“Blessed are those who persevere under trial, because when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each of you is tempted when you are dragged away by your own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
James 1:12-15 NIV
In the first section of James 1, the theme is persevering under trial or in simple terms: when we are going through a hard time, choosing to hope & keep going. In these verses specifically, James addresses a type of perseverance: overcoming sin in our life. He starts by telling us the good news: if we learn to persevere, we will be blessed & receive the crown of life! This is God’s promise to us. Then, starting in verse 13, James encourages the people of God to take responsibility for their sin and turn from it. Key word: encouraging. It is an encouragement to the body of Christ that they are not helpless against temptation & sin. In fact, we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to make decisions in alignment with God’s will for our abundant life instead of choices that give into temptation & sin.
Often times, when we sin, we look to blame anything we can: our circumstances, the culture, or as James points out: God. While circumstances and culture can play a role in our temptation & our choices, it is crucial to understand that we have a role in the decisions we make. We have the ability to choose what has an influence on us - are we going to be influenced by temptation & our flesh or are we going to make choices influenced by the Holy Spirit, which leads to life? It is crucial that we know that we are not powerless in the moment of temptation, but that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to exhibit self control. Self control is what we call a fruit of the spirit - it is a product of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23).
some practical steps
We must know that we have a role in our choices to ensure that we take responsibility for our part in fleeing from sin. We will fail to play our role if we don’t understand the tools God has given us to say yes to the type of life He has for us. Three simple ways to take responsibility:
1. Know God’s word. God has laid out all the keys to abundant life in the bible - take time to read & respond to the ways God has called us to live.
2. Seek wisdom from people you trust. Share about your life with an older Godly influence or a peer that will push you towards God & towards truth. Be honest with them, ask for accountability, and be open to correction.
3. Ask for help from the Holy Spirit. Remember that you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to choose self control - you need His help - pray and invite the Holy Spirit to convict you & give you the ability to choose God’s best for you.
As you put in this work, remember God’s promise: as you persevere against temptation & sin, you will be blessed & receive a crown of life - the life that Jesus died for you to live! It is worth it!
Holy Spirit, I invite you to be my guide & my helper. I confess that I cannot follow God’s will for my life without your help. Holy Spirit, I ask that you would convict me of the ways I am living that are not God’s best for me & that you would empower me to choose self control. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Amen.