Temptation & Desire – How To Avoid Sin

Temptation & Desire – How To Avoid Sin


James 1:12-15 ESV  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.  (13)  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  (14)  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  (15)  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • We are now in our 8th sermon in James, but this sermon is really a continuation of our second sermon from James titled “Shut the Enemy Up”.
    • And the truth is, James 1:2 all the way to James 1:18 are about this topic… the context of all of these sermons are about the temptation that comes when our faith is tested.
    • But we are taking our time going through James, so it has been a couple months since we talked about verses 2 through 4… since that second sermon from James… so before I get into today’s sermon, let’s recap that one… it comes from James 1:2-1:4but specifically I want to focus on verse 2 (and I am going to read it from the King James version, because the ESV kind of messes this translation up, but I won’t get into that this morning…)

James 1:2 KJV  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

  • Count it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when ye fall into diverse temptations… when you are tempted in all sorts of different ways…!
    • Now wait a minute… In verse 2 James says count it all joy when we are tempted…
    • But in verse 15 it says that temptation gives birth to sin…
      • Is James saying we should count it all as joy when we fall into sin?!
        • NO! That is an incomplete and immature understanding of temptation… but it is one that many people hold without knowing it.
      • Today we are going to reveal that false understanding and we are going to tear it down.
      • We are going to reveal what James meant when he said “Count it all joy” and we are going to talk about how even through temptation, we can as Christians can avoid sin.

Show Title Slide

  • Temptation and Desire  – How to Avoid Sin

Teaching: A Proper Understanding of Temptation

  • Now before we get into how to avoid sin, we have to do some teaching… y’all know how it is, you get the teaching, then you get the application.
    • I want y’all to have a proper understating of Temptation
  • See as I was teaching Youth Group this Wednesday, the topic was temptation! And I asked this question: How would you define temptation.
    • Now our youth are incredibly smart and they know their Bible, I couldn’t be more proud of this youth group!
    • But most of them gave a really incomplete or skewed answer to the question “What is temptation”… and I think it is the answer most of y’all would give:
  • Now, the youth are a sharp bunch… but these answers are wrong… and don’t worry they caught on quick, I hope y’all do too!
    • These answers do not define temptation, they define desire and sinful desire.
  • Now what I need y’all to understand is that “Desire” is not synonymous with temptation. Desire and temptation are NOT the same thing…
    • They have to do with the same subject matter, but they are not the same thing.
    • A better word is “entice”… “entice” pretty much resembles the word temptation…
  • For those of you who are not math majors, the equal sign with a slash through it means “does not equal” and the squiggly equal sign means “close to equal” or “approximately equal”.
    • So desire does not equal temptation… but the word entice… yeah that is pretty close to what temptation is…
  • But if we miss this point… if we teach that desire is the same thing as temptation… then we create a burdensome and unjust Christianity…
    • For example: Being hungry is a desire! It is not a temptation… it is a desire. GOD CREATED YOU TO HAVE THIS DESIRE.
      • And it is a good thing, when your body needs food it tells you and gives you a desire to eat.
      • Without this God given desire, we would die as a species.
    • Another example: The desire to procreate… in and of itself, this desire is NOT temptation.
      • It is a good thing… God created us to desire to procreate! If we did not have this desire we would dire out as a species.
  • These are what we call “Holy Desires”. It is a holy desire to want to have a wife or a husband and to want to procreate with them.
    • It is a holy desire to want to eat healthy food to fuel your body so you can have energy to do the work of the Gospel.
  • Holy Desire is not the same thing as temptation. But temptation plays on your holy desire and tries to turn it into sinful, unholy desire… temptation tries to distort your desires into something other than Godly.
  • Therefore I think a better definition of temptation is this:
  • When the world, your flesh, or the enemy tries to entice you to sin (particularly by playing off your God given desires).
  • With that in mind lets read our key verses again from this morning:

James 1:13-15 ESV  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  (14)  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  (15)  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • What is layed out here in these verses is a timeline of how Godly desire can turn into sin by way of temptation… to illustrate I have this little timeline illustration:
  • James 1:13 says let no one say when they are being tempted that they are being tempted by God. God can not tempt.
    • Therefore holy desire, which is from God, can not be temptation.
    • Instead temptation comes after holy desire… you are living life with this holy desire, and temptation butts in and interrupts.
      • You have a holy desire, let’s say, to procreate… God created man and woman to be together, to get married, to have and enjoy sex, and to have babies.
        • So you have a holy desire “I want to eat”.
        • That’s from God! Eating is good!
      • But then temptation comes in…
        • The enemy says “You know, you could eat Texas Roadhouse… they are so busy you could walk out without paying and no one would notice!”
        • The world says “It really won’t hurt anyone, Texas Roadhouse makes plenty of money! It is a victimless crime!”
        • Your flesh says “I know I could eat leftovers at home… But a big juicy steak with a baked potato sounds SOOOOOOO good right now… so what if you dine and dash!”
    • You see the desire wasn’t sinful, but what followed was.
      • And if you are not careful, that temptation will turn into fantasy…
        • “You know I DO deserve a steak dinner… and I probably won’t get caught… and even if I did get caught, it’s not like I would go to jail… plus I could order that steak I have always wanted but could never afford… you know, it’s just a one time thing… it won’t hurt anyone… plus my friend told me he used to do this all the time…”
      • Now see the Holy Desire was from God… but then temptation came in from the enemy, or the world, or your flesh, or any combination of those three…
      • And that temptation played off your holy desire and, if you allow it, will turn your holy desire into an unholy desire…
        • Then that unholy desire… that fantasy… those sinful thoughts… will lead you to sin… when you actually follow through on those sinful thoughts…
          • Then you find yourself sitting in the back of a cop car in the Texas Roadhouse parking lot  thinking “How did I get here”…
    • This is the timeline of how holy desire turns into wicked sin…
      • Your Holy Desire to procreate…
        • Then temptation comes in through the form of a woman who is not your wife… and the enemy says “you could have her”…
        • Then your fantasize about that relationship.
        • Then you end up cheating on your wife…
        • Next thing you know you are in divorce court thinking “how did I get here”
      • Your holy desire to have friends…
        • Then temptation comes to gossip…
        • And you spend time thinking about negative thoughts about this other person…
        • Then you end up gossiping about them…
        • Then you wind up friendless thinking “How did I get here?”
      • Your holy desire to earn money for your family…
        • Temptation comes and says “take a little money from the company, no one will know”…
        • You fantasize about what you could do with that money…
        • You end up embezzling money from work.
        • Now you are in prison wondering “How did I get here”.
  • And people try to blame God… they say “God made me this way… I just can’t help it, I am a man and that is what I think about!”
    • No! God did not make you to lust after other women! God made you to be with one woman! This lust is your own fault!
  • Why does Drama always follow me? God why don’t you let me have friends?
    • No, God did not make you gossip! That sin is your own fault!
  • If God would have given me a better job I would not need to steal…
    • No, God did NOT tempt you to steal… this is your own dang fault!
    • This church is how temptation works… and it is what James is talking about:

James 1:13-15 ESV  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. (The holy desires you have are from God, they are NOT temptation!)  (14)  But each person is tempted (by the world, the flesh, or the enemy) when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (your holy desire has now turned into unholy fantasy).  (15)  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (It’s your own dang fault, not God’s).

  • So what do we do about it? How do we avoid sin? WE HAVE TO INTERRUPT THIS FLOW OF EVENTS. WE HAVE TO INTTERUPT THIS TIMELINE.
    • We need to ACT… not be passive, letting temptation run it’s course… but we need to be active… we need to do something about it… and there are two places on this timeline where we can act…
  • We avoid sin by avoiding temptation…
    • And we avoid sin by fleeing temptation…
    • These are the two places to act to avoid sin…
      • If temptation turns to fantasy, then you have entered into sin…
    • But if we can cut it off before it enters into our mind as fantasy, then we have avoided sin!

Hebrews 4:15 ESV  For we do not have a high priest (Jesus) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

  • Jesus was tempted and never sinned, therefore we know that temptation by itself is not sin… but it can easily turn into sin if we don’t do something about it!
    • So let’s spend the remainder of the morning talking about how to avoid sin! Point one this morning: Avoid Sin by Avoiding temptation.

Point One – Avoid Sin By Avoiding Temptation

James 1:14 ESV  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

  • Well you can’t lure me away by my own desire if I am not standing anywhere near you!
    • Some Christians like to try to find the line… they try to get close to the line without going over…
    • How far can I go before it is considered sin…
      • How far can this fantasy take me?
      • How much can I do?
      • How much can I say?
      • How much can I think before this is sin?
      • How close can I get to the line…
    • They live this way then act all surprised when they fall into sin! WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS GOING TO HAPPEN?!
  • Sin entices you, it lures you… you get close to the line and sin says “Come on over” and the enemy gives you an encouraging little nudge, and your flesh begins to pull you toward the line, and the world is out there cheering you on!
    • “You can do it, cross the line, enter into sin!”
  • But listen, this could all be avoided if you would just stay away from sin, stay away from temptation, stay away from the line!
    • I heard it put this way once: You can’t fall into the Grand Canyon if you are standing in Texas!
  • Let me give you an example:
    • What if I told you that I would give you 25 million dollars a year, every year, for the rest of your life… on one condition… that you never eat a tomato ever again. Just one bite of tomato and you are cut off…
    • If that was the case, how would you live your life?
      • I would STAY AWAY from tomatoes.
      • I would check every hamburger twice.
      • I would hire a personal chief and make him sign a waiver saying he is liable for hundreds of millions of dollars if he ever feeds me a tomato.
      • I would stay away from grocery stores.
      • I would not allow tomatoes in my house.
      • I wouldn’t eat at other peoples houses just in case they cooked with tomatoes.
    • WHY DON’T WE TREAT SIN THIS WAY? We have something so much more valuable than 25 million dollars!
  • Consider Adam and Eve… THEY HAD EVERYTHING! FOR ETERNITY! They just had one rule! Don’t eat the fruit of this one tree.
    • In hindsight, they shouldn’t have been anywhere near that tree.
    • They could have built a wall around the tree.
    • They could have avoided that part of the garden.
    • They could have STAYED AWAY.
  • Consider David, he is looking out over the city… and he see’s Bathsheba naked…
    • What is David doing on that roof… has he seen woman bathing from there before? Did he know this would happen? If so, HE SHOULD HAVE BEEN NOWHERE NEAR THIS ROOF.
  • If you are an alcoholic… maybe don’t go to liquor stores… avoid the alcohol section at the grocery store… don’t eat in restaurants with a bar in it.
    • If you are prone to Gossip, maybe it’s time to stop talking to those friends you love to gossip with.
    • If you struggle with sweets… maybe you need to stop baking cookies! I know in our house we just had to decide… no more baking cookies for church events… because Amanda will bake 3 dozen cookies and then we will have eaten them all before the event!
  • And even before temptation comes… you should be waking up in the morning and praying this “Lord lead me not into temptation”! We prayed it this morning, it is part of how Jesus taught us to pray!

Matthew 6:9-13 ESV  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  (10)  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  (11)  Give us this day our daily bread,  (12)  and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  (13)  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

  • Lead us not into temptation! What does that mean?
    • It means to have a heart like this “Father, I want you to guide my steps today! And I don’t want you to lead me down the fastest path, or the easiest path… but I want the path with the least temptation… if it means taking the long way, I will take the long way, if it means taking the road less traveled, then that is what I will do… Father I don’t even want to be near temptation, so as You lead me, please lead me away from temptation, rout me around it, make a path that doesn’t include temptation for me”.
  • Start praying this way church, and watch as two things happen: One, you see a lot less temptation… and two, you yourself will  begin to avoid temptation more because avoiding temptation is on the forefront of your mind and prayers.
  • So we can avoid sin by avoiding temptation… but sometimes temptation finds us nonetheless… that’s what point two is for… Avoid sin by Fleeing Temptation…

Point Two – Avoid Sin By Fleeing Temptation

James 1:13-15 ESV  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.  (14)  But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  (15)  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

  • Sometimes temptation finds us… for example, Satan found Jesus in the wilderness after Jesus was fasting… Jesus was not lead into temptation… but temptation went out of it’s way to find Jesus… what do we do in this situation?
  • We must not let temptation stay in our head… we must not let it turn into fantasy, into unholy desires, into sinful thoughts.
    • We must take that temptation captive and destroy it… get it out of our heads… get away from it… WE CAN NOT LET IT STAY AROUND.
    • Because the second it goes from temptation into Fantasy, it enters into sin.

Genesis 3:1-6 ESV  Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”  (2)  And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,  (3)  but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”  (4)  But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  (5)  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  (6)  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

  • When she saw that the tree was good for food… it was a delight to the eyes…
      • Up to this point she hadn’t entered in to sin, the temptation was not sin…
      • When temptation came she should have cried out “Get the behind me Satan!”
      • She should have got up and ran away!
      • She should have crushed that snake under her little naked foot!
        • But instead she reasoned with satan.
        • She had a conversation with him.
        • She thought about it.
        • She looked longingly at the tree.
        • “You know that fruit really does look delightfully delicious… and I wouldn’t mind being a bit wiser… hmmm”.
      • She didn’t flee temptation, and it ended with her sinning and bringing the curse onto the world!

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

1 Corinthians 10:13-14 ESV  No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  (14)  Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

1 Corinthians 6:18 ESV  Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.

  • When temptation comes we have two things we should do… we should take the thought captive and demand that it obeys Christ.
    • And second, we should GET AWAY from the temptation! We should flee the temptation… be it sexual sin, idolatry, or any other form of temptation… take the thought captive and get away.

2 Samuel 11:2-4a ESV  It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful.  (3)  And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  (4)  So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her…

  • Look, it wasn’t like David saw Bathsheba naked and then BAM they were sleeping together… no, some things transpired inbetween those two events.
    • First he saw her bathing.
    • THEN HE EXAMINDE HER… how did he know she was beautiful? Because he kept looking at her, he checked her out.
      • He should have noped out of that situation… turned right around… he knew that woman wasn’t his wife.
    • Then he sent to inquire about her… WHY?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? What does it matter who she is or if she is married… SHE AINT YOUR WIFE BRO.
      • You see he had a fantasy playing in his head… he wanted to get close to the line… “Well lets just find out about this girl”…
    • Next thing you know they are having a baby together and he is plotting the murder of her husband… David must have thought “How did I get here”. ITS YOUR OWN FAULT BRO!
      • You should have fled temptation. The second you saw what you thought might be a woman bathing, you should have turned right around and gone inside.
        • And when you flee and your flesh says “Have another look, she might be beautiful” you take that thought captive and say “I DON’T CARE, She is not my wife, I will not dishonor my wife, or God, by looking”.
        • And if the temptation persisted David should have called up his boy Nathan and said “Yo, there is this woman bathing over there… I didn’t get a good look, but I wanted to, now I can’t get the thought out of my head… would you pray with me?”!
        • I promise you at that confession the thought and the temptation will leave!

James 5:16 ESV  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 4:7 ESV  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

  • Adam and Eve did it wrong, King David did it wrong, But Jesus gave us the example of doing it right…
  • Let me conclude with the example of Jesus’ temptation…


Luke 4:1-4 ESV  And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness  (2)  for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.  (3)  The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”  (4)  And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”

  • Bring that temptation timeline back up with were to act…
  • So, Jesus did it right… He was avoiding temptation, he prayed “lead me not into temptation” and He was not in a place that would tempt Him… to the contrary He was praying and fasting in the wilderness.
    • But temptation found Him…
    • You see Jesus was hungry, of course He was, He haddn’t eaten for 40 days… nothing wrong with that desire, it is how God designed humans… that is a holy Desire.
    • But Temptation comes along… Satan comes along and says “Turn that stone into bread”
      • Jesus knew it would be sin, to obey Satan instead of God… God said fast! Jesus would eat when he was done fasting, and He would eat bread that was rightfully His…
      • Jesus knew what Satan was asking was sin…
      • And Satan knew that Jesus was very very hungry.
        • So what did Jesus do… here is what He did not do.
        • He did not think about it.
        • He did not reason with Satan and have a conversation with Him saying “You know… I am not sure… maybe I could… what do you think?”
        • Jesus didn’t fantasize about bread “What if I did, I could totally turn that stone into the best bread ever! It would be warm and good and delicious… I know I shouldn’t… but man can you imagine?!”
      • No Jesus did not do any of those things… Jesus struck down that argument, took that thought captive, and resisted the devil.
        • “NO! God’s Word is more important, I don’t need bread, I NEED MORE OF GOD’S WORD!”
  • Jesus did this with two more temptations… Satan would tempt, immediately Jesus would destroy Satan’s argument with scripture! And then after all three temptations, look what happens:

Luke 4:13 ESV  And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

  • Satan went away!
    • Church I want you to be sin free! And to accomplish this, we must avoid temptation, and flee from it, fight it, resist it, and destroy it when it comes.
    • Church! I want you to be blessed! And to accomplish this we must stay steadfast even when being tempted!

James 1:12 ESV  Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial (of temptation), for when he has stood the test (and not sinned, no matter the temptation) he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

  • There is no middle ground! TELL TEMPTATION WHO IS BOSS!

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 ESV  For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  (4)  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  (5)  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,  (6)  being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

  • Gospel Call (Quick)

Aaronic Blessing


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