This is message #2 in our expository series in James, The Gospel for Real Life.
I like to fish. Admittedly, I’m not very good at it. But when I do catch a fish and proceed to remove the hook, I kind of feel sorry for the creature. He was hungry, thought he saw an easy meal, and took a bite. Certainly, getting hooked was an unexpected and unpleasant consequence. His bad day would only get worse if I, too, were hungry. ‘Cause he’d not just get hooked, but filleted.
In our passage this morning, James shows us that we are not unlike fish. We, too, are often driven by appetite and fail to consider the consequences of what we bite into.
Adam and Eve, driven by the appetite of self-glory, bit into the forbidden fruit and experienced the devastating consequences of sin.
What James wants to show us is that the bait of sin is not just wrong, it is harmful—it is bad for your spiritual health, physical health, relational health, etc.
So, when we face temptation, we are not just dealing with right and wrong, but with life/blessing and death/ruin.
- The temptation to buy something you can’t afford with cash can lead to the death of credit card debt. The new shoes just might be bait.
- The temptation to fulfil a sexual appetite with internet pornography can lead to marital death. That website is bait.
- The temptation to gossip can lead to the hardening of spiritual arteries by allowing self-righteousness to get a foothold in your heart. Someone else’s sin can be bait.
- An insult can be bait.
- The need to win can be bait.
- Double-layered cheesecake can be bait.
A piece of cheesecake isn’t necessarily bait. Neither is a pair of new shoes. Good things are not inherently evil. But if you are trying to lower your BMI for health reasons or get out of credit card debt, they just might be bait for you. Different kinds of fish require different lures.
The enemy knows this, which is why we all get baited with something.
What James wants to show us is that the bait of sin is not just wrong, it is harmful.
In this message, I want to help us understand…
- The source of temptation,
- Recognize the danger embedded in temptation and
- The deception of temptation,
- And ultimately I want us to experience the power for resisting temptation.