We’ve met trials of various kinds, we’ve faced temptation, and for many of us that’s happened in the last week.
Our current discipleship series is in the Book of James, a letter that many mistake as being about works vs faith, when really it’s a letter that asks the question of your Christian experience: “Does faith work?”
So what about when facing temptation? Does faith actually work?
Temptation to sin is something our society sees as something like a hobby. We play with it on weekends. We toy with temptation. We’ve made temptation even cool, edgy and desirable. Yet what’s really happening is that we are being inoculated against seeing the effect of temptation to sin in our lives. Society is being shaped into seeing temptation as sweet – yet this is so far from our real experience. It’s where James starts as he shows us what it means to face temptation.
We see in James 1:15 that temptation to sin doesn’t make life sweet, but bitter. For temptation leads to sin which leads to death, now and ultimately forever. What we need is someone to lead us away from temptation, to deliver us from evil. Thanks be to God that Jesus comes to do just that.
James writes about the good news of Jesus that changes reality for us when facing temptation, in 1:18. ‘Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.’ This word of truth is gospel, for the good news is that by God’s own will he brings us forth into new life, we are born again. Because we can’t do this by our own will, for it’s badly bent out of shape by sin, God does all the work of re-working, re-shaping, re-forming us to be a kind of first fruits of his creatures – to be like Jesus. Jesus is the word of truth, so now we can stop listening to temptation, by listening to the word of truth.
Does faith work when you’re tempted? You count on Jesus it does, the one who delivers you from evil now and forever.