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April-May 2022

Everyday Discipleship


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INTERSECT: Facing Down Temptation


James 1:12-18

As a young teen, I remember riding in the back of the truck with two friends. My mom was driving us home down a dusty backroad shortcut through the woods. The three of us boys decided to see who could grab the biggest handful of leaves from the tree limbs along the way. At some point, I looked over the cab of the truck and saw a huge limb headed right for us. I thought, “This is the one!”

I readied myself, and at just the right moment, I reached up and grabbed the limb. But instead of pulling the leaves from the limb, before I realized what was happening, the limb pulled me from the truck. Thankfully, my mother didn’t run over me, and the only real pain I experienced came from landing on my face in the road.

As an adult, I have discovered temptation is much like that experience. You reach for something enticing, and before you realize what is happening, sin has a grip on you, and you find yourself face down on the road to destruction. We all face temptation. It is not a matter of if but when. No one is exempt, and no believer reaches a place where he or she isn’t tempted. If you are battling temptation right now, understand you are not alone.

What do you do when you are tempted? How do you handle it? What should you do? One of the most important things is to recognize the source of your temptation. James tells us temptation originates within—our inner desires. In James 1:14-15, he shared three stages of temptation: desire, determination, death.



Desires are part of being human. We were created by God in His image to think, feel, and act. However, those desires were damaged by the Fall and have been twisted by human nature leading to sinful and damaging behavior. For example, we all have a natural desire to eat, and nourishment is necessary for our bodies to be healthy. As broken sinners, however, we often take eating to extremes. If we eat too much, the Bible calls it gluttony. And if we give in to this sin, it quickly becomes damaging to our health. Therefore, the biblical emphasis on moderation and self-control is ultimately for our good.

We can also apply this to sexual desire. On one hand, we know sexual desires are right, good, and natural. Ultimately, sex was God’s idea. From the beginning, He made us male and female, created to be joined as husband and wife into “one flesh.” From that standpoint, our inward desire for sexual activity is both natural and good. On the other hand, sin can twist these desires before or outside of marriage. And when we yield to sinful desires and make a conscious choice to cross dangerous lines, we start down a dangerous and often deadly road.

When I don’t resist inclinations toward evil desires, I get closer to acting out those desires. James used the metaphor of birth and life, telling his readers when desire has “conceived,” it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully grown or mature, results in death.

I have a great traffic app on my phone. The first few times I used it, I was surprised by all it would do. Living near Nashville, Tennessee, traffic can be a real headache. I soon discovered the app had a feature to alert you to hazards ahead. Immediately, I began using it. A few minutes later, the app warned, “Watch out! Roadkill ahead.”

I thought, “What?! How does it know about a dead animal on a remote Tennessee highway?”

Sure enough, a quarter of a mile later, I passed a dead deer on the shoulder of the road. I was mystified until a friend at church explained the traffic app is a social app. When other users see something “down the road,” they report it. That way, before you find yourself in danger, someone else has warned you about what is coming. The same is true with God. Your desires, your passions won’t tell you the truth about temptation, but God’s Word does. Stick to His roadmap for life, and you will journey safely through temptation.

Not only must you recognize the source of your temptation, those powerful inner desires, but when you are tempted, you also must rely on a Savior who is present. After describing the character of God in verse 13, James revisits those characteristics in verse 17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Someone has pointed out the good things in your life don’t come from below, around, or within. They come from above. Every good thing in life can be traced to the heart and hand of God. He loves you and has good plans for you. In fact, it was His choice to save you. That is what verse 18 teaches. Sure, we have a choice to make in the matter of salvation, to repent of our sin and trust the saving work of Christ. But the Bible also teaches Christ first takes the initiative and draws us to Himself. God is for you, not against you. He sent Jesus to die for you and save you from sin.

When you find yourself facing temptation, rely on this Savior who is ever-present. He lives within you, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, in your weakest moments, He is present to help you face down the temptation. And, because He was tempted Himself, He understands our temptation (Hebrews 4:15). When you are tempted, call out to Him for help. Rather than reaching toward sin, reach out to the Savior. Don’t struggle alone. He is ready to help.

Remember the stormy night Peter left the boat and began walking on the water toward Jesus? He suddenly realized he was surrounded by wind and waves and storm, and he was afraid. His faith shrank, and he began to sink. In desperation, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Immediately, Jesus stretched out His hand and helped Peter safely through the storm.

In our culture, it may seem impossible to live a holy life that brings glory to God. At times, you might even feel like Peter, sinking in a storm of temptation. But remember Peter and reach for the Savior. He will be waiting to help.

About the Columnist: Dr. Barry Raper pastors Bethel FWB Church near Ashland City, Tennessee. He also serves as program coordinator for ministry studies at Welch College. Barry and his wife Amanda have five children.


©2021 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists