James 1:2-8 - Temptations and trials, the Basic Facts

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the path of life is not an easy path to walk.  Life is filled with all kinds of trials and temptations.  You have probably heard the saying, “when life gives you a lemon, make lemonade!”  Throughout the Bible there are people who have turned:

Defeat into victory

Trial into triumph

They were, Victors instead of victims – temptation on the outside (1:1-12) \ inside (1:13-27).  Do you want to turn your trials into triumphs?  Then we must obey four imperatives:

count    (1:2)                 -a joyful attitude

know    (1:3)                -an understanding mind

let         (1:4, 9-11)        -a surrendered will

ask       (1:5-8)              -a heart that wants to believe


B.                The Fact: We Will Have Many Trials and Temptations (v.2).

1.                  When you encounter various trials (v.2).

a)                  God tells us to expect trials.

(1)                 It is not as “if you fall into various trials” but “when you fall into various trials”

Jesus warned His disciples “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NKJV)

Paul told his converts that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.”

Peter emphasized this in his first letter “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; (1 Peter 4:12 NKJV)

(2)                 Definition of trials – temptations To try; to test; to prove

b)                  God allows temptations and trials for a purpose.

(1)                 To make us stronger and much more pure and righteous
(a)                 Sandpaper (how it works): It's the friction that smoothes out the rough edges
(b)                Oyster (how it works): A grain of sand (acts an irritant) until it forms a beautiful Pearl!!!
(c)                 Melting of metal            (how it works): By conquering them we become much more like Christ

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV)

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, (2 Corinthians 4:17 NKJV)

C.                The Needed Attitude (v.2-4).

1.                  God tells us to count – a joyful attitude.

a)                  Count it all joy (v.2a).

(1)                 It means “to evaluate” When we become Christians we must evaluate our life and set new goals (Philippians 3:13-14)
(2)                 We must evaluate the trials of life in the light of what God is doing for us, & live for the things that matter the most.  What matter the most to you?

b)                  Our values determine our evaluations.

(1)                 If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us.
(2)                 If we value the material more than the spiritual, then we will not be able to “count it all joy.”
(3)                 If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better.

Job had the right attitude and outlook, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, (not if, but when) I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10 NKJV)

2.                  God tells us to know something – an understanding mind.

a)                  Knowing the testing of your faith produces patience (v.3a).

(1)                 Faith is always tested.  The testing of your faith produces patience “patience” means, “to be steadfast, more persevering, more enduring.  God tested Abraham in order to increase his faith
(2)                 1 Peter 1:6-7 - Testing works for us not against us. 
(a)                 Satan tempts us to bring out the worst – He roams around. Seeking whom he may devour (1P5:8)
(b)                God tests us to bring out the best (Romans 8:28 cf. 1 Peter 1:7).
(c)                 Its our choice in which way we respond (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
(c)Most of us ask the Lord to change the circumstances God does not want to change the circumstances, He wants to change you.

3.                  God tells us to let something happen – a surrendered will (v.4).

a)                  Let endurance have its perfect work.

(1)                 What does God want to produce in our lives?  Patience, endurance, and the ability to keep going when things get tough!
(2)                 Romans 5:3-5 –
(a)                 “patience” does not mean “to just put up with the trials or circumstances”
(b)                “patience” means “to persevere and keep on persevering, never giving in”, “to take the initiative and to exert the energy and effort to conquer”, “to gain the victory and to triumph over the trial and temptation”
(3)                 God wants us to grow up.
(a)                 Illustration of Brittany not growing up
(b)                God want’s our cooperation – (Philippians 2:12-13)
(c)                 If we resist Him, then He chastens us into submission
(d)                If we submit to Him, then He can accomplish His work.
(4)                 Ephesians 2:8-10         
(a)                 God’s work for us – salvation “saved by grace”
(b)                God’s work in us – sanctification “For we are His workmanship”
(c)                 God’s work through us – service “created in Christ Jesus for works”
(d)                When we look at trials and temptations as opportunities, then and only then will we begin to face them with joy, “the joy of the Lord!”
(e)                 Endurance cannot be attained by reading of book or even listening to me, but by going through the difficulties in life.  Jonah is an illustration of this.

Do you ever feel life you are the only one who has ever gone through this?               

Do you ever feel like there is no escape for you when you are tempted?1 Corinthians 10:13 cf. James 1:12                            


D.                The Result: Makes us Perfect & Entire: v.4

1.     Perfect: When a person stands against trial and temptations and conquers them…

  1. He perfects the purpose of God intended TO BECOME MORE LIKE JESUS -- this does not mean we become a perfect human being.
  2. He perfects his task and purpose for being on earth a little bit more.
  3. Perfect means, “perfection of purpose,” an end, and aim, a goal, a purpose.

2.     Complete: A person becomes more and more complete in all parts

  1. You will become wholly fit, entire, perfectly sound, complete with no weaknesses, flaws, defects, or shortcomings.
  2. Day by day – trial by trial and temptation by temptation, when we persevere under the circumstances, we become more like Jesus Christ. 

3.     Lacking nothing: the person who lacks nothing wants nothing.

  1. You will have all the abundance and the fullness of life.

D.  The Way to Conquer Trials and Temptations: 1:5-12



1.       No pain no gain.  Athletes remind themselves of this to get their best possible results and performance.

2.       Sometimes they have to go through grueling training, without it; there is no improvement.

3.       James suggests it is the same for Christians


1.      QUESTION #1?  “Getting in shape is simple.  Just eat right and exercise regularly.” Why do you find this easier said than done?

1.      There is always the temptation of eating what we should not eat

2.      To exercise there must be a determination and goal in mind, aim, and endurance.



A.     The Essential Attitude to Trials and Temptation: Joy, 1:2-4

(1:2-4)   Introduction: the path of life is not an easy path to walk (1:2-4)

1.       The fact: we will have many trials and temptations (v.2)

2.       The needed attitude: joy (v.2-4)

3.       The result: makes us perfect and entire (v.4)

(1:2)      Trials – Temptations: the facts is certain – we will have many trial and temptations

1.       The temptations and trials of life are to prove us

  1. To test, to try, to prove

2.       They are permitted by God for  a purpose

  1. To make us stronger and more pure

1)       When we conquer temptation, we become a much more pure person – holy, righteous, and just

2)       When we triumphantly go through the trials of life, we become a much stronger person – more steadfast, enduring, and persevering.

3)       We also become a dynamic witness to all those who see us – we demonstrate the living presence and power of Christ – that He actually does live in our hearts and lives and is going to give us eternal life.

4)       We also become more like Christ and make Christ much more fully known to the world.

5)  2 Cor. 3:18; 4:17; Heb. 12:11; James 5:11; 1 Peter 3:14-15; 4:14; Rev. 7:14; Job 23:10

QUESTION #2?  Why does it seem strange that we should “count it all joy when we fall into various trials”?

1.      Acts 12:6 – Peter was sleeping?  How could he do this?

QUESTION #3?  How are maturity and perseverance developed in us by enduring trials (v.3-4)?  

(1:2-4)   Trials – Temptation – Joy: the attitude needed to face the trials and temptations of life is startling – it is joy. 

1.       We must count (v.2)

  1. Count it all joy
  2. It means “to evaluate”
  3. When we become Christians we must evaluate our life and set new goals (Philippians 3:13-14)
  4. We must evaluate the trials of life in the light of what God is doing for us, & live for the things that matters the most.  What matters the most to you?

2.       We must know (v.3)

  1. Knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience
  2. Remember the trials and temptations are not to defeat and discourage us, but to prove us, to make us much stronger and more pure and righteous.
  3. We must know that if we respond in the proper way the trial and temptations will make us like Jesus.

3.       We must let (v.4)

  1. But let patience have its perfect work
  2. We must persevere and keep on persevering, never giving in.
  3. We must take the initiative and to exert the energy and effort to conquer and to gain the victory and to triumph over the trial and temptation
  4. We must look at trial and temptations as opportunities to grow more like Christ.

4.       1 Corinthians 10:13 . . .Hebrews 2:18 . . .James 1:2-3 . . .James 1:12 . . .1 Peter 5:8 . . .2 Peter 2:9 . .

2 Peter 3:17 . . .Revelation 3:10 . . .Proverbs 1:10; 4:14 . . .Romans 6:13 . . .Ephesians 6:13 . . .

(1:4) Trials – Temptations – Endurance: the results of facing trials and temptation can be wonderful.

1.       A person become more perfect – perfection or purpose

  1. It has to do with an end, and aim, a goal, a purpose
  2. It means fit, mature, fully-grown at a particular stage of growth.

1)       Illustration: a fully-grown child is a perfect child; he has reached his childhood and achieved the purpose of childhood.

2)       It does not mean perfection of character, that is, being without sin

This means at least two things:

1.                   When a person stands against trials and temptations and conquers them . . .

—       He perfects the purpose of God intended, that is he becomes more stronger and pure, like Jesus.

—       He perfects his task and purpose for being on this earth.

2.                A person becomes more and more complete in all parts

—       He becomes more entire, more fit, more sound, and more complete

—       He also eliminates more weaknesses, flaws, defects, and shortcomings

3.                A person lacks nothing.  He wants for nothing.  He has all the abundance and fullness of life

4.                The believer is conformed to the perfection of Jesus Christ.

5.                Romans 16:20 . . . Matthew . . . 5:48 . . . Luke. 21:19 . . . Romans 12:12 . . . 2 Cor. 3:11 . . . Eph. 4:12-13 . . . James 1:4; 3:2; 5:7 . . .Philippians 3:12 . . .Colossians 1:28 . . .Hebrews 6:1 . . .Hebrews 10:36  . . .

B.    The Way to Conquer Trials and Temptation, 1:5-12

(1:5-12) Introduction: trials and temptations are common to us all.  We all suffer trials and temptations as…

—    Pain                  death                            hurt

—    Lust                  sickness                       greed

—    Disease                        separation                     accidents

—    Divorce             disappointments           anger

—    Loss                 immorality                     loneliness

—    Cheating                       emptiness                     lying


1.      What is the worst trial that you face – right now?

2.      What is the worst temptation – the temptation that just swarms in upon you and overcomes you and leads you into sin?

3.      Is there any escape?  This is the subject of this passage: the way to conquer trials and temptations.

  1. Ask God for wisdom (v.5-8).
  2. Rejoice in ones status (v.9-11).
  3. Remember the reward for enduring: a crown of life (v.12).



1.      God knows all things, we don’t!  Therefore, we come to Him asking Him for wisdom



1.      We need wisdom so we will not waste the opportunities God is giving us to mature.

2.      If God delivered us from every trial, then we would not grow in character

3.      God is more concerned with you character than your comfort





(1:5-8) Temptation – Wisdom: How can a believer conquer trials and temptations?

1.      Ask God for wisdom (v.5).

  1. Wisdom means far more that just knowledge, or being intellectual about life.
  2. Knowledge is grasping the facts, and most people in life have a head full of facts.
  3. Millions and millions of people are knowledgeable and full of facts.

1)       But when coping with the trials and temptations of life, something more than a head full of facts are needed.

a)       It is not only seeing and knowing about life, not only seeing and knowing the truth.

b)      It is seeing and knowing what to do about life, and seeing and knowing what to do with the truth. 

c)       It not only understands the trials and temptations, but wisdom understands what to do with them and how to do it, and does it

d)      Wisdom acts, conquers and gains the victory over trials and temptations.

e)       James 1:22 cf. Matthew 7:21-28


  1. Asking God for wisdom is the way to conquer the trials and temptations of life

1)       Note the wonderful promises made to us when we ask God for wisdom.

—    God will give us wisdom

—    God will give us a liberal amount

—    God will not reproach or rebuke us for not knowing how to handle the trial or temptation.

God will not even question us for lacking wisdom and for not knowing what to do.

—    God loves us: we are His sons and daughters—He is our Father.

Therefore, God will give us the wisdom to conquer the trials.

—  James 1:5; 3:17; Proverbs 3:13-14; 8:11; Job 28:28

1.      We must ask in faith, never wavering.  WHY?

  1. Wavering receives nothing.

1)       We cannot ask and then wonder if…

—    God really exists

—    God is really going to hear

—    God can really do what we ask

  1. We must believe that…

1)       God is who He says He is.

2)       He exists and that He does love and care for us.

3)       He will hear and answer us when we ask for wisdom

c.    Wavering shows instability.

1)       He is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.

2)       That person shall not receive anything from the Lord.

3)       He is double-minded, unstable in all his ways

a)       he is not sure; he is uncertain

b)      he feels yes and then he feels no

c)       he begins and then backs up, then begins again

d)      he believes and then he disbelieves

e)       he is unstable in his prayer and life with God


Think about this:

1.                              This is the very reason so many of us receive so little from God, we either…

  1. do not ask or else
  2. we ask doubting God

2.                              We must ask God for wisdom and believe that God will hear and show us the way and the power to conquer.

Matthew 13:58 -- Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

James 4:8 – Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Proverbs 4:5 -- Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words    of my      mouth.

Proverbs 4:6 -- Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; Love her, and she will keep you.


QUESTION # 4?  In the context of trials and perseverance, why does James contrast rich and poor Christians?


(1:9-11) Temptation – Life, Lot in Life, Status in:

2.      Rejoice In One’s Status

  1. The poor: Christ exalts

1)       the believer of lowly status is to rejoice in the Lord

a)       this does not mean to rejoice because he is poor, unhealthy or crippled

b)      this does mean that he rejoices that Christ loves him, had saved him, and has promised to exalt him as a king and prince throughout all eternity

Application: if God has allowed us to be poor we must not allow this to…

—    destroy our joy

—    have us become bitter against those who have more. 

  1. The rich: Christ humbles

1)       the believer of high status is to rejoice in that he is made low by God. WHY?

  1. A danger: false security
  2. The body of the rich ages and dies
  3. The pursuits of the rich fade away


(1:12) Temptations – Trials: how can a believer conquer trials and temptations?

3.      Remember The Reward For Enduring: A Crown of Life

  1. The person who endures temptations shall be “blessed” (makapios). 

1)       This refers to this life, to the here and now.

2)       Blessed means “inward and spiritual joy and satisfaction”

3)       An inner assurance and confidence that carries one through all the trials and temptations of life. 

4)       He knows that God is looking after and caring for him and is going to deliver him from all the corruption and evil of this life including death, and give him eternal life.

     “He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. (Luke 6:48 NKJV)

     Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord----that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful. (James 5:11 NKJV)


  1. The person shall receive a crown of life in the next world. 

1)       What is the crown of life? 

2)       In the Greek this is called “the gentive of opposition”; that is, life itself is the crown. 

a)       The believer who endures the temptations of life shall be crowned with life itself.

b)      The eternal life that will be given to the believer will shine more brightly that all the earthly crowns that have ever been worn by the rulers of this world.

Thought 1.        Just imagine the actual moment when Christ will crown us with the crown of life

     “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.  “In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (John 14:1-2 NKJV cf. 2 Cor. 4:17; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Pet. 4:12-13; 1 Jn 2:25)


  1. The person who endures trails and temptations is the person who will be blessed and receive the crown of life.

1)       Endurance is an absolute essential, we must…

—    Endure, persevere, be steadfast, standing the test.

2)       This is important because we a prone to deceive ourselves.

a)       If you are a hearer of the Word only, your deceiving yourself (James 1:22).

b)      It is important that your faith be tested and that you endure; so that I am not under a false sense of security.

c)       I must know where I am in my spiritual walk with the Lord, and this can only take place under trial and temptations.

3)       God allows the temptations, the testings to come in order that I might know the truth about myself.

a)       God said to the Children of Israel, Deuteronomy 8:2  “And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.

b)      Not that God would see what was in their heart. He already knew it all but they didn't, and so He tested them so they could see.

c)       “For the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.” It is deceitful and we are guilty so often of deceiving ourselves.

d)      “Be not deceived,” Paul said. This tempting is actually testing and is a way to learn the truth about ourselves. Truth comes out in the time of trial. When everything is going great, when everything is running smoothly, I don't know the truth about myself.

(1) The Parable of the Four soils (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23; (4>19) (5-6>20-21) (7>22) (8>23))           


e)       It’s a rough road, but there is a big reward for those who endure the trials and temptations!

(Matt.10:22; 1 Cor. 15:58; Gal.6:9; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:13; 2:19; Rev. 3:11; Ps. 17:3)


  1. The person who loves the Lord is the person who endures.

—    “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:21 NKJV)

1)       He is a person who is faithful to the Lord.

2)       He follows, and obeys the Lord, doing all that the Lord commands him.

—    “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love…. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. (John 15:10-14 NKJV).

3)       He follows Christ, obeying His commandments, enduring all the trials and temptations of this life.

—    “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10 NKJV)

—    And so this glorious crown of life, that eternal life that we have through Jesus Christ, the Lord promises this to anyone who loves Him and is faithful, that is, those who respond with faith and in the Spirit to the challenges of life. v.12


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