purpose is not to get you to fail
		3.  So, when we fail, we should not blame God 
		4.  So, where does temptation come from?

II.  On Ourselves:  Desire tempts us (v.14-15)
	A.  Be easy to lay all of the blame at someone else's feet
		1.  Usually blame Satan
			a.  There is truth to this
			b.  After all, he is called the tempter in Mt 4:3
			c.  Even blamed the serpent, Satan, sin came from him
		2.  Some blame God, which is what Adam did, Gen 3:12
			a.  When God confronted him about eating the fruit
			b.  Adam - "The woman whom you gave me gave it to me"
		3.  But the text doesn't blame Satan or God
			a.  Both Adam and Even bore responsibility for selves
			b.  Our text does the same
		4.  Text emphasizes our part in temptation
			-  Indicates we are not powerless against Satan
	B.  The passage gives us some images of failure in face of temptation
		1.  The image of fishing.  Several words.
			a.  First word is "enticed"
				- Word means to "lure, entice, catch, or trap"
				- This is a fishing word
				- Used some sort of bait to entice and trap
			b.  "Carried away" is the second word
				- Once you take the bait, jerk the line, get hooked
				- Fight the line, but it still drags you away
			c.  Third is "desire"
				- Many Bibles translate this as "lust"
					-- It is a morally neutral word
					-- Can "desire" to be with God
				- It is not limited to sexual desire
				- The desire here could be any number of things that 
				   come between you and God
					-- Wealth, independence, status, to be cool
					-- Pleasure, ease, rest
				- Many kinds of bait to appeal to your desire
		2.  Adulteress relationship
			a.  Begins with your desire, it conceives, sets chain of events
				- Image of an adulterous relationship
				- The desire "conceives" uh oh, she's pregnant
				- Gives birth to sin, which brings death
				- Like when the adulteress says, "I'm pregnant" 
					-- It brings death
					-- Life begins to unravel
			b.  (Prov 5:1-8) - Warning against the adulteress
				- Look at how it describes her
					-- lips of honey, smooth speech
					-- Ends up being bitter
					-- Following her is to go to death
				- She is fishing, enticing with her bait
				- Stay away from the adulteress
		3.  Notice it begins with YOUR DESIRE
			a. Not limited to sexual desire
			b. Could be desire for material things, revenge, popularity
			c. What happens when you are tempted by desire?
	C.  ILL:  When I was little, I was fascinated by fire
		1.  Cousin and I found a book of matches
			a.  We were told not to play with fire
			b.  We weren't "playing" with it, just keeping the matches 
    			     from falling into the wrong hands
			c.  You can probably guess what eventually happened
			d.  We hid in the field behind her house, and played with fire
		2.  We were told not to play with fire, and not to play in the field
			a.  We made a pretend camp fire in the field 
			b.  She called to us for lunch, we stomped it out and went it
		3.  At lunch, she looked out back, field was ablaze
			a.  It was headed toward the house
			b.  We all ran out back with buckets of water, pumped more
			c.  She had a blanket, finally managed to put it out
		4.  She "wondered" how that fire started, we didn't say anything
			a.  Killed the crops she had growing in the field
			b.  Could have killed us
			c.  That is how it is when we entertain our desires
	D.  We need to be careful of our own desires.  How do you handle it?
		1.  Don't play the blame game
			a.  God is not responsible for temptation
			b.  Others are not responsible either
			c.  It is your own desire
		2.  Look straight ahead
			a.  Look straight ahead, focus on Jesus
			b.  Someone said, "It is usually not the first glance that leads 
 			    to sin, but the second stare that does"
			c.  We should not have held on to that match book
			d.  Don't stare at the bait
		3.  If it has gone past the desire stage, STOP NOW
			a.  Once it conceived, and gives birth to sin
			b.  Someone has said, "The bad thing about little sins is that 
 			    they grow up so fast"
			c.  When sin is fully grown it will bring death
				- Can kill marriage, career, reputation, friendships
				- Worst of all, kill your relationship with God
				- Separation from God, death
		4.  It is not God that causes us to fail, but our desires

III.  On God's Actions:  They are Good (v.17-18)
	A.  Text says - Do not be deceived.
		1.  Do not be deceived about any of this
		2.  Satan appeals to your desire to hook you
		3.  Satan tried to tempt you to doubt God
			a. This is what he did with Eve when he told her not to take 
 			   God seriously - You shall surely not die
			b. Satan tries to get you to blame God
	B.  God is not out to get you, but gives you what is good
		1.   Why?  God is dependable
			a.  No variation or shifting shadow with him
				-  God is love, benevolent, gracious, merciful, good
				-  Unlike ourselves, God's character is consistent
				-  Not sometimes good, always good
			b.  (1 Cor 10:13) - God is faithful
				- Not allow to be tempted beyond what able
				- Provide a way of escape
			c.  Temptation NOT from God, but he helps us in them
			d  When God allows us to be tempted it is for good
				-  (Dt 8:16) - God tested Israel
				-  It was to do good for them
		2.  How?  God "birthed" us, v.18
			a.  What a contrast 
				- Our desire gives birth to sin
				- God's wiil/desire gave birth to us - born again
			b.  We are now children of God
			c.  God treats us as his children
	C.  If you are lost, it is not because God is not good
		1.  God paid the price to adopt you as his child
			a.  Can't imagine the cost
			b.  The life of his only begotten on the cross
		2.  He did this because he is good, loving, gracious
		3.  But he doesn't force you to be adopted
			a.  Sad thing is many to not accept adoption
			b.  They choose not to accept Christ as Savior
			c.  They choose not to accept Christ as Lord
			d.  They do not obey the Gospel of our Lord
		4.  They then are lost, not because of God, but themselves
	D.   God is good, and has done all he could for you
		1. The ball is in your court, what will you do?
		2.  Are you willing to obey the Gospel?

1.  If you have already obeyed the Gospel, remember...
	a.  With trials and tests, God does not "tempt" you
	b.  We are tempted by our own desires
2.  Where are you?
	a.  Some may be nursing a desire
	b.  Some maybe it has conceived and given birth right now
	c.  What do you do about it?
		- Confession and repentance will get rid of it
		- Keep it secret, it will still grow
3.  Maybe that is not where you are - Maybe undergoing a "test" right now
	-  What should you do?
4.  Conclusion of story of Toad and Frog
	a.  Didn't have the willpower, so try something different
	b.  So, Toad took the cookies put them in a box - Now we will not eat any 
	     more cookies.  But we can open the box!
		- Toad tied a string on the box - But we can cut the string
		- Put on a high shelf with ladder - But we can get it down
		- Finally, Toad went outside opened the box, said, "Birds, come and 
		  have some cookies, and they ate them all
	c.  Now there are no more cookies, he said sadly.  Can't eat them now
5.  That is what we need to do
	a.  2 Tim 2:22 - Flee from youthful "desires"
	b.  God will not let you get in over your head if you walk with him
	c.  Will provide a way of escape - Because he is not a tempter, but tester 
	d.  Take that way of escape


Sermon:  The Tempter and the Tester 

Summary:  When we encounter various trials and temptations, not only do we need to have 
the right perspective on the trials themselves, but also on God and ourselves.  God is not 
a tempter who desires us to fail, but a fatherly tester that desires the best for us.  The 
sources of failure in temptation is not God, Satan, or anyone else, but nursing the desire 
which leads to sin and death.  Therefore we need to flee temptation.

- What is the most difficult test, assessment, challenge, etc. you have had?

Explore:  (James 1:12-18)

1.  What is the difference between the "test" or "trial" of verses 2 & 12 and the "temptation" 
of verse 13?  (Note: The two are from the same Greek word)

2.  Where does temptation come from?  How does it start?  How does it end?  What does this 
imply about human nature?

3.  The passage says, "Do not be deceived."  What kinds of deceptions does this passage imply 
Christians should beware of?  (Are all Christians capable of sin?)

4.  What does this passage teach about the character and nature of God?  How is this important 
in a discussion about temptation?


5.  How might the truths this passage teaches about God and human nature help you?

6.  In what ways have you been "tested" in the past?   Would you characterize it as "testing" 
or "tempting?"  Why?

7.  How do you typically deal with trials, tests, and temptations?

8.  What are you being "tested" or "tempted" by currently?  Is there anything from this lesson 
that might help you?