Blame Game Part 1

Flesh on Faith: The Letter of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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When things don’t go as planned with your performance, do you play the “blame game”? When you lose a game, make a critical error or bomb a performance, do you pin the fault on someone else?
How many times have you heard athletes or teammates say, “If my teammate didn’t mess up, we would have won,” “My coach doesn’t like me and doesn’t pay any attention to me in practice,” “If the referee didn’t make that bad call,” or, “My parents put too much pressure on me?”
Novak Djokovic was ranked No. 1 and held the top ranking in the ATP rankings for a total of 223 weeks.
Djokovic seemed unbeatable but something changed after losing in the first round of the Rio Olympic Games and being defeated in the finals at the 2016 U.S. Open…
Djokovic’s performance and consistency started to decline slightly and he lost his No. 1 ranking.
Djokovic had two options:
Take responsibility for his performance dip
Look for someone to blame
Djokovic chose the latter and fired his coach, fitness coach, and physiotherapist despite the fact that this support staff was with him when he won 12 slam titles.
In a statement he issued a contradictory statement about his decision.
DJOKOVIC: “I want to find a way to come back to the top stronger and more resilient… It was not an easy decision, but [my team] felt that we need a change.”
Djokovic’s search should be internal instead of external…
Similarly to Novak Djokovic…how often do we shift the blame to other for our mistakes? When we fall into temptation and sin?
“If he would not have cut me off, I would not have yelled at him.”
“If you were more kind, then I would not be so mean.”
“I am just human, I am not perfect.”
“That person cannot help the way they act…they are just a product of their environment.”
“I could not help it, the devil made me do it.”
Key Point: We should not blame God when we are tempted and fall into sin, but instead we should trust his goodness to give us life through the gospel.
James 1:13–18 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. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

Stop Blaming God for your sin

The first thing James commands us to do is to stop blaming God when we fall into temptation and sin…for we have only ourselves to blame when we sin....look at verse 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.
Explain what makes something a temptation...
Since verse 2, James has been using the word “trials” to describe the tests that God gives us, but now he shifts to use the word “temptations.”
With every trial that we face externally, there will be a temptation that we face internally.
Trials and Temptations are all based on our attitude and response to the test.
Respond rightly to the test (counting it all joy, trusting God’s goodness) = trial is used to strengthen and complete our faith.
Respond wrongly to the test (doubting God’s goodness) = temptation from our desires that can lead to sin and death.
Explain why we should not blame God when we are tempted...
God allows to be tested to strengthen our character…he even may lead us to the place where we can be tempted as the Holy Spirit did with Jesus…however, he never tempts us to evil or lures us into sin.
God is holy, righteous, and good…he cannot play with evil, nor is he even capable of performing evil deeds.
Habakkuk 1:13 “His eyes are too pure to even look on evil or tolerate it.”
Isaiah 6:3 declares that the Lord is Holy three times symbolizing complete and utter holiness.
Deuteronomy 32:4 proclaims the Lord to be a rock, that all his ways are just, a God of faithfulness without iniquity, and that he is just and upright.
God always provides a way of escape when we are tempted (1 Corinthians 10:13) but it is up to us whether we choose to take the escape God provides for us or give into our desire and sin.
God loves us by protecting us IN temptation, not FROM temptation.
So if God is not to blame for our temptation and sin…who is?
Look at verse 14…
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Explain why we only have ourselves to blame when we are tempted
There are three things that seek to tempt us to sin…The Devil, the world, and our own desires.
James specifically highlights our desires, not because temptations from the Devil and the world are not real…but because out of the those three, our desires are the only one we can have control over.
“Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before.” -John Owen
Nothing corrupts us from the outside…but what corrupts us comes from within.
“Desire does not necessarily equate with lust…or something evil, although that is one common translation for this word. Rather, it refers to any intense longing for an improper object, that is, anything that gets in the way of our pursuit of God.” -Craig Bloomburg
For example...
The desire of hunger is not a bad desire, but it can lead to gluttony.
The desire to sleep is not a bad desire, but it can lead to laziness.
The sexual desire for the opposite sex is not a bad desire, but it can lead to immorality.
James says our desires lure and entice us to doubt God.
Think about the example of fishing when you bait the fish with the hook....
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Explain how desire turns into sin and when sin is fully grown (perfected) results in death.
It does not become sin until we act on our desire
Think about Eve’s progression in the garden.
Progression: Deception (lie)…Desire....Disobedience…Death
Sin will lead to death.
What desires do you have that can get in the way of your pursuing the Lord? What desires are enticing you to doubt God and fall into sin?
It is important to identify these desires and cut them off at the root, because if we don’t…they will lead to sin…and ultimately to death.
So what can we do to prevent ourselves from falling into temptation? James gives us the answer in verses 16-18...

Trust God’s goodness to give you life through the gospel

Do not be deceived my beloved brothers, every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of lights…
Do not let your heart deceive you (Jeremiah 17:9).
Why??? Because God is good and every good and perfect gift comes from him.
God only gives good gifts to his children
Matthew 7:11
James lays out three truths of God’s goodness:
1. God’s Goodness is unchanging
Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change
God does not change like the variation of the day to night or the shifting shadows caused by the sun or moon.
He is immutable…which means God is unchanging in his being, perfections, purposes and promises.
Psalm 102:25-27- “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”
2. God’s Goodness is undeserved
Of His own will he brought us forth by the word of truth
God freely chose to save us
“Becoming a Christian is not just a moral decision or “turning over a new leaf.” It is a radical change of one’s heart-a gift of new spiritual life where there was once only death. God is the giver of life, both physical and spiritual.” -Greg Gilbert
The word of truth is the gospel (Ephesians 1:13).
3. God’s Goodness is unending
We are the Firstfruits of his creatures
David Platt says, “The picture of firstfruits carries the idea of a foretaste of that which is to come. What God has done in our lives to change our hearts by his goodness is only a preview of the day to come when He will make all things new in all creation. And the work He has done in our new birth will one day lead to a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no more trials and no more temptations.”
So, to summarize, we should not blame God when we are tempted and fall into sin…for that is our own fault as it is a result of our own desires…but instead we should trust in God’s goodness to give us life through the gospel.

What Are We Going To Do With This Text?

Ultimately, James says that if we do not deal with our desires, they will entice us into sin, and if sin is not dealt with…it will lead to death.
Therefore, we must kill sin before it kills us.
We must take the initiative when it comes to temptation and sin...we cannot just play defense…but we must always be on the offensive to have the upper hand.
So how are we to kill sin and take the initiative before it kills us?
We must own up to our sin and identify the problem
Once we have identified the problem, we must then allow the truths of the gospel to kill evil desires and give us godly desires.
Now, because resisting and fighting against temptation is such big deal, I want to go into detail of how we can live out these two points next week.
So make sure to not miss part 2 of this sermon next week.
But as we close tonight, I want reconvene on what James closed this section of Scripture on…the fact that God has freely chosen to bring us to life through the word of truth…through the gospel.
It is through hearing the gospel that we can have the faith to trust in Christ…and it is through believing the truths of the gospel that we can reject the lies of the devil, the world, and our desires.
The gospel is what stops that progression of sin to take place…to not allow sin to become fully grown…which will produce death.
But if you do not have this gospel…you will not be able to defeat the lies of the enemy.
If you do not have this gospel, you will not be able to prevent sin from overtaking you…and the result will be death.
Do you have this gospel? Have you truly repented of your sin and trusted in Christ?
Are you still trusting in this gospel…preaching it to yourself each day to overcome temptation?
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