Lesson 3

Enduring Temptation

(James 1:12-21)
Print this lesson | Bookmark/Share:

Introduction: Let's review our last two studies. James writes to Jewish Christians who have fled their homes because of persecution. James tells them that they should find joy in trials. Those who have fled their homes were probably unable to take all of their wealth with them. So, James next suggests that they should take pride in "humble circumstances." Joy and pride for those dealing with serious problems. These are challenging teachings. If you could have joy and pride in the midst of trouble, that would be wonderful! Let's race into our study of the Bible to see what challenging solution James explains next!

  1. Crown of Life


    1. Read James 1:12. What is the reward at the end of all of this trouble? ("The crown of life!")


      1. How do you get this crown? How do you acquire eternal life? James gives us two possibilities:


        1. Standing the test; or,


        2. Loving God. Do you think it is one, both, or neither?


    2. Read Titus 3:4-7. What light does this shed on James 1:12? (Titus says we are not saved "because of righteous things we have done." That means that "standing the test" is not the correct answer if the "test" is some sort of work. Titus says we were saved "when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared." Loving the God who loved us first has to be a correct answer.)


      1. If you also like "standing the test" as a correct answer, what do you think constitutes the "test?" (The test of faith would work. Recall last week James wrote that "belief" is essential for receiving things from God. James 1:6-7.)


  2. Temptation


    1. Read James 1:13. Think again about the background of those to whom James is writing. Why would they be inclined to think that God was tempting them? (They are new converts to Christianity. Right after they convert, they have to flee. In their new home they are poor immigrants. Who is at fault for their current trials? (You can see where they would be tempted to blame God. This is a reason for James to have just written that God will give them a crown!)


    2. Read James 1:14. How are we tempted? (We know from the story of Eve ( Genesis 3:1-6)that Satan and our spouse can tempt us. But, this says that we tempt ourselves.)


      1. Does this mean that we have natural tendencies towards evil? (Yes!)


      2. Read Isaiah 64:6. What does this say about our works? (They are like filthy rags. Clearly, we have a problem.)


    3. Look again at James 1:14. How strong are these "self-temptations?" (Apparently strong enough for us to be "dragged away.")


    4. Read James 1:15. Have you ever seen a big river and wondered where it started? Where does the sin that kills us start? (It starts with our own evil desire. It starts in our mind.)


      1. Does this seem right or wrong in your experience? How many times have you just "tripped" into sin? It was purely an accident. How many times is your sin a result of you giving great thought about it, or maybe thinking about some lesser form of the sin?


    5. Read Matthew 15:17-19. What does Jesus say is the source of sin? (The "heart." When Jesus says, "heart" He means our thoughts, our desires. James and Jesus agree that sin has a predictable pattern. We first roll the idea around in our mind. After we think about it enough we begin to act on it. At some point the sin becomes "full-grown" ( James 1:15) and if we continue, kills us.)


    6. Read Romans 8:5-8. What should we do about our evil desires? (Don't set your mind on those things.)


      1. What do you think "set your mind" means? Does it mean don't think about the evil thing that creates trouble for you?


      2. Read Romans 7:7-11. What is the source of the covetous desire? (Sin and the command not to covet.)


      3. Think about this. If we let our minds dwell on some evil thing that is the path to sin. But, if we concentrate on the commandment that tells us not to do the evil thing, that produces an evil desire. What is the solution? (If my understanding is correct, we should avoid thinking about the sin, and avoid thinking about the commandment which tells you not to do the sin.)


    7. Read Romans 8:5 again. What is the solution to the battle of the mind? (Instead of concentrating on your sins - either the sin or the prohibition - think instead about what God has in mind for us. Focus on what you can do to advance the Kingdom of God.)


    8. Read James 1:16. Scan the context. What deception do you think James has in mind? (James just refuted the idea that God tempts us. The context suggests that we should not be deceived by the idea that God will tempt us.)


    9. Read James 1:17. What kind of gifts is James writing about? What does the context suggest? (The context suggests that we are still talking about temptation. If I'm correct, this bolsters the idea that we should not dwell on sin, we should not dwell on the commandment that causes us to want to sin, we should not dwell on our problems, instead we should dwell on the great blessings that God has given us and how we can advance God's work.)


      1. Would my interpretation of this make any sense for people who have been driven from their homes and are now poor? (Can you see that James argument comes full circle? James says that joy and pride can be realized in such circumstances. Joy and pride are gifts. Dwell on God's gifts.)


  3. Gift of Life


    1. Read James 1:18. Which birth is referred to here? (Read 1 Peter 1:3-4. James is not talking about us being born, he is talking about us being saved.)


    2. Look again at James 1:18. How are we saved? ("Through the word of truth.")


      1. What is the "word of truth?" ( John 1:1 tells us that Jesus is the "Word," but I think that James means this more broadly - the teachings about Jesus.)


      2. Are "first-fruits" good? (Fausset's tells us "The whole land's produce was consecrated to God by the consecration of the first-fruits." James encourages these early Christians by saying that they are special to God, they are the beginning of the harvest. Be encouraged!)


        1. What is the overall message to these persecuted Christians? (You are special. You are the first. Your trials bring you a mature attitude that allows joy. God did not bring these problems, God only gives you good gifts.)


  4. Wisdom in Action


    1. Read James 1:19-20. We discussed these verses in an earlier lesson and decided that this is advice that gives us greater emotional intelligence. Re-read James 1:13. What is the special issue for these early Christians? (They may think that because Jesus suffered and died, God was bringing them suffering, persecution and poverty. James essentially says "This is not true. God only brings good gifts. This is the work of Satan. Let this advice sink in. Think about it, rather than talking. Don't be quick to get angry.")


    2. Read James 1:21. James writes, "Which can save you." Save us from what? (We learned earlier that we do not earn eternal life by our works. This must mean that accepting the word of God, getting rid of "all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent," saves us from trouble.)


      1. Why would James tell us to "humbly accept" the word of God? (James teaching seems so counter-intuitive. He tells them that persecution brings joy. We may think that "moral filth" brings joy, but in truth it brings trouble. James says that we should put aside our pride and accept the words that will give us joy and peace.)


    3. Friend, what about you? Are you willing to accept the words of James that seem contrary to the message of the world? Are you willing, beginning now, to give his advice a chance in your life?


  5. Next week: Being and Doing.

To receive the Bible Study of the Week by e-mail, please enter your e-mail address:

 Subscribe in a reader

GoBible.org Kindle Edition

Read the GoBible studies on your Amazon Kindle. Your subscription includes wireless delivery of the Bible Study of the Week via Amazon Whispernet.

Lessons on James

Attention Translators!

Would you like to help us share the Bible Study of the Week with others? At present, the Bible Study of the Week can be read in ten languages: Bosnian, English, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish. We welcome serious volunteers who are willing to spend the time each week to translate the lessons from English into another language. We are particularly interested in having the lesson translated into Portuguese. Please contact us if you would like to volunteer to translate.

Bible Study Software

Bruce Cameron reviews PC Study Bible and Logos, the two Bible study software programs he uses to prepare the GoBible lessons. Click here to learn more about these helpful Bible study tools.

(The above ads are provided by Google. The individual advertisements are not approved or endorsed by GoBible.org. If you see an ad that you believe to be inappropriate, please contact us and we will ask Google to remove it.)