In recapping, the first section of this chapter deals with trials, and we've spent a few weeks talking just about trials, how they affect our lives, and the value of trials. And we saw that God has a purpose in trials- they're not just there to make us fall, God uses them as tools to bring us up. We saw that the value of trials is to give us patience, as it says in verse, uh, 3 and 4, "Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, let patience have her perfect work." So God is trying to work within us that patience, which is the word, "endurance." It's sticking out our commitment that we have to the Lord, even though times are tough. And so the purpose of trials is to strengthen us, is to make us mature so that we can grow in Christ and have perseverance. We cannot have perseverance or a strong Christian life unless we have adversities. They don't come by reading a book. They don't come by just praying for patience. They come through tough times and God brings those times into our lives, those trials, so that we can be mature- God wants us to grow up.
And so it says, "Let patience have it's perfect work, that you may be perfect," or mature, "full grown, and complete, lacking nothing." Now, while trials are set by God as tools to bring us up and to strengthen us, temptations are sent by the devil to bring us down, to make us stumble and fall. And so it says in verse 13, "Let no one say when he is tempted," now he shifts gears and talks about temptation, "That I am tempted of God. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire is conceived it brings," or, "it gives birth to death," or, "sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect girt is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures." First, James begins his chapter speaking about trials and then he speaks about temptations. Now why do you suppose James would seek to couple both of those ideas together when temptation and trials are two entirely different things? By the way, the word "temptation" in verse 13 means, "a solicitation to evil." That's something that the devil does. God does not do it. It's a tool used by satan to bring us down- a solicitation to evil. He knocks at our door and tries to solicit us. But why do you suppose he would speak about trials and then shift gears and in the same chapter, in fact, in the same portion of his letter, speak about temptation? And that is because trials can turn into temptations if we don't handle them right.
So the last few weeks, we talked about how to handle trials. Trials are sort of from the outside. Temptation, Satan comes from the inside. In fact it says in verse 14, "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." Now, during a trial, during a molding process by God, we can tend to complain a little bit, or we can tend to doubt God's love for us. We can begin to murmur against God. We can seek to go away from God during that trial. "Well if this is the way God's gonna treat me, I'm just gonna go do this." That can be our attitude during a trial. Because that's our attitude, Satan comes along and offers an escape from that trial. "You don't have to go this hard way that God- here's another way, it's a lot easier." And he offers an escape and, essentially, that's what temptation is. And so often that trial can turn into, or we can turn them into a temptation. Example: Abraham. Abraham was called by God to the land of Canaan. As he was down in the land of Canaan, led by God, he went through tremendous trials. The land wasn't good to supply the flocks and herds, all of his cattle and livestock. And so he was being pressured in this trial- God was molding him through this trial, God was pressuring him a little bit so that Abraham could prove God in that tough time. But what did Abraham do? He flaked out on God and he ran down to Egypt. And God had to chastise him and bring him back to Canaan, to the place where God could bless him again. Abraham took the trial and turned it into a temptation. And because sometimes they can be closely related, depending on how we use them, James couples, right after he speaks about trials, he speaks then about temptation.
Now, as we said the last few weeks, God's desire is that we grow, verse 4. That we'd be complete, mature, full-grown. But God has to use trials to do it. God wants us to be mature, but He uses these things. Now, in the same light, God wants us to be mature, but He can't do it by sheltering us from every temptation. And God does not shelter His children, even from the temptation of Satan. For when Satan saw Job, he said, "Alright, I'm gonna nail this guy's hide." And God was sort of bragging about Job, "Hey look at my servant Job. He's a pretty good guy, perfect in all of his ways, eh Satan?" Satan goes, "Oh yeah, you've been blessing him. Let me have him for a while. I'll work him over. And after I've worked him over awhile, he'll curse you to your face." God let, or allowed, Satan to really work Job over, but He knew the limit that Job could take, and He wouldn't allow him to be tempted above what He was able to endure. And so God doesn't shelter us from temptation. He doesn't lead us into temptation, he doesn't tempt us, but he often allows Satan, and that can be worked even for our good. You see, there is an element of danger that we all must face to become strong. I grew up with kids who were sheltered from every temptation and trial in life, and they grew up very flimsy kids. When it came time for adulthood, they didn't know how to handle the real world. They had been sheltered from everything so long. When it came where it was really tough, they didn't know what decisions to make.
And so, James speaks about the temptations and he begins by saying, "Let no one say when he is tempted that, 'I am tempted by God'" or, "that 'God is the direct source'; for God cannot be tempted," that is, solicited to do evil, "nor does He Himself tempt anyone." We can't say, "It's God's fault. You know, God really led me into a heavy temptation the other day. God really tempted me." It's interesting that mankind doesn't want to assume the responsibility for a lot of things. You know, we try to weasel out of things a lot of times. And we always try to blame something else, or someone- it's just the nature of man. I was at the bank the other day, ready to put my little card in the thing to get some money out, and it wouldn't give me any money, but as I was standing there waiting, there was a guy in front of me who put his card in, and punched it a few times and he started getting angry and he turned to me and he goes, "This stupid machine. I mean, this machine doesn't know anything." And he started just kicking the thing and and and cursing and swearing because the machine was so stupid that it wouldn't give, but, you know, he never thought that, "Maybe I blew it. Maybe I put in the wrong number." But he was blaming the machine as if the machine sitting back there saying, "Alright, I'm gonna work this guy over when he puts his card in. I can't wait to do this to him (laughter)." But we don't want to assume the responsibility for anything. Adam tried that in the garden after the sin- God held Adam responsible for his sin. For falling to temptation. And Adam's clever response was, "Lord, it was the woman that you gave me." Now that's one that's still going around today (light laughter). We always love to blame our wives for things. Really, he was blaming God. "It was the woman that You gave me, God. You gave her to me in the first place." And then God called Eve on the carpet. "Eve, what about it?" "Oh, it was the serpent. He beg- it's his fault." And God pointed to Sa, you know, Satan, he's the only one left, he's the last on the line. But it's always man's nature to blame somebody else for things. James says, "When you're tempted, you cannot blame God for the temptation." You can't say, "I am tempted by God."
If you were to visit a jail, and you talked to some of the prisoners and ask them why they're in there, you might come up with a lot of different responses. A lot of responses like, "Well, I've been running with the wrong crowd. It was really their fault. They got me into this crime and that's why I fell." Or they might say, "I had an unfair trial. The judge put the sentence on me and he had no right to do it. I don't deserve to be here." It's so difficult for man to say, "I'm guilty. It's my fault. I did it." And because James knows the tendency of mankind to blame someone else, even God, he says, "When someone's tempted, don't say, 'God tempted me.'" You can't say, "Hey, you know, God really tempted me the other day. There I was, sitting in the bar, drinking a Coke (light laughter), and in came this girl and boy I was really tempted." Well first of all, what were you doing in a bar? You see, so often we place ourselves in vulnerable positions and then we say, "Oh, a really heavy temptation," when we're the ones that put ourselves there in the first place. We put ourselves in very open, vulnerable, uh, temptable positions and we can't say, as James says, that, "I am tempted by God." Because, first of all, God can't be tempted with evil. Nor does He Himself test," or, excuse me, "solicit to evil or tempt anyone." Someone says, "Oh, I'm really having trouble in this dating relationship with so-and-so. Just can't understand, we're tempted so much, why God is allowing us to go through these temptations." And then you probe a little bit. "Well, what's going on in your dating relationship?" "Well, I don't know, it's so weird, I can't understand why we're tempted. I mean, all we do is sit alone in a car and look at each other. Off the road. Away from the street lights. At twelve o'clock midnight. I just can't understand, it's really weird, we're tempted (light laughter)." Well, figure it out. You're placing yourself in a vulnerable position. And so James, in verse 14 says, "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then when desire is conceived, it brings, or gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." So we need to stay away from those places that we know are gonna bring us down or will bring us into a temptable position. If you have problem with gluttony, don't have your quiet time in a Winchell's (laughter). You're sitting there trying to read the word and the aroma just goes by. "Oh Lord, just deliver me out of this situation." God says, "I've given you legs, walk out of this situation (laughter). I've given you the way of escape." We need to place ourselves out of those areas that we know that we're going to fall in, and all of us have weak areas and, by the way, I think all of us are aware of those weak areas. I think we know the areas that it's a little bit tender and we can't get too close to certain things, and other areas that we're stronger in. And some of our areas we're stronger in than someone else. And you look at someone else, you go, "I can't see how that person falls and is tempted so much by that trial. I just can't understand it because I'm so strong in that area." But he might be stronger than you are in another area. And so you know them, don't place yourself in that area of temptation. We can't blame anyone but ourselves for that.
And a lot of people do blame God, by the way. For an example, someone who is a homosexual I have heard say, "Well, that's the way God just created me. I was made that way. I can't help it. I was just created by God with those natural tendencies and desires. God was the one who did it." And, it is, in essence, they are blaming God for homosexuality. Or alcoholism. I've heard people say, "God just made me that way. It's just natural. I can never help it. It's just a disease that came upon me." "When anyone is tempted, he can't say it's God's fault. They can't blame God. God can't be tempted. Neither does He tempt anyone with evil. But, each one," and you can put your name here, "is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires or lusts," depending on what translation you have, "and enticed." In other words, there are no excuses. We can't say, "Oh, man, this trial or this temptation was just too heavy, it was too much, I couldn't help it. I fell." Because the Scripture says that God will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able to endure and with that temptation, provide for you a way of escape. So really, we don't have the excuse by saying, "You know, I just couldn't handle this one. It was just too much pressure, too much temptation." Because God knows the level of tolerance. God knows what you can handle and what you can't handle and so he says that He won't allow you to be tempted above what you're able to endure. And again, Job. Satan really worked Job over, did a job on him. And he was tempted to curse God because of it. In fact, his wife gave him that beautiful word of encouragement. She said, "Honey, curse God and die (light laughter)." But in that temptation, He did not charge God foolishly. He said, "Naked I came into the world, naked I'll leave the world. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away." And so God knew the level. God knew the breaking point of Job. And so really, Job didn't have an excuse if he were to fall away and sin against God because of the temptation. Because God said He won't allow us to be tempted of above what we're able to endure.
Notice in verse 14 the real problem. Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire and enticed. You know the greatest enemy, I think, is our flesh. I think Christians have a tendency to blame everybody else but their own stinky, own nature. "The devil. He's out to get me. It's his fault. The world. They're, the world's against me. The world and the devil." And in the meanwhile, our greatest enemy is around us all the time- our flesh. I remember in the Philippines, there's these bugs that get underneath your clothes. And, and you don't even know they're there and then they start, you know, lodging themselves in your clothes and on your skin and getting at ya. And all the time we're trying to swat these mosquitos away and these bugs are crawling underneath our skin, eating us from the inside. And that's the way our flesh works. We're busy saying, "Touche, the devil is my enemy, the world is my enemy." and we take out our sword and meanwhile, we're being beaten from the inside. It's our flesh. Our flesh is the greatest enemy that we allow to take along, you know, to follow us wherever we go. Our closest friend sometimes. Our own evil nature. And really, it's our old nature. God has given us a new nature, the Scripture says. He has imparted unto us His nature. That doesn't mean everything's rosy, because we've still got the old nature, even though it's crucified with Christ, every now and then, it rears it's ugly head and growls at us. And he says, "I want attention too. I'm your flesh. I was here first. You grew up with me. You lived longer with me than you did your new nature. I demand some attention." And because of the old nature, Satan then takes that and capitalized on it, and uses your old nature and He puts allurement in front of it and, "each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." Everyone basically desires certain things. I would be safe to say that everybody desires peace, inward peace, satisfaction. They want just a, uh, a real peace in this life, a fulfillment. They want to be satisfied. I've talked to a lot of people, "What do you want out of life?" They say, "I just want to be happy." "Well, what are you doing to be happy?" "Well, I'm trying to, I think happiness will be found in this experience or in this pleasure or this possession or this relationship. That's what I'm seeking after." There are certain things that everybody seeks. Now God has designed a path where by all of those needs can be fulfilled and met, where we can be satisfied, where we can be full. Jesus said, "If anyone follow me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." Jesus promised in that crucified life to have life abundantly to provide for all of our needs. But He said, "if you commit yourself to Me, if you follow after Me, here's the path. Don't stray from the path. If anything gets in your way, deny it." Now that's the path of God. And it's designed to bring us to fulfillment. Satan comes along and offers an allurement off the track. The rich, young ruler. Came to Jesus, "Jesus," or, "Master, what must I do to inherit age-abiding life?" Jesus said, "Well, you know the commandments." Named off the part of the ten commandments that deal with his relationship with men. The rich, young ruler said, "All these I have kept from my youth." Jesus said, "There's one thing that you lack. Go sell everything that you own, give it to the poor, and follow me and you'll have treasure in heaven." What Jesus did is He put his finger on the one thing that was pulling him off the path- it was his wealth. He put his finger on the one thing that was keeping him from a full relationship with Christ that meant satisfaction and fullness. Now, wealth might not be your problem, but whatever it is, God will put His finger on the one thing that is holding you back from that full relationship and God will require it. Because Satan will take that weak area and dangle it in front of it like he did to the rich, young ruler. It was his wealth. "One thing you lack, you're loving your money. You're loving your possessions more than anything else. Now, go sell them and follow after me." Jesus put His finger on the one thing that was taking him off the path of following Christ.
And so, this is where temptation comes in. God said, "Here's the path. Here's satisfaction. Follow after me diligently" But this is where the struggle comes in because your old flesh goes, "Wait a minute, I want fulfillment now." Just like a little kid, "I want ice cream tonight." And your old flesh will cry out, "I want satisfaction right now." And it begins to struggle with a new nature. And this is where temptation comes in. This is where Satan comes along and dangles those little things in front of you. And he says, "Oh, you want fulfillment, do you? You don't have to go the way of the cross. You don’t have to go God's way. That's such a long, hard way to find fulfillment. You can find fulfillment immediately right here in this experience. If you'll just turn aside from the path a little bit and grasp on to this experience or in this relationship, oh, you'll have real satisfaction. You don't have to wait, you can have it right now. You can be in this pleasure, in this piece of property, or whatever." And he seeks to draw us away from the path that God has set straight in front of us. That is what temptation is. There is a way that God has promised us to be satisfied and fill. Satan offers and allurement, an escape from God's way. That's temptation. Je-Satan did this to Jesus when Satan came to Jesus and tempted him. What was the reason that Jesus came to the earth? To buy the world back to God through, uh, being crucified on Calvary. That's the purpose Jesus came. By dying on the cross, He could buy the world back to God in redemption. That's what the word "redemption" means, to buy back. Satan says, "Hey, Jesus, you don't have to go the hard way, the way of the cross. You came for the world, I'll give you what you want if you bow down and worship me, I'll give you all the kingdoms of the world. They're mine, I can give them to anyone I want to." Now that was a heavy temptation. It was no lightweight temptation. For Jesus came to purchase the world back to God. Satan says, "You can defeat me right now. You just bow down and worship me and I'll give them to you. You don't have to go to the cross." And Satan comes to us with much the same thing. "You want fulfillment? Here's a little temptation, here's a little allurement." And he promises us satisfaction. And by the way, underlying every temptation that you receive from the enemy or that you will ever be tempted with, underlying every temptation is that promise from the devil that you'll be satisfied if you do that. That's why we fall for the temptation. We think, "Hey this is gonna be thrilling. This is gonna be exciting if I do this. There's a real satisfaction if I grasp onto that." And so, underlying every temptation is that promise of fulfillment. But you know what? Satan is a big, fat liar. And he's the father of lies. The wages of sin are death, and anyone who's ever lived under Satan's domain has been defeated and beaten down because Satan is a tyrant.
And so it says, "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. When desire is conceived or given birth, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown or mature, it brings forth death." You see, to follow the path of Satan in temptation, to fall for all the temptations and the lures, even though he promises fulfillment immediately, does never really leads us to, um, fulfillment or satisfaction. It only leads us to a greater frustration and a greater desire to be fulfilled. Because we grasp onto the temptation, we fall for it, and we're never satisfaction. We still have a deeper thirst to be satisfied and to be quenched. And so it leads us to a deeper frustration, never satisfaction. I'm reminded the words that God said Jere- to Jeremiah. He said, "Jeremiah, my people Israel have committed two evils. Number one, they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters. And number two, they have hewn out cisterns, broken cisterns which can hold no water." And that's what really temptation is. Now a cistern, as you know, are those big swimming pool things that they would dig out rock by bare hands, chisel and hammer. And a person would work for months out of solid bedrock, chiseling that little cistern. And after months of digging, he was satisfied because the clouds were coming over the horizon, it was gonna rain, and tomorrow he'd have rain in his cistern and he'd have a water supply for his family in the next year. He'd go inside, put his chisel down, he'd be with his wife, he'd be all excited, the rains would come, it'd rain all night long. He'd get up in the morning to see how much water he had in the well. He'd go out and there was nothing. And he couldn't figure it out. And he'd look a little closer at his cistern and there, in his cistern was a small, tiny, hairline fracture that ran throughout the rock that he didn't know. And all the water that came in leaked out because of the fracture. That's what God compares what israel had done and what, really, temptation is. "My people have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and they've dug for themselves cisterns that are broken, that are cracked, that can hold no water." They're trying to be satisfied out of another well and it can never satisfy them. And temptation goes away from God in the path God has set and seeks to be fulfilled by something else, but they're never satisfied. They're still thirsty. That's what temptation is. Satan is a tyrant.
Now, in verses 14 and 15, we see that temptation is not a single act, but it's a process. It just doesn't happen. It is a process that we fall for and we wanna first talk about the four stages of the process of temptation and then we wanna give you some ways to deal with them that are also found from verses 14, uh, through verse 18. The first stage of temptation is called "desire". The second stage of temptation is called "allurement", the third stage, "conception" and the fourth stage is "death". First of all, in verse 14, he speaks about desire. "Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." Desire is that first stage of temptation. Now desires, first of all, were given by God. God gave us natural desires to be fulfilled. And all of us have what the doctors call the, uh, homeostasis, the certain drives within each of us- the hunger drive, the air drive, the sex drive, the water drive. All certain drives and desires that God has put within us. They're natural, they're normal and they're to be fulfilled. But they're to be fulfilled the way God intends them to be fulfilled. Now all the desires are natural and normal. Hunger, for example, is important. We couldn't function without that, that desire of hunger. Because if we didn't eat, we wouldn't get enough energy and we'd die. Sleep and fatigue, fatigue is a normal, natural desire. If we weren't fatigued or tired, we'd never sleep. We'd also die. Sex is a normal, natural drive given by God. If it wasn't, there wouldn't be the human race. But all of these drives were given by man to be fulfilled by God. The problem is, is when we seek to fulfill them by leaving the path that God has set for us, by trying to fulfill them in another way. An example, hunger is normal, gluttony is a sin. Sleep is normal, laziness is a sin. Human sexuality is normal, outside of marriage, it's a sin. You see, it's sort of like beautiful, garden that someone has. Someone has a beautiful rose garden and they put fertilizer in the garden and there's beautiful roses and they till it very nicely. Now that soil, that deep, rich, dark soil looks beautiful in the garden. It's gorgeous. People will say, "Man, that's rich soil you have out there." But if you were to take some of that beautiful, rich soil and go into mom's carpet, which happened to be very white, and drop a shovelful on it, she's not going to think it's too beautiful. Because it's out of it's element; it's out of place. Dirt looks good in a garden, it doesn't look good on a rug. And so all the natural desires, even sexuality, is good in its place. Out of its place, it's very dirty and filthy. But it's intended a natural, normal desire given to G-from God to men so that man can be fulfilled, man can enjoy. And all of the nature desires. But desire, when it's taken, and it's grabbed on to and it starts to control us, we don't control them anymore, then it can be on the pathway to sin. So first of all, each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desire. Desire is really that first stage.
The second stage is allurement. Now notice there's two words in verse 14- "drawn away" and "enticed". These are two words that james uses to describe the second stage of temptation, allurement. Both of these words are actually pictures of a sportsman. The word "drawn away" means to bait a trap. To put a piece of bait inside of a trap, to allure an animal out of its safety or out of its cave into a trap. The second word in verse 14, "enticed" means to bait a hook. Like, you would take worm, put it on a hook, throw it in. So allurement is the second stage. Each one is tempted when he has drawn away, baited a trap, and by his own desires and enticed, where there is a hook, like in fishing, that has been baited. Sportsman always use bait when they wanna catch something. No fish is going to be so stupid, usually. Some of them are (light laughter). To just see a big silver hook there and go, "Oh, that's a nice looking hook, I'm gonna eat it (light laughter)." There used to- there has to be something on there that they wanna eat. I've never seen a fish really have an appetite for hooks. They have an appetite for cheese and worms and all of the little eggs that you put on there. But bait is something that Satan uses for us. Bait always has the idea to hide something, doesn't it? When you bait a hook, what are you really doing? You're psyching the fish out, aren't you? You're hiding what's underneath it. You're hiding the hook. You don't want 'em to know that there's a hook there. You just want them to think there's a nice little cheese ball floating around, he's going to grab onto it and you're gonna hook him. Now that's what Satan does to us. He hides the consequences of sin, the hook. And he hides it with a beautiful allurement and we go, "Ooh, that's gorgeous. Ooh, that sin is exciting. Looks so beautiful I'd be fulfilled if I grabbed on to that." But it's just bait, it's just an allurement. Jesus said to his disciples, "I'm gonna make you fishers of men." But you know what? Satan is also a fisher of men. And in his toolbox, he has all sorts of allurements. "The cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things," Jesus said in Matthew 13. I know how easy it is to get baited by those allurements. "Oh, they look so good." So many things to draw us away from God's path, from seeking first the kingdom. All those temptations. And he puts in on the little hook and he throws it it, and we come swimming by and we go, "Mmm, pretty nice. Looks pretty good. I wonder if there's a hook under there. Nah, probably not. Ah, I'll just go on, play it safe." Come back, swim by a little later, "(Clicks tongue) looks pretty good. Still there. No one's got it." Pretty soon you start thinking that way. That desire to have that bait, nothing wrong with it. But when it's hiding the consequences of sin, you grab onto it and you're be hooked. That's what he, the picture that he is painting in verse 14, "drawn away, to bait a trap and enticed, to bait a hook," hiding the consequences. Now when I was in Manila this last trip to the Philippines, I was hungry and I flew into the Manila airport. I just got, uh, back from Hong Kong and John and I were really hungry. So we're walking through the airport and, you know, we've had oriental food now for a week and we just want some good, old American food. And so we see over on the side there, "Burgers" and we go, "Hamburgers, alright!" So we went and we bought two hamburgers. Good old American, looked just like a normal, American hamburger. Now, it didn't say hamburgers, it just said burgers. I took a bite of this things and it just tasted weird. And John took a bite and goes, "Ah, this is gross, I can't eat it." I go, "Oh, don't worry, it's just a lot of onion sauce on it. Go ahead and eat it." And I took it and I ate half of this thing. He ate one bite and put it down. Then after half of it, I said, "I just can't handle it anymore. I don't know what this thing's made out of." Now we found out later on by a Filipino, we said, "Hey, we ate over here. This tastes so weird." He goes, "Did you eat at such-and-such a restaurant?" "Yes" "And was it right over there in the airport?" "Yeah!" He says, "Did you know that you ate worms?" (laughter) Now this is the truth. He said, "Those burgers are made out of worms (laughter)." So we ate worm burgers. "Could I have a worm burger, please? Hold the lettuce, the pickle, put it on rye." Now, I was deceived (laughter). I felt angry. I also felt sick. You know, I wanted a hamburger. The desire for a hamburger, there's nothing wrong with it. But underneath that normal looking hamburger were worms (light laughter), and I fell for it. And temptation carries with it that aspect of hiding something that you don't really think is there. And we grab onto it and we get deceived, and you can get sick, too (light laughter).
Now, the third stage, in verse 15, is that of conception. "When desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin." The word "conceived" here literally means spawned. It's another word from the animal kingdom, like fish would spawn. Humans don't use that word, it's specifically used for the animal kingdom. We wouldn't say, "Oh, my wife and I just spawned a beautiful baby boy (light laughter)." All three of these words are used specifically for the animal kingdom. Why does he use so many animal metaphors? Because the person living on this level is living no better than an animal would live. It's true. Animals live according to their natural body instincts, drives and desires. They'll, they're hungry, they just wanna eat, they're thirsty, they just wanna drink. And they're controlled by their natural body appetites. They don't control them. When I offer a steak to my dog, she doesn't go, "You know what? I think I'm on a diet. I just wanna hold of a little bit on this. Maybe tomorrow (light laughter)." She says, "Man, it's food. I mean, I was born to eat. I'll go for it." And animals live on that level of just meeting the body appetites. And a person who lives not controlled by the Spirit but by the flesh lives like an animal. That's why I'm so amused at evolution and the teaching of evolution. Because it's actually, it doesn't astonish me that people would believe in evolution at all. The teaching of evolution is simply the result of humanistic thinking. You see, people have been taught to live like animals for so long, the next step is to believe that you came from animals. It's just a natural result of believing and being taught to live a certain way for so long. Live according to your body appetites, your body instincts. You want sex, go get it. If you want food, go get it. Just live according to your body needs. So the natural result is to think we came from animals because we're taught to live like them. And so James uses these three metaphors to describe the person who is following the allurements of Satan and not walking according to the Spirit. The hook goes out, people grab onto it.
Now, the fourth stage in verse 15 is, "it gives birth to sin and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." That's the fourth stage of temptation, finally death. So you see, grabbing on to that temptation doesn't fulfill you. Grabbing on to that allurement, because you think you're gonna be so fulfilled temporarily, only leads to a greater frustration and eventually death. The promise in Scripture, "The wages of sin is," what? "Death." It's God's promise. You will reap what you sow. And so, "when it is full-grown, it brings forth death." This is the final stage of temptation. When you play with fire, you get burned.
A wise person, however, will look at the allurement and think ahead and look ahead and say, "What will be the result if I grab the bait, if I fall for this temptation? What's gonna happen? I'm gonna look down the road." And a wise person will always look ahead to see the consequences of what could happen if he falls for it. Now, we have some friends who like to go river-rafting. Good at it, too. But I know that they're smart enough to not go river-rafting at Niagara Falls. Now, the river before the falls at Niagara Falls I'm sure is just as beautiful as any other river in the United States. I'm sure that the rapids are just as excited and just as challenging before the falls in Niagara in New York than they are anywhere else. But why doesn't anyone raft there? Because they know that ahead of that little beautiful river and rapids is a falls, and it'll kill them. They think ahead. They look down the road. And a wise person will see the allurement, see the bait that's brought to them, and they'll think, "What will be the end result if I grab onto this? Is it gonna be life or is it gonna be death?" And so it says, "Finally, when it's full-grown, it brings forth death." It make take many years. You might have some secret sin that you haven't dealt with, and you know what it is. And you might think, "Oh, this isn't a big deal. You know, it's just a little thing." But you know that God isn't pleased with it. It can only remain secret for so long. Pretty soon it'll come to the surface. It gets full-grown. And when it's full-grown, it brings forth death. You can't hide it. And so we should deal with these things. If there's a problem area that God wants us to deal with, a certain area of temptation, we need to know how to deal with it when it comes our way. Not to deliberately put ourselves in jeopardy, to stay away from those weak areas, when a temptation comes, know how to deal it. When we see the bait, know what to do with it. Deal with it, don't just deny it, because it'll get full-grown. When it's full-grown, it says it can bring forth death.
You know, the old nature that we posses, that we mentioned earlier, is like a weed. You know weeds grow naturally, don't they? You don't water your weeds. You don't buy weed fertilizer so that they'll grow big and healthy. Weeds grow in and of themselves, uncontrollably, automatically. Your garden, however, requires diligence and work, doesn't it? Your lawn doesn't grow unless you water it. And you fertilize it and you till and tend the garden and the flowers and everything. But the weeds grow automatically. Your old nature will also grow automatically and when it's full, it's full-grown, it'll overtake your yard. And so the old nature is something we need to constantly be crucifying, the new nature is something we need to constantly be diligent and cultivate it. Because that sin, alluring, falling to those allurements, letting our old nature follow the path of Satan and be taking off the path of God, even though it's the path of the cross, will bring forth in the end, death.
Now these four stages were the four stages Satan came to Eve with in the garden. First of all, she came with a desire, or Satan came with a desire. "Hey, look at that tree. You know, Eve, if you eat of this, God doesn't want you to because if you eat of this, you'll be wise as God and you'll know good and evil just like God does." Oh, there's nothing wrong with that desire to know, to have knowledge. That's just the first stage, desire. Second stage, allurement. Eve goes, "Man, the fruit of that tree is good to look upon, pleasant to the eyes. It'd be good for food and it's able to make me wise." The third was the bait, or that conception where she grabbed on to the bait and it brought forth sin. That desire then she wasn't controlling the desire, the desire controlled her and she fell for the bait. And then finally, death. She was separated from God spiritually and also a physical death. And she brought it up, her actually, Adam and Eve brought it upon the whole world. So these four stages were also in the garden.
Now, in verse 16 it says, "Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." I found out today that that word "deceived" means to wander. "Do not wander, my beloved brethren. Do not meander." In other words, God has cut the path for fulfillment. Don't let the allurements and the temptations make you wander from that path. And then in verse 17, he contrasts this with God, "Every good gift, every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first-fruits of His creatures, or of his creation." In these two verses, he contrasts the way of Satan with the way of God. He just been speaking about temptation and allurements, but he says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." What James mentions here are two things that are true about God. Number one is goodness. And number two, his immutability, which means that God doesn't change. First of all he says God is good and every good gift comes from God. James says this because one of Satan's greatest tricks is to tell you that God does not love you unconditionally. That God is not a God of love. To show you that his love can be earned. That God doesn't give you good things. That it would be God who would allow you to be tempted. He says, "No, every good gift comes from above. Down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning."
Now, we find so far two ways to combat or to deal with temptation. The first one is positive, or the negative and the second one is positive. And this might actually help you if you can remember this next times you're tempted. The first one is he actually speaks about in verse 15 and 16. and that is the judgement of God. It will bring forth death. So the first barrier against temptation is to realize the judgement of God. To look down the road and see where this could lead. That's the first deterrent and barrier against temptation. The second one is a positive one. To think about the goodness of God. That God is good. That all my needs can be met ini God and God alone, not with anyone else, and not with Satan. Satan can't meet my needs. He can't fulfill me if I follow that allurement. Only God can satisfy me. Only God can make me full and fulfilled. And if we think about number one, the judgement of God, where the temptation will lead. Number two the goodness of God, that God can meet all of my needs. That God loves me. That He seeks to give me good gifts. Those are two good deterrents from temptation. You know I believe that David would not have sinned if he would've remember the goodness of God. At least that's what Nathan told him. After he sinned with Bathsheba, Nathan came to David and he said, "David, thus sayeth the Lord God, 'I have taken you out of the sheepfolds, I have made you king over Israel. I have given you the house of Israel, the house of Judah, I have given you your wives, I have given you your kingdom, I've given you your house. And if this would not have, you know, if this would've been too little, I would've given you much more." Notice the repetition, "give, give, give, give." But David forgot the goodness of God and all that God had done for him. And he fell for temptation because he felt if he sinned and lay in sexual immorality with Bathsheba, he could be fulfilled, and it only led to greater frustration because he forgot the goodness of God. So every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, comes down from the father of lights."
And then he speaks now about the immutability of God, "with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." God is immutable. That's a word you might remember. It means God does not change. Jesus Christ the same today, yesterday and forever. And God's love for you does not change. Now I think that's a difficult concept for us to grasp, because we often relate to God as if his love does change. We think, "You know, last week I was, I read the word every day, I had quiet time, I was just walking with the Lord. But this week was tough, I didn't really get to do it like I wanted to. God doesn't love you, love me as much this week as he did last week." And even though we don't say that, we unconsciously live that way. As if God certainly couldn't bless me as much as he did last week. God blesses me of course because I'm so diligent. False. And so we tend to think that God's love changes. But here he says there is no changing. God is immutable. There is no variation of change or turning with God. God's love never changes. And by the way, you cannot influence God's love. So let's quit trying. I think so many times we try to give God reasons that he should love us. "Oh God, you know how much better I've been this week than last week. Oh, I've really sought you and because I've fasted and prayed, certainly you're gonna bless me more." Or, "I'm much better than that person over there. You know that I don't do those kind of sins. So God, obviously you'll bless me more." No, that's not the truth. God doesn't bless you because of you, He does it in spite of you and because of Him because He's faithful. That's why God blesses. And so I think trying to influence God and influence God's love is an insult to God. Because God loves you unconditionally, when you're bad and when you're good. Immutability of God. There is no variation or shadow of turning.