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Sermon #04 — James Series


      Title:                                 a Blessing, An Error,

A Warning


      Text:                                  James 1:12-16

      Subject:               Temptations

      Date:                                Tuesday Evening — February 10, 2015

      Readings:           Bobbie Estes and Mark Henson



If you were asked how to best secure the spiritual well-being of one of God’s saints, or how to best promote a believer’s spiritual growth in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, what would you recommend? I suspect you might say, “Put him in some place where he will be unmolested by the influence of the world, and always surrounded by other believers. Arrange for the brother or sister to have as few distractions, worldly cares, and tempting circumstances as possible. Encourage the child of God to spend several hours each day reading his Bible, praying, and meditating on spiritual things. And encourage him to exercise a life of strict discipline, abstaining from everything that might gratify his physical body.”


Pursue the same line of thought a little further. If I were to ask you the best way for a man to be prepared for the blessed work of preaching the Gospel, to prepare a man to be a pastor or missionary, what would you suggest? You might say, “Send him away to a Bible college or seminary. Give him a good education. Teach him Hebrew and Greek. Supply him with a good library. Surround him with other aspiring preachers, with whom he can meditate, pray, study the Bible, and discuss doctrine and religious issues of the day. And keep him, as much as possible, away from worldly people, who might corrupt his mind.”


That has been the practice of religious people throughout history. And it is appealing. It seems to make sense. Doesn’t it? But, if you care to look at history, you will discover that convents and monasteries have been, more often than not, dens of indescribable iniquity. And Bible colleges and seminaries, following the traditions of Rome, have made little improvement.


You can be sure of this fact. It applies to all things spiritual. God’s ways are not our ways. And his thoughts are not our thoughts. John Newton, the man who wrote that great hymn, “Amazing Grace,” understood this. He wrote...


“I asked the Lord that I might grow

In faith, and love, and every grace;

Might more of His salvation know,

And seek more earnestly His face.


[‘Twas He who taught me thus to pray,

And He, I trust, has answered prayer;

But it has been in such a way

As almost drove me to despair. ]


I hoped that in some favored hour,

At once He’d answer my request;

And, by His love’s constraining power,

Subdue my sins, and give me rest.


Instead of this, He made me feel

The hidden evils of my heart,

And let the angry powers of hell

Assault my soul in every part.


Yea, more, with His own hand He seemed

Intent to aggravate my woe;

Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,

Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.


‘Lord, why is this?’ I trembling cried;

‘Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”

‘`Tis in this way,’ the Lord replied,

‘I answer prayer for grace and faith.’


‘These inward trials I employ,

From self and pride to set thee free;

And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou mayst seek thine all in Me.’”


With that as the background, I want you to read James 1:12-16 with me. The title of my message tonight is a Blessing, An Error, and A Warning. My text is James 1:12-16. — a Blessing, An Error, A Warning (James 1:12-16).


If we belong to Christ, Satan desires to have us, that he may sift us as wheat, as he did Peter; but the Lord Jesus Christ prays for us, and thereby keeps us secure in his grace. May God the Holy Spirit make is Word in this place effectual to our hearts by the blessing of his grace, for Christ’s sake.


Proposition: Satan casts his fiery darts at our souls, assailing us at every point. Knowing every kink in our armor, every weakness of our flesh, and every lust of our hearts, the fiend of hell assaults our souls relentlessly seeking to destroy us. — But, by the grace of God, believers endure temptations, overcome them, and are blessed by them. — That is the doctrine of God in our text — James 1:12-16.


(James 1:12-16) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (13) Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (16) Do not err, my beloved brethren.



1.    Here is a great blessing of grace (v. 12).

2.    Here is a very common error (vv. 13-15).

3.    Here is a very needful warning (v. 16).


A Blessing


First, here is a great blessing of grace. — “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation” (v. 12). In the second verse of this chapter James tells us to “count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations.” There, it seems obvious, he is telling us that God tries and proves us, as he did Abraham’s, when he tries and proves our faith in Christ by so many different trials and in so many different ways, we ought to rejoice in those tokens of his goodness upon us.

·      How God tempted Abraham, when he required him to sacrifice Isaac upon Mt. Moriah!

·      How the Lord proved Jephthah, when his daughter came out to meet him!

·      How greatly Moses faith was tried, when he fled from Pharaoh!

·      How greatly the Lord God tempted and proved his servant Job, when he turned Satan loose upon his family, his body, and his company!


But here, in James 1:12, it is equally obvious that James is talking about temptations of another kind. Here he is not talking about the temptations that arise in God’s providence, temptations of affliction, pain, and suffering, or the temptations that arise because of sickness, bereavement, and death. Here James is talking about believers enduring the assaults of Satan upon our souls, the temptations that come upon us because of the evil that is in us, the evil by which the fiend of hell tries to destroy us.

·      Peter’s Sifting

·      Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh — “The Messenger of Satan


Now, watch what the Spirit of God tells us about these temptations. He does not say, “Count it all joy when ye fall into” these temptations. Oh, no! There is nothing sadder, nothing more grievous to our hearts than falling into these temptations. Rather, in this place, the Lord God says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation!


Spirit of God, give us grace to see the blessedness of all Satan’s devices, by the grace of God through Christ our Savior!


We are engaged in what Bunyan rightly called “The Holy War.” We are at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil. Warfare is always ugly and brutal. But the blessedness of victory is indescribable. When we have endured all the assaults of hell upon our souls in this body of flesh, we shall the golden crown of life eternal with Christ our Lord! That, the Spirit of God here tells us, makes the very enduring of temptation, the warfare itself, blessed!


Perhaps, you are thinking, “Bro. Don, How is it possible for anyone engaged in such a warfare with hell, anyone enduring such temptations as David, Peter, and Paul endured, to look upon it as a blessed thing? How can a man or woman look upon the horror of such conflict as a matter of blessedness?” — I’m glad you asked.


This is a blessed warfare because Satan’s furious upon the child of God are assaults made against him because he is the child of God. The devil’s bitterness is against Christ and his seed, Christ and his church. The Lord said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman: and between thy seed, and her seed” (Genesis 3:15). And here it is seen to our joy. Satan’s malice against us is malice against Christ and his seed, because we are Christ’s and his seed!


Illustration: Faith’s 2nd Grade Teacher

Let me give you another reason for counting the endurance of these temptations blessed. — There is no doubt or question about the final end of the conflict. Satan often appears to prevail.

  • David and Uriah
  • Peter’s Fall
  • Paul’s Thorn
  • My Warfare

But it is the end of the war that matters, not the battles! It is the crown of victory, not the bloody field of conflict, that makes the warfare itself blessed.

  • Ask the soldiers who fought and won the war!
  • Deep wounds, great losses, and painful memories of times of imprisonment and great darkness will only make the victory sweeter!
  • And the victory is sure (Romans 16:20; Revelation 7:9-14).


(Romans 16:20) And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.


(Revelation 7:9-14) After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; (10) And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. (11) And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, (12) Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (13) And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? (14) And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


Our day of temptation by the powers of darkness is deeply distressing. Our Savior found it so; and so must we. But Satan’s leash is not very long. His time is limited. His rage is great because “He knoweth that he hath but a short time” (Revelation 14:12) I may be cast into his prison for a time; but if I am Christ’s he cannot hold me long (Revelation 2:10.


(Revelation 2:10) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.


Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life!


The consciousness that victory is sure and that every temptation, when sanctified of the Lord, leads to good and not to evil, makes the enduring of temptation, be what it may, blessed. The old serpent, the devil, foe of Christ and of our souls is in a rage because he knows that he must soon be publicly put to shame and openly baffled, by such poor, weak things as we are! But to be vanquished by this worm, Jacob, to have this worm, Jacob, to crush his head shall be Christ’s final, ultimate, everlasting triumph over the fiend of hell, and ours! — The anticipation of such victory makes this old warrior’s heart rejoice in the midst of the raging battle!


Then, oh, how blessed it is, in the midst of our darkest temptations, to be enabled by the grace of God to lift our eyes to heaven and behold the Lord Jesus Christ, our mighty Advocate and great High Priest, our omnipotent, sovereign King looking on, watching over us, and interceding for us! Oh! it is blessed to endure, such temptations, when by such temptations, we see Christ more immediately coming forth for us.

  • While Satan roars, the Lord Jesus quietens!
  • While the tempter accuses, the Savior rebukes him!
  • While the devil shoots his darts, Christ stands forth as our Shield and our Defence!
  • How Peter must have rejoiced to see the Lord Jesus coming to meet him in Galilee, as he promised he would!


(John 13:38-14:3) Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (1) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. (2) In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.


(Micah 7:8) Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.


Let me say one more thing about the blessedness of enduring these temptations in this body of flesh. We are blessed in enduring temptations, even when Satan seems to gain the advantage over us, if by our temptations we more fully discover our nothingness, and Christ’s all-sufficiency and all-sufficient grace. When that is the case, the trial is truly blessed and profitable. When the Lord raise up his fallen ones, they are forced to by grace to their weakness and find strength in him. Our wounds make us wary of ourselves and cautious and Christ the more precious.


Truly, the strength of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is manifestly made perfect through the weakness of those sinners who are saved by his grace. As Paul put it, — “When we were yet without strength, in due time, Christ died for the ungodly.”

  • I have no strength to atone for my sin. — Christ is my Atonement.
  • I have no strength to obey God’s law. — Christ obeyed for me.
  • I have no strength to give myself life. — Christ is my Life.
  • I have no strength to resist temptation. — Christ is my Preservation.
  • I have no strength to draw near to God. — Christ is my way of access to the Father.
  • I have no strength to make myself holy. — Christ is my Holiness.
  • I have no strength to resist the devil. — Christ has bound the dragon of hell for me.


“Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” — It is only when we are brought to acknowledge our weakness, infirmity, frailty, nothingness, and insufficiency that the power of Christ and his all-sufficient grace rests upon us. The moment we flex our muscles, straighten our backs, lift our chins and say, “I can do this,” we are in trouble.


“Lord, why is this?” I trembling cried;

“Wilt Thou pursue Thy worm to death?”

“`Tis in this way,” the Lord replied,

“I answer prayer for grace and faith.


These inward trials I employ,

From self and pride to set thee free;

And break thy schemes of earthly joy,

That thou mayst seek thine all in Me.”


By omnipotent grace the Lord Jesus pulls the lamb out of the Lion’s mouth, makes him drop his prey, and skulk away in humiliation as a vanquished foe! Do you know anything of such grace? If so, you know the meaning of the Apostle’s words. — “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation.


The Crown


The endurance of temptation is blessed because, once our trying time is over, every heaven-born soul shall “receive the crown of life, which he Lord hath promised to them that love him.


I like what John Trapp said about this “crown of life.” Trap wrote, “Eternal life is called ‘a crown:’

1.    For the perpetuity of it; for a crown hath neither beginning nor ending.

2.    For the plenty; because as the crown compasseth on every side, so there is nothing wanting in this life.

3.    The dignity; eternal life is a coronation day.”


An Error


Second, here is a very common error (vv. 13-15). It is very common for men to both excuse their sinful deeds and even justify them, by blaming their evil deeds on God’s sovereignty. James address that horrible evil in verses 13-15.


(James 1:13-15)  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.



While the Apostle pronounces blessedness upon those who, by the grace of God, endure temptation, he teaches us here that reprobate men, those whose temptations terminate in shame and death, have none to blame for their sins and their everlasting damnation, but themselves.

  • The source of evil is your own heart.
  • Your own lusts make you vulnerable to Satan’s devices.
  • Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death.


(Romans 6:23)  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


A Warning


Third, here is a very needful warning (v. 16).


(James 1:16) Do not err, my beloved brethren.


John Gill rightly declared, “To make God the author of sin, or to charge him with being concerned in temptation to sin, is a very great error, a fundamental one, which strikes at the nature and being of God, and at the perfection of his holiness. It is a denying of him, and is one of those damnable errors and heresies, which bring upon men swift destruction.”


Let us take great care that we heed this warning. God’s saints confess their sin. All who confess their sins, taking sides with God against themselves, obtain forgiveness of all sin by the grace of God, through the blood of Christ.

  • Job
  • David


(Psalm 32:1-5) Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. (2) Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. (3) When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. (4) For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. (5) I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.


(Psalm 51:1-15) Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (2) Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. (3) For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. (4) Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. (5) Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (6) Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. (7) Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (8) Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. (9) Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. (10) Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (11) Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. (12) Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. (13) Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (14) Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. (15) O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.


(1 John 1:7) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.


(1 John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


Wicked, unbelieving, self-righteous people, while pretending to confess their sin, seek a cloke, an excuse for their sin.


(James 1:12-16) Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. (13) Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (15) Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (16) Do not err, my beloved brethren.


Where are you found in this portion of Scripture? Where am I found?

·      Are you among the blessed ones who endure temptation, confessing their sins?

·      Are you among the self-willed, self-righteous, unbelieving, who refuse to confess their sins?


My sins, my Father, I confess,

Of heart, and Word, and deed,

With humbled heart, in deep distress;

Be merciful to me!


Cleanse me, forgive me through the blood

Of Jesus Christ, Your Son;

My faithful, just, and holy God,

Pardon what I have done.


Holy Spirit, return to me;

Sweet fellowship restore!

Give me the grace I so much need,

For I my sins deplore!





Don Fortner








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