The Struggle With Temptation

  • September 01, 2018
Saturday 01

James 1:13-15

Of all our struggles on Earth, perhaps the most troubling and defeating is temptation. The enticements may vary, but the pressure just never seems to let up. Before we know it, a little white lie pops out of our mouth, a casual glance quickly turns into a lustful look, or an overwhelming craving renders us powerless to resist.

Temptations can arise from three sources: our human fleshly tendency to struggle with sin even after salvation; the world system around us, with its promises of satisfaction and pleasure; and the demonic forces that seek to pull us away from righteous choices. But today’s reading assures us temptations never originate with God. When we are tempted, God wants us to find Him sufficient: He will strengthen us so we can resist and follow through in obedience. Our Father doesn’t want us to fail. Rather, He desires that His children come out approved after testing.

It’s helpful to understand how temptation originates. The first step in the process is a thought. At this stage, sin has not yet taken place, but if we start to entertain the thought, then desire takes root, and we imagine the pleasures or advantages to follow. According to Matthew 5:28, it is at this point that sin has occurred: In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expanded the interpretation of God’s law to include not only actions but also thoughts, motives, and sinful desires (see Matt 5:17-48).

The place to halt a temptation is at the first thought. God wants us to let it pass, call out to Him in prayer, and stand firm in obedience to Christ.

Bible in One Year: Ezekiel 17-19

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13 Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.

14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.

15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

17 Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

19 Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

20 For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

21 You have heard that the ancients were told, `YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER' and `Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.'

22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ` You good-for-nothing,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, `You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

23 Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you,

24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.

25 Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.

26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.

27 You have heard that it was said, `YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY';

28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.

31 It was said, `WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE';

32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

33 Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, `YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.'

34 But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God,

35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING.

36 Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.

37 But let your statement be, `Yes, yes' or `No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.

38 You have heard that it was said, `AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'

39 But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

40 If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.

41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.

42 Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

43 You have heard that it was said, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.'

44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?

47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

1 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,

2 Son of man, propound a riddle and speak a parable to the house of Israel,

3 saying, `Thus says the Lord GOD, A great eagle with great wings, long pinions and a full plumage of many colors came to Lebanon and took away the top of the cedar.

4 He plucked off the topmost of its young twigs and brought it to a land of merchants; he set it in a city of traders.

5 He also took some of the seed of the land and planted it in fertile soil. He placed it beside abundant waters; he set it like a willow.

6 Then it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine with its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and yielded shoots and sent out branches.

7 But there was another great eagle with great wings and much plumage; and behold, this vine bent its roots toward him and sent out its branches toward him from the beds where it was planted, that he might water it.

8 It was planted in good soil beside abundant waters, that it might yield branches and bear fruit and become a splendid vine."'

9 Say, `Thus says the Lord GOD, Will it thrive? Will he not pull up its roots and cut off its fruit, so that it withers--so that all its sprouting leaves wither? And neither by great strength nor by many people can it be raised from its roots again.

10 Behold, though it is planted, will it thrive? Will it not completely wither as soon as the east wind strikes it--wither on the beds where it grew?"'"

11 Moreover, the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

12 Say now to the rebellious house, `Do you not know what these things mean? ' Say, `Behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, took its king and princes and brought them to him in Babylon.

13 He took one of the royal family and made a covenant with him, putting him under oath. He also took away the mighty of the land,

14 that the kingdom might be in subjection, not exalting itself, but keeping his covenant that it might continue.

15 But he rebelled against him by sending his envoys to Egypt that they might give him horses and many troops. Will he succeed? Will he who does such things escape? Can he indeed break the covenant and escape?

16 As I live,' declares the Lord GOD, `Surely in the country of the king who put him on the throne, whose oath he despised and whose covenant he broke, in Babylon he shall die.

17 Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company will not help him in the war, when they cast up ramps and build siege walls to cut off many lives.

18 Now he despised the oath by breaking the covenant, and behold, he pledged his allegiance, yet did all these things; he shall not escape.'"

19 Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD, As I live, surely My oath which he despised and My covenant which he broke, I will inflict on his head.

20 I will spread My net over him, and he will be caught in My snare. Then I will bring him to Babylon and enter into judgment with him there regarding the unfaithful act which he has committed against Me.

21 All the choice men in all his troops will fall by the sword, and the survivors will be scattered to every wind; and you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken."

22 Thus says the Lord GOD, I will also take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and set it out; I will pluck from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one and I will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.

23 On the high mountain of Israel I will plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit and become a stately cedar. And birds of every kind will nest under it; they will nest in the shade of its branches.

24 All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform it. "

1 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

2 What do you mean by using this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, `The fathers eat the sour grapes, But the children's teeth are set on edge'?

3 As I live," declares the Lord GOD, you are surely not going to use this proverb in Israel anymore.

4 Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.

5 But if a man is righteous and practices justice and righteousness,

6 and does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor's wife or approach a woman during her menstrual period--

7 if a man does not oppress anyone, but restores to the debtor his pledge, does not commit robbery, but gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing,

8 if he does not lend money on interest or take increase, if he keeps his hand from iniquity and executes true justice between man and man,

9 if he walks in My statutes and My ordinances so as to deal faithfully--he is righteous and will surely live," declares the Lord GOD.

10 Then he may have a violent son who sheds blood and who does any of these things to a brother

11 (though he himself did not do any of these things), that is, he even eats at the mountain shrines, and defiles his neighbor's wife,

12 oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not restore a pledge, but lifts up his eyes to the idols and commits abomination,

13 he lends money on interest and takes increase; will he live? He will not live! He has committed all these abominations, he will surely be put to death; his blood will be on his own head.

14 Now behold, he has a son who has observed all his father's sins which he committed, and observing does not do likewise.

15 He does not eat at the mountain shrines or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile his neighbor's wife,

16 or oppress anyone, or retain a pledge, or commit robbery, but he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing,

17 he keeps his hand from the poor, does not take interest or increase, but executes My ordinances, and walks in My statutes; he will not die for his father's iniquity, he will surely live.

18 As for his father, because he practiced extortion, robbed his brother and did what was not good among his people, behold, he will die for his iniquity.

19 Yet you say, `Why should the son not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity?' When the son has practiced justice and righteousness and has observed all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live.

20 The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself.

21 But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

22 All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.

23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?

24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die.

25 Yet you say, `The way of the Lord is not right.' Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?

26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die.

27 Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life.

28 Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.

29 But the house of Israel says, `The way of the Lord is not right.' Are My ways not right, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not right?

30 Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.

31 Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel?

32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. Therefore, repent and live."

1 As for you, take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel

2 and say, `What was your mother? A lioness among lions! She lay down among young lions, She reared her cubs.

3 When she brought up one of her cubs, He became a lion, And he learned to tear his prey; He devoured men.

4 Then nations heard about him; He was captured in their pit, And they brought him with hooks To the land of Egypt.

5 When she saw, as she waited, That her hope was lost, She took another of her cubs And made him a young lion.

6 And he walked about among the lions; He became a young lion, He learned to tear his prey; He devoured men.

7 He destroyed their fortified towers And laid waste their cities; And the land and its fullness were appalled Because of the sound of his roaring.

8 Then nations set against him On every side from their provinces, And they spread their net over him; He was captured in their pit.

9 They put him in a cage with hooks And brought him to the king of Babylon; They brought him in hunting nets So that his voice would be heard no more On the mountains of Israel.

10 Your mother was like a vine in your vineyard, Planted by the waters; It was fruitful and full of branches Because of abundant waters.

11 And it had strong branches fit for scepters of rulers, And its height was raised above the clouds So that it was seen in its height with the mass of its branches.

12 But it was plucked up in fury; It was cast down to the ground; And the east wind dried up its fruit. Its strong branch was torn off So that it withered; The fire consumed it.

13 And now it is planted in the wilderness, In a dry and thirsty land.

14 And fire has gone out from its branch; It has consumed its shoots and fruit, So that there is not in it a strong branch, A scepter to rule.'" This is a lamentation, and has become a lamentation.

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Publish Date May 20, 2019
The Justice of Divine Judgment

God will judge mankind fairly, taking into account each person’s exposure to the gospel.

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