UCAN sharing: Enticed
Scripture: James 1:13-15, 4:6-10
For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; Prov. 2:6
Entice: to persuade someone to do something by offering them something pleasant (Cambridge dictionary)
Every fisherman knows that to catch fish you must have the right bait. Without the right bait you can’t attracted the fish to bite. In a very real way in our Christian life we too have this battle within as to whether to take the baits that are presented before us or not. Our carnal nature has desires that God wants us to let go of through repentance but in the meantime and if we resist the Lord we can fall prey to our enemy who wanders around looking for anyone not strong in the Lord so that he can present our desires in such a way as to excite us and heighten our desire till we act. It is in accepting the lie that we sin because at that moment we embrace the death behind the bait and we are caught. But God knew this before he even created us so he has prepared a way through Christ for us to overcome if we are willing and make the effort we can avoid being enticed.
From the beginning of man his battle has always been with himself. Today many ideas point away from this truth and as a result people are quick to accept ideas that shifts the blame to something else. But when we fail to understand our role in spiritual matters it is impossible to find truth and walk in it. This means that for many Christians who are not diligent in pursuing God their walk with Christ will be one without power and tending to be constantly bound up in sin. We are continually falling in the traps set before us. Man because of his nature looks to put blame elsewhere rather than admit he is fallen. Today the idea of sin and its need for repentance is not a popular one. Many churches prefer to skip this topic and preach blessings and the good nature of God but this is half-truth which is no truth.
When we want to pass the blame we need to find an object to put the blame on. Often we try to put the blame on the enemy or God as if they have control over what we do. Flip Wilson, a 70’s comedian, coined the expression for one of his character’s bad behavior “The devil made me do it.” Implying that a person has no control over what sin they do but is force to do it. Man is quick to receive this lie as it offers him freedom from being responsible for sin. But if we examine the word of God we can see that the enemy is a defeated foe who must seek permission from God to act (Job 1:8-12) so he is not able to force us to sin. God on the other hand is holy and is never tempted. We should think about this. So he never tempts or leads to sin but calls us to holiness. Jesus while he lived on earth experienced all the temptations we do but he never sinned (Heb. 4:15). The blame for our own sin lies within us.
The blame for sinning falls squarely on ourselves therefore we are the channel for evil in the world. The sooner a person embraces this truth the sooner they can begin drawing nearer to God. By seeing that it is our fallen nature that empowers sin we experience humility and the revelation of our need for a savior. Without these things a person can’t fully come before the Lord because sin and the consequence of sin lies between them and God. Some Christians have a lot of knowledge but lack heart for God so they are always far from Him and are vulnerable to being tempted. No real victory over sin or the flesh is possible.
When it comes to dealing with temptation man finds himself in between God and the enemy. In cartoons of old this was often portrayed by having a white little angel on one’s shoulder speaking goodness and a little devil in red with a pitch fork by the other ear speaking unrighteousness. While this is overly simplified it has some truth to it. There are three voices at work in our lives, God’s, ours and the enemy’s. God’s works to lead man to righteousness but ours and the enemy’s work to lead man to unrighteousness or sin. Understanding how this works helps us to see the traps set by the enemy and thus choose to avoid them or not but it also highlights our role in the sin process. Once the desire is gone sin has no hold on us so allowing God to take our sins by repentance is vital. No Christian can say that they are helpless and unable to stop sinning because God has made a way if we are willing.
The process of sin is clear. The key is understanding the ingredients and how they work together against us. We have desires in our hearts that are carnal. Matt. 15:18-19 says that it is the things that comes out of our hearts and thus our mouths that make us unclean. Our hearts without God are filled with all forms of evil desires. The enemy knows this and is cunning. The idea is to come at us in a way that excites us and makes us want to believe a lie. He will not approach us directly with evil for he knows Christians will be convicted. Instead he uses what we desire making it seem right and pleasant. This creates in us a powerful attractive force. The word entice is just like the bait a fisherman uses. It tries to present a thing that really appeals to us so much so that we abandon truth to receive the lie and reach out for it. At the moment we accept the lie we have sinned. To see this we can examine Jesus and Eve as two contrasting situations of temptation. Eve in the Garden listens to the lie of the serpent (satan) and falls in to sin (Gen 3), resulting in death. Jesus on the other hand was far more tempted and did not receive the lies but rather countered it with truth (Matt 4). He remained in the Spirit and did not give in the desire for food or power but choose instead to be obedient. Here lies the key. Jesus did nothing out of his own will but always did what the Father want. Why? Jesus lived to please the Father out of love.
17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you ] shall surely die.” Gen. 2:17
In the Garden God told Adam not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why? Man was never meant to judge what is right or what is wrong. We are not capable of this in a right way yet today man more than ever in pride claims to know what is right and so is casts God out. When we fail to yield 100% of our life to God he is not able to fully cleanse us of all unrighteousness not because he lacks power but because we won’t let him. If we cling to our desires for whatever reason we remain open to falling but as we allow God to remove those desire and replace them with His truth we are no longer under the influence of that sin. The engine to this process is our desire to love and be with God. This has to be our first motivation. It must not be selfish but about Him. He loved us first so we love him.
Now that we know we will be tempted by the things we desire in a way that excites us. How do we deal with this and avoid sin? James goes on to tell us. In chapter four James speaks of the failure of the carnal nature. It lust and is selfish so it brings on us bad consequences (James 4:1-4). But God is not of the flesh and he has made us through Jesus into a new creation that is free of the old desires. Stop and ask yourself do you truly believe this? If you do your walk in Christ should be different. We should no longer want to live like we did before in a worldly way. If we truly love God and have given Him our life then we will want to please him. This means obedience.
32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jn 8:32
In Jn 14:15 Jesus directly links obedience with love. What does this mean? Care must be taken here not to go back to works but rather see that God is pointing to our dependence and thus intimacy with Christ. If we really love God we know that He alone is able to free us of our desires by His Spirit in us, so we willingly surrender all of ourselves to his leadership. James makes it simple, if God is leading you by His Spirit then you are under his authority and if you then empower by the grace of God choose to resist the enemy he must run away. This is what Jesus did in Matt. 4. Out of trust in God the Father, Jesus laid down his divinity and stood the temptation as a man yet sinned not. This shows us that it is possible to overcome sin by obedience. God told Cain that that sin desired him but that “should” rule over it. Cain didn’t and many of us haven’t also.
God never asks us to do something he for which he has not provided the means. We have the means by the Holy Spirit. We must come to listen and walk closely with this holy friend. It is His voice that guides us in all truth (Jn 14:26). To do this we must first want to be with God. Next, we must repent of our independence and seek to allow God to be Lord over all our life. There can be no areas left untouched or it will rise up and lead us backwards.
Take time to think about what areas of your life you are easy enticed by. Ask God to show you why. Then ask God how to break this weakness. When we approach God with a sincere heart longing to be with Him we will find He is able to free us.