12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord 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 by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
Examine / Explain
God’s grace benefits a man who can endure life when life seems unendurable. Through the trial, he is facing the innermost of a man drawn out to the surface. At the surface level, he may want to say God is tempting me through this trial, but that is not true. If we have God as the Holy Spirit living in us, whom no one can tempt, how can he tempt Himself with evil when there is no evil inside Him? No, we are drawn to evil. We are lured by our propensity to sin. Once we commit to the temptation, we are sinning against God. In the sinning, we find death, which is separation from God. We must not fool ourselves. God is the giver of good and perfection. There is no falsehood anywhere in Him. He is the source of light, and as the source, He does not have shadows. In this light and perfection, He has gifted us with salvation. We are his creatures to experience salvation to the fullest. We are to be with Him for eternity, but we must endure.
How do I apply this to my life?
As I am refined, what is drawn to the surface? The dross? Are all the impurities being exposed so that they can be scraped away? What is left? Is it a refined man with a heart of the Most High? Do I give in to the temptations? Do I allow any area of my heart to fall into sin? Falling sounds involuntary! We step into the sin. We choose to ignore God’s escape from our sin, and we choose death. We fool ourselves into thinking that it’s not that bad. Am I really sinning here? Yes! Because it is a matter of the heart! Our hearts look for ways to be our gods, that temptation to let our pride drive our ambitions. The temptations to be passive when we should be pursuing Godly relationships with those around us. Especially our spouse and children. The temptation to turn to our coping mechanism instead of our savior, Jesus. Our idols will not save us. The perseverance still pursues Christ even when we don’t “feel” like it. To persevere, we consciously kill our pride and enter every situation, seeking His leading. Perseverance is taking our cross daily and following Jesus even to the point of death. And in that death, we find the crown of life! We find eternity with our creator. We have found the perfect gift of salvation.
What is my response?
Father, within my weakness for sexual immorality, I must live in a state of constant defense because of our culture. I don’t know about any other country, but America has a massive bend toward sexual sin, which shows everywhere. We live in a culture where the most significant business is porn. It makes more money as a whole than combinations of professional sports. And I live in it. The areas of temptation where I must constantly find my strength from you are in front of me. It seems that every ad, every TV show, billboard, any avenue that promotes utilizes sex to sell. I must guard my heart. I must take every thought captive. I must do it every day. Lord, I want to hear “Well done” when I stand before You one day. I want to know that I did everything possible to reach those who need You. I fear that I have not opened my mouth enough in my passivity. The sin of apathy has me cornered and incapable of speaking out. Some might say that posting these to the world is counter to that. But this is to the world. How do I speak the truth to those who are my actual neighbors? My family, friends, and co-workers. The temptation is to do nothing. The sin is acting on it! I need help not to do “nothing.” I want to have faith and keep hustling!