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Evening Bible Study


6:00 PM

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Evening Bible Study



First Missionary Baptist Church

Wednesday Night Bible Study

Jeremie Turner, Sr. Senior Pastor

Subject: The Book of James
(An Expository Study)

James 1:14-16


The hunter and the fisherman have to use bait to attract and catch their prey. No animal is deliberately going to step into a trap and no fish will knowingly bite at a naked hook. The idea is to hide the trap and the hook. Temptation always carries with it some bait that appeals to our natural desires. The bait not only attracts us, but it also hides the fact that yielding to the desire will eventually bring sorrow and punishment.


It is the bait that is the exciting thing. Lot would never have moved toward Sodom had he not seen the “well-watered plains of Jordan” (Gen. 13:10ff). When David looked on his neighbor’s wife, he would never have committed adultery had he seen the tragic consequences: the death of a baby (Bathsheba’s son), the murder of a brave soldier (Uriah), the violation of a daughter (Tamar). The bait keeps us from seeing the consequences of sin.


When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He always dealt with the temptation on the basis of the Word of God. Three times He said, “It is written.” From the human point of view, turning stones into bread to satisfy hunger is a sensible thing to do; but not from God’s point of view. When you know the Bible, you can detect the bait and deal with it decisively. This is what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.


The word James uses for _________ in verse 14 could refer to any form of desire, good or evil. The word itself is morally neutral. But with few exceptions it is used in the NT to describe evil desires, and that is certainly the case here. Lust is likened to an evil woman here parading her allurements and enticing her victims. Every one of us is tempted. We have vile lusts and impure appetites constantly urging us on in sin. Are we helpless victims then, when we are ___________ our _____________? No, we may expel all thoughts of sin from our mind and concentrate on subjects that are pure and holy (Phil. 4:8). Also in the moment of fierce temptation, we may call on the Lord, remembering that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run to it, and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).


The word lust means any kind of desire, and not necessarily sexual passions. The normal desires of life were given to us by God and, of themselves, are not sinful. Without these desires, we could not function. Unless we felt hunger and thirst, we would never eat and drink, and we would die. Without fatigue, the body would never rest and would eventually wear out. Sex is a normal desire; without it the human race could not continue.


It is when we want to satisfy these desires in ways outside God’s will that we get into trouble. Eating is normal; gluttony is sin. Sleep is normal; laziness is sin. “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).


Some people try to become “spiritual” by denying these normal desires, or by seeking to suppress them; but this only makes them less than human. These fundamental desires of life are the steam in the boiler that makes the machinery go. Turn off the steam and you have no power. Let the steam go its own way and you have destruction. The secret is in constant control. These desires must be our servants and not our masters; and this we can do through Jesus Christ.


Does James take Satan off the hook by placing responsibility for temptation on our desires? No, he does not. We will see later (3:15; 4:7) that the role of Satan was very much in James’s thinking. Likewise, we may be led by our desires, but it is the devil behind the impulse when we are going in an evil direction.


The Devil and our Desires. How does the devil make our desires serve his purposes?

  • He offers suggestions from within our environment and experience. What seems at first glance to be harmless may lead to evil. The person who takes Satan’s suggestions into his mind is fighting on dangerous ground. But the devil can’t entice our mind against our will.

  • He deceives with false advertising. Fame, sex, wealth, and power are presented to us as though they satisfy. But we don’t have to take his suggestions.

  • He singles us out through fear, making us feel as though we are struggling alone. But we are warned to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, NIV).


Knowing that we have these potential weaknesses in our defenses should motivate us to be careful to control our desires. Like a snowball rolling downhill, sin grows more destructive the more we let it have its way. The best time to stop a temptation is before it is too great or moving too fast to control. So we meet the enemy called temptation and discover it is in us. How can we withstand the attacks we know will come?

•    We must continually place ourselves under God’s protection.

•    We must reject the enticement, or temptation by recognizing it as a false promise.

•    We must bring into our life those activities that we know God has provided for our benefit—knowledge of Scripture, fellowship with Christ and other believers, good music, appreciation of all God has made—activities that expand our awareness in life.


15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

16 Do no err, my beloved brethren.


2. There is the conception of lust and the birth of sin. We have moved from the emotions (desire) and the intellect (deception) to the will. James changed the picture from hunting and fishing to the birth of a baby. Desire conceives a method for taking the bait. The will approves and acts; and the result is sin. Whether we feel it or not, we are hooked and trapped. The baby is born, and just wait until it matures!


Christian living is a matter of the will, not the feelings. I often hear believers say, “I don’t feel like reading the Bible.” Or, “I don’t feel like attending prayer meeting.” Children operate on the basis of feeling, but adults operate on the basis of will. They act because it is right, no matter how they feel. This explains why immature Christians easily fall into temptation: they let their feelings make the decisions. The more you exercise your will in saying a decisive no to temptation, the more God will take control of your life. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).


Disobedience gives birth to death, not life. It may take years for the sin to mature, but when it does, the result will be death. If we will only believe God’s Word and see this final tragedy, it will encourage us not to yield to temptation. God has erected this barrier because He loves us. “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” (Ezek. 18:23). Whenever you are faced with temptation, get your eyes off the bait and look ahead to see the consequences of sin: the judgment of God. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).


The above point, point one, is what is called the conception of lust. It is a picture of birth. When a person actually begins to look at and think about the forbidden thing, desire and lust are conceived in his mind. He pictures the pleasure of the desire; that is, sin is actually born. Picturing—looking at or thinking about the desire—is sin. This is exactly what Christ Himself said:

But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:28).


The point to note is this: temptation begins with the normal and natural desires of man and with his thoughts. A person sees, smells, tastes, hears, touches, or thinks about something—something that is forbidden and harmful—and he fails to turn away and flee from it. It may be something as simple as hearing or listening to suggestive music, music about the intimacy of a relationship. Instead of fleeing, the person allows his mind to conceive the thing. He pictures the pleasure and begins to desire or lust after it. Sin in born; the wrong is committed right there in his mind. His heart is set upon the forbidden thing. He may never do the act, but he would if he had the chance and courage. Again, as Christ said:

“But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Mt. 5:28).

“And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful” (Mk. 4:19).

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet” (Ro. 1:26–27).

“For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death” (Ro. 7:5).

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (Ga. 5:16–17).

“Mortify therefore your members [fleshly desires] which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5).

“That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; not in the lust of concupiscence [immorality], even as the Gentiles which know not God” (1 Th. 4:4–5).

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Js. 1:15).

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Js. 4:1–4).

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pe. 2:11).

“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 Jn. 2:16).


Thought 1. The way to overcome temptation is essentially twofold.


1)   If the temptation attacks our thoughts, then we must push the wrong thought out of our mind, and then begin to immediately focus our thoughts upon Christ and some passage of Scripture.

2)   If the temptation comes from some attraction to our senses—seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching—then we must turn our head or body away and flee the temptation. Then immediately we must focus upon Jesus Christ and prayer and review some Scripture passage.


Why then do we sin? Here is the answer: Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. Instead of expelling the vile thought, we may encourage, nourish, and enjoy it. This act of acquiescence is likened to sexual intercourse. Lust conceives and a hideous baby named SIN is born. Which is another way of saying that if we think about a forbidden act long enough, we will eventually do it. The whole process of lust conceiving and bringing forth sin is vividly illustrated in the incident of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:1–27). The steps are all too clear: unchecked lust yields sin, and unconfessed sin brings death.

     Since it begins within, the help we need the most in combating sin is internal. That help comes from God. The best time to stop sin is at the moment we realize the desire is about to become focused, before it has conceived. It takes spiritual growth and consistent dependence on God to know when a desire can be calmly evaluated and when a desire can easily become lustful and controlling. Desires that present themselves to us in expressions that begin with “I have to have,” “I can’t do without,” or even “I would do anything if only I could” are all ripe for conception and birth into sin.


And sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death, says James. Sin is not a barren, sterile thing; it produces a brood of its own. The statement that ____produces ______ may be understood in several ways. First of all, the sin of Adam brought physical death on himself and on all his posterity (Gen. 2:17). But sin also leads to eternal, spiritual death—the final separation of the person from God and from blessing (Rom. 6:23a). There is a sense also in which sin results in death for a believer. For instance, in 1 Timothy 5:6 we read that a believing widow who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. This means that she is wasting her life and utterly failing to fulfill the purpose for which God saved her. To be out of fellowship with God is for a Christian a form of living death.


        Life is given to those who persevere in trials (1:12); death comes to those who allow their desire to run its course. Sin is full-grown when it becomes a fixed habit. Death is referring to spiritual separation from God that comes as the result of sin.

3. There is the result of lust and enticement: death. Man dies physically, spiritually, and eternally because of sin. When

God created man, He did not create man to die. Man has chosen to die, and he dies because of sin. We must remember that there is a penalty for continued sin.

Thought 1. William Barclay has a thought on temptation that should challenge us to turn our total being over to Christ. We have the statements in outline form for emphasis:

         “Now desire is something which can be nourished or stifled. A man can … by the grace of God, eliminate desire if he faces it and deals with it at once. But …

•    he can allow his steps to take him into certain places and certain company.

•    he can encourage his eyes to linger on certain forbidden things.

•    he can spend his life fomenting desire.

•    he can use mind and heart and eyes and feet and lips to nourish desire.


“[However, a man] can so hand himself over to Christ and to the Spirit of Christ that he is cleansed of evil desire. He can be so engaged on good things that there is no time or place left for desire. It is idle hands for which Satan finds mischief to do; and it is an unexercised mind which plays with desire, and an uncommitted heart which is vulnerable to the appeal of lust.

“If a man nourishes and encourages desire long enough, there is an inevitable consequence. Desire becomes action. If a man thinks about anything long enough if he allows himself to _______ it long enough, all the chances are that in the end he will do it. Desire in the heart in the end begets sin in the action” (The Letters of James and Peter. “The Daily Study Bible.” Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press, 1958, p. 61f).


     “Do not err”—the word here means to wander, to roam about, or to stray. It is like the little lost sheep the Lord Jesus told about which the shepherd went out after. James is saying, “Don’t wander. Don’t think that somehow you can get by with sin.” The habitual and perpetual sinner definitely does not have a line of communication with God; he never has been born again. If you can live in sin and enjoy it, you are not a child of God—it’s just that simple.

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