During our previous staff Bible study, we covered chapter 1 of James. The title of the article was Living faith vs. Dead faith, part 2. The entire book of James is all about distinguishing between living and dead faith. James wrote to people of faith, not wanting them to examine themselves to see if they have faith or not, but, instead, they were to examine their “faith” and discover if it is living or dead. In chapter 1, James shows several situations that arise during your daily life that will prove if your faith is living or dead.
- Handling trials and temptation – how do you go through trials? what do you do when tempted? do you seek to blame others when tempted? do you seek to blame God when you are tempted? do you go to God for wisdom or do you think that you know it all and can do it on your own?
- Handling your sin nature – living faith comes as a result of being born again and once you are born again, you are able to control your sin nature. You are no longer controlled by your anger. You set aside wickedness. You seek to serve the people around you. You are humble and you receive the Word of God humbly. You live your daily life being led by the Word of God and not your sin nature.
These are all situations that reveal if your faith is living or dead. The good news is that if you have dead faith and God has revealed that to you, then you can come to Him to be born again through the Word of God. That is why the Gospel is such “Good News”.
Today’s lesson is going to focus on trials and temptations. People with no faith, people with dead faith, and people with living faith all have this one thing in common; we all have to face trials. Faith does not remove trials. Living faith helps us go through trials God’s way.
The Greek word for trial is “pierazo“. It means to try or test something to determine it’s quality. Based on this definition and how it is used in chapter 1, trials test us to see what kind of faith that we have. Trials are actually good things because, not only do they reveal what kind of faith we have, they also do the following . . .
- cause joy, if understood and gone through properly
- help build our endurance
- mature you as you go through them properly
- force you to depend upon God moment by moment
In order to go through a trial properly, I need to have the right attitude.
- An attitude of joy
- A blessing to endure trials
- Humble desire to glorify God in all things, including my trial
If I understand these deep truths then I will be able to face all the trials in my life with joy because I know that my genuine faith is being revealed and that this living faith will allow me to go through the trial God’s way. As I go through the trial properly, God uses the trial to increase my endurance, give me wisdom, teach me to depend on Him, and mature me as a believer. It is all done for my good and His glory.
What happens if I do not face the trial with the right attitude or understanding of what a trial is? How are trials and temptations linked since God cannot be tempted and He cannot tempt anyone?
The Greek word for temptation is the same Greek word that is used for trial. God can allow a trial but He cannot tempt us so how can trial and temptation be the same word? I am glad that you asked. The difference between a trial and temptation is our response to our trials. A trial can become a temptation if we do not go through it properly. If we try to blame God or someone else, or, if we have the wrong attitude then this trial can and will become a temptation to us. Trials are like a magnet to metal, like bait to a fish. They stir up our sin nature and as a result, we are tempted. We are tempted to dislike trials and complain for having to go through them. We are tempted to think that we do not need God’s help, we can do it on our own. We are tempted to blame God for allowing us to go through trials. Trials that turn into temptation can easily turn into sin which will destroy us in the end. When handled properly, trials mature us. When handled improperly, trials lead to temptation and sin which tear us down. The only person I have to blame for falling in the face of temptation is myself. I cannot blame others. I cannot blame God. I cannot blame circumstances and situations. I am at fault. Living faith will help us overcome temptations but dead faith, being useless, will fail us when we face temptations.
If you find yourself in the midst of temptation because you did not handle a trial properly, what should you know/do? The answer is found in I Corinthians 10:13. God is faithful to provide a way of escape for us. We must look for that way of escape and have the wisdom to take the way of escape, for our own good and for His glory. As James 1 teaches us, we need to go to God and ask for help and He is faithful to help us in all situations. We can go to the Lord because He knows what we are going through. He can sympathize with us and offer us help in our time of need, according to Hebrews 4:15-16. We need to draw near to the Lord, especially in our time of need.
What about you my dear friend, how are you handling the trials in your life? What does that reveal about your faith, is it living faith or is it dead faith? When you are faced with temptation, how do you respond? Do you try to blame others? Do you allow your sin nature to cause you to lust and sin? Did you know that God always wants to provide a way out? Do you recognize that way of escape and take it? What are the trials of life producing in you, maturity or temptation? Are they producing endurance or destruction? May the Lord help us recognize what kind of faith that we have so that we can either mature or come to the Lord and be born again to a new life that lives according to living faith each and every day.