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AM Bible Study Archives
"Passing the Temptation Test"
Sunday School Youth Group Study Notes
April 27, 2008
Theme: God blesses those who holds up under temptations to sin.
(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
There are certain things you can count on in life. And one of them is that you will be tempted to sin. What may be a great temptation to someone else may not be a big problem to you; and what may be a great problem to you may not be such a problem for someone else. But what we all have in common is that we will be tempted to sin—in one way or another.
Pastor James knew this. And so, he makes sure that he tells his Christian brothers and sisters what they need to know about temptation. In verses 13-18, he tells us where temptation comes from and now it works in us. But he begins, in verse 12, by telling us about the blessings that come for those who resist temptation.
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Before we talk resisting temptation, here's something that it might be very good to remember. As you grow to learn about the blessings that come from enduring temptation, you should also know that you'll blow it—lots of times. We don't want to blow it if we love the Lord Jesus Christ—but we still do. We won't be 'perfect' until heaven (see Jude 24-25). But we need to keep at it. It's a little like ice-skating. The first time you do it, you'll fall. Then, you can go a little further, but then fall again. And then, a little further still, but down you go again. After a while, you're skating pretty good.
The key is to make sure that you have trusted in Jesus Christ and in His cross as the payment for your sins. And each time you blow it, come back to the Lord and confess it—knowing that Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins and to take them away. A good passage to remember is 1 John 1:8-2:2;
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
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Having said that, let's now look at James' teaching in just this one verse. There are three helpful things we need to know . . .
I. TEMPTATIONS ARE GOING TO COME.
You can count on it. So long as you live on this earth in a body, you'll be tempted to sin. If you are a Christian, and you find that you struggle with temptations in life, don't worry that you're weird. In fact, you're very normal. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says; "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it."
II. "TEMPTATIONS" MEAN "TESTING".
Did you know that the same Greek word that the Bible uses for a "temptation" is also one that it uses for a "test"? When you take a test in school, it isn't to make your life miserable (even though you might think it is). The purpose of the "test" is to show what you've learned—to prove that you really 'get it'. And that's why God allows "temptations" to come into our lives. From our standpoint, they are "temptations" to sin; but from our loving Father's standpoint, they are "trials" to train us, to help us grow in our faith in Christ, and to prove that we genuinely trust Him. (Look back to James 1:2-4. Remember what it says about "trials" there?)
III. GOD REWARDS ENDURANCE.
James says that the person who "endures temptation" is "blessed". He or she should be "happy". Why? It's because the test of "temptations" helps prove the reality of our faith in Jesus Christ (see 1 Peter 1:6-7). And once someone is "approved" (that is, tested through the trials of temptation, and proven to truly trust in Jesus Christ), they will receive the "crown of life". This isn't speaking of a "crown" like a king would wear; but rather of a wreath that a runner in the ancient Greek games would receiver when he or she won the race (see Hebrews 12:1-2; Revelation 2:10). It's called the crown of "life", because it speaks of the eternal life we will enjoy with Jesus (see 2 Timothy 4:6-8). And it's not a reward we receive for being "perfect"; but one we receive for the proof—through the trials—that we genuinely love and trust Jesus. He gives it to "those who love Him."
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WHAT TO DO THIS WEEK:
Read 1 John 3:1-3. What motivation do you see in this passage for striving to live a holy life and for resisting temptations to sin?
Where does temptation come from?
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