James 4:7-10 - “The Way To Overcome Temptation

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A.       Let us Deal With The Cause (temptation) not the Result (sin)

1.      We must get rid of the spider (cause) – when the spider is gone then the web will no longer be there.

2.      Every sin is preceded by temptation

3.      The cause or source of  temptation is our own desires – James 1:14

a.       Lured, bait, fascinated, appeals to our senses, captivated, then trapped

4.      Another source is the world – 1John 2:15

a.       The world lies under control of Satan – 1John 5:19

b.      The Christian is to reckon he has been crucified with regard to the world – Galatians 6:14

5.      The enslaving power of sin can and must be broken in the life of the believer – 1John 3:8

6.      It is God’s will that we must learn to control our bodies – 1Thessalonians 4:1-8

7.      Present our bodies to God as slaves of righteousness

—    I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:19 NKJV)

8.      The result of  sin, is death – James 1:15; Romans 6:23

But we there is good news!   The victory has been won at the cross and our Great God has given us instruction in His word on how to overcome and defeat temptation in our lives

There are, I believe, 5 steps involved.

#1 Understanding Proper Doctrine

#2 Submitting & resisting

#3 Drawing near & repenting

#4 Mourning over your sin

#5 Humbling Yourself

I.                   #1 The importance of understanding proper doctrine.   

A.       Freedom from sin relates to understanding the truth. 

We find this spelled out in Romans chapter 6 and we will start at verse 17 where Paul says…

Romans 6:17-18—But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

a.       Now its important for you to understand that phrase there is verse 17 that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  That word “form” there means “a mold” so you were placed into a “certain mold” and that doctrine “molded” your life. And that’s why it’s important and imperative that you understand proper Christian doctrine because “whatever you believe that is the way you are going to act.”

1)      If you believe there is no freedom from sin then you are going to allow sin to dominate you life, control you and experience the effects of that.

2)      But if you read the Scriptures that says that you’ve been set free from sin and its power, then your going to expect to be living that sort of way. 

3)      Paul says this group of people obeyed from the heart that mold of doctrine, they let the doctrine form their life and they took the truth from what the Word of God says rather than their mind, their experience or even what other Christians were experiencing. 

b.      If you’re going to be delivered from sin you have to understand the truth.

1)      I believe that’s why my confidence is in the power of the Word of God to set you free.  Not in any insight I would have or some sort of story or some sort of charisma to encourage you, but you would understand the truth and that truth would break the power of sin over your life.

2)      This is what Jesus said in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.   “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

3)      Then in verse 36 He says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

4)      And so there is freedom and victory in Jesus Christ over sin but it takes you understanding the right doctrine so it can mold your life and transform you life so that you can experience the freedom and the liberty that the Lord has for you.


c.       That form of doctrine says “to which” literally means, “into which”

1)      So there’s this form “into which” your life is being poured into. 

2)      Hopefully I am teaching you accurately from the Word of God, I am going to labor to do that, to study, to rightly divide the Word of truth and so as your hearing these truth’s your life is actually forming around the things that I have been teaching you.  And so that puts a lot of responsibility on me to teach you accurately, properly and be able to hear what the Lord’s trying to do.

3)      So I cant be teaching my own desires my own things that I like in the Bible but what is God trying to speak to the youth so that, that truth can come and mold this body in a way that is pleasing to Him.

d.      Luke 6:40 says,  “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.

1)      That means, whoever your listening to, whatever doctrine your letting someone form your life into, your going to become like that truth which is being presented to you.

2)                              This is why you need to be careful your not listening to someone who has half a truth, or part of the truth. Because whatever you give yourself to over and over and over again that’s the sort of Christian or disciple that you’re going to become.   

II.                Submitting to God – Resisting the Devil (4:7)

A.       Who Are You Going To Surrender To?

This verse reveals the two actions which will bring victory to the believer. 


#1a Submitting to God & Resisting the Devil

Both are required they go hand-in-hand

You cannot do one without the other

–        You cannot submit to God & indulge in the temptation

–        Or you cannot resist the Devil without submitting to God, for you need His power to overcome

–        We must do both

–        Illustration of going to a doctor & taking medicine is submitting to the doctor


Submit – “to line up under”

1.      Military term - was used of soldiers under the authority of their commander.  Who is our commander to whom we are to “line up under?”

2.      Used in the Scriptures

a.       Jesus’ submission to His parents authority Luke 2:51

This is the response of children toward their parents Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20

b.      To God the Father of spirits by the believers Hebrews 12:9; James 4:7

c.       Submission to human government Romans 13:1

d.      The Church’s submission to Christ Ephesians 5:24

e.       In relation to those ministering 1Corinthians 16:15,16

f.       Servants submission to their master Titus2:9; 1 Peter 2:18

g.      In relation to the older by the younger 1Peter 5:5

3.      Here it is used to describe a conscience willing submission to God who is all authority

a.       To yield to Him, to His command & instructions in His Word

b.      To surrender ourselves to Him so He can strengthen us

4.      This reminds me of Jesus in the Garden, who did the will of the Father

a.       He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39 NKJV)

#1b Resisting the Devil


Resist“Take your stand against,” to exert the energy & effort to defeat the enemy & his temptations

Every human being on the face of this earth is either giving allegiance to God or Satan, there is no in-between Luke 11:23; Revelation 3:15-16 cf. John 8:44; Ephesians 2:2; 1 John 3:8; 5:19

Satan temps us but the believer is to have victory. 

A.       How do I resist?

1.      James 1:2-5 – Count, know, let, & ask

2.      By asking God and praying – Matthew 6:13

3.      By forgiving others 2Corinthians 2:10-11 – Closes off Satan’s advantage-the crack in the mountain

4.      By not giving place to the Devil barnacles of bitterness attached to my heart– Ephesians 4:27

5.      By repenting & acknowledging the truth – 2Timothy 2:25-26

6.      By knowing God’s Word \ quoting Scripture – Matthew 4:1-11 cf.

7.      By resisting the Devil – James 4:7 cf. 1Peter 5:8-9; 1Peter 2:23 cf. Ps. 37:5

8.      By recognizing you are in a spiritual battle – 2Corinthians 10:3-5

9.      Being strong in the Lord not yourself – Ephesians 6:10 cf. Zech. 4:6

10.  Putting on the whole armor of God – Ephesians 6:11 illustration of not having football helmet on.

B.       The result of resisting the Devil is that he will flee (4:7)

1.      Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.   Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9 NKJV)

III.             Draw Near To God & Repent of Your Sin (4:8-9)

A.       Draw near to God and he will draw near to you (4:8)

1.      How do we draw near to God

2.      By prayer – ask God for strength, power, mercy and grace.

Note: drawing near to God is conditional!

The Psalmist asked, Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?   He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalms 24:3-4 NKJV)

1.      Cleanse your hands you sinners –The person must have clean hands (4:8)

a.       O.T. Priest had to ceremonially wash their hands before approaching God (Ex. 30:10-20)

b.      Our hands must be clean of sin before we approach God


—    “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, (Isaiah 1:16 NKJV)

—    Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1 NKJV)

c.       This will lead to being a vessel for honor—2Timothy 2:21

2.      Purify your hearts you double minded (4:8)

a.       Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

b.      God does not allow divided loyalty, He wants all of your heart committed to Him only Matthew 4:10

c.       The hands were external cleansing

d.      The heart was internal cleansing

1)      Thoughts

2)      Motives

3)      Desires of the heart

4)      Psalm 24:3,4; Jeremiah 4:4; Ezekiel 18:31; 36:25-26; 1Timothy 1:5; 2Timothy 2:22; 1Peter 1:22

Double minded

1.      This person is two-faced, trying to look to God & also the world (cf.1:5-8)

2.      This person is guilty of spiritual adultery James 4:4  


1.      Our love for God determines our relationship with Him

2.      Believers are called to purify themselves 1John 3:3

3.      And to pursue after a love relationship with the Lord Philippians 3:10

IV.             Mourning Over Your Sin (v.9)

Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. (James 4:9 NKJV)


Lament – be afflicted, wretched, miserable

1.      This is the condition of those who are truly broken over their sin

2.      Paul said this in Romans 7:24 - O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Mourn –

1.      This is a call to Godly sorrow which leads to repentance – 2Corinthians 7:9-10

—    Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.   For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.  

2.      Matthew 5:4 - Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

a.       This is mourning over our sin

b.      James urged these people to give evidence of repentance 2 Corinthians 7:9-11

c.       This kind of sorrow is Godly sorrow which produces repentance unto salvation

1)      Judas Iscariot Matthew 27:3

2)      Peter Matthew 26:75

3)      God will not turn away a broken and a contrite heart Psalm 51:17

(a) mourning is the inner response to such brokeness

d.      This is produced by the Holy Spirit 2Timothy 2:25 cf. Acts 11:18

1) true repentance is produced by God’s sovereign grace (Ephesians 2:7)

e.       Unbelievers repent of their sin initially when they are saved

f.       Then as believers, repentance is continual to keep joy and blessing of their relationship with God 1John 1:7-9.

Weep – the outward manifestation of inner sorrow over sin Mark 14:72

Warning Luke 6:25

Laughter – flippant laughter; of those foolishly indulging in worldly pleasures

1.      These people give no thought of God, death, sin, judgment, or holiness.

2.      Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep.

3.      James calls these people to mourn over their sin: Hanging down of the eyes like the publican in Matthew 18:13-14

V.                Humbling Yourself (v.10)

     Illustration of a lifeguard having to knock out a drowning person with his fist.  Why?  The drowning person was struggling and he could not save him until he gave up!  In the same way we must give up everything unto the Lord.

9 Humble – to make oneself low

The Way Up is Down


For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist," Says the LORD. "But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. (Isaiah 66:2 NKJV)

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit. (Psalms 34:18 NKJV)

1.      If we don’t humble ourselves God will

2.      He did this to king Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:30-31,37

3.      Jesus said "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

4.      Luke 18:9-14

5.      People who draw honor to themselves are not humble

6.      The world honors a man who is aggressive and self-seeking (WWF)

7.      God honors a man who is humble

8.      We can do good works which bring glory to God or ourselves Matthew 5:12

9.      The ultimate example is Philippians 2:5ff.

The point is this: when a person is tempted, if he humbles himself before God, God will lift him up, and meet his need, give him whatever he needs to deliver him from the onslaught of temptation.

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