Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash
James 1:2-8 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
The word rendered as “temptations” is the Greek πειρασμός peirasmós, (pronounced pi-ras-mos’) which does not mean “temptations”that come from the flesh, the devil, or the world. We are told:
count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations
The word πειρασμός peirasmós, (pronounced pi-ras-mos’) here is better rendered “to try or prove the genuineness of a thing, to test so as to determine value”. Later in our text James tells us that:
James 1:12 … Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
The Christian is not promised that there will not be trials in his or her life. The Christian is promised that ALL trials that come will prove the genuineness of our salvation. The faith that saves is the faith that endures. A faith that will not endure a trial is a counterfeit faith … and unworthy to make anyone a member of the Family of God.
You have all seen cashiers at stores test twenty dollar bills with a felt tip pen. With the advances that computers, printers, and scanners have made over the years it is possible for counterfeiters to scan and print twenty dollar bills on regular paper. Regular paper is made of wood cellulose bound together with starch based glue, whereas American money is printed on cotton or linen fabric bound together under high heat. The felt tip pen the cashiers use has an iodine solution that reacts to the starch glue in regular paper. If the bill is counterfeit, the pen mark will be dark brown or black. If not, the mark will be light or nearly blend in to the bill.
God uses trials to test His children. When His children by faith in Christ are tried they may be marked by the trial. But the mark of the trial will not destroy that child, but prove that he or she is indeed a child of God.
Trials Are Described As A CONTROLLED Fall
For The Christ Follower
count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations
I have never planned a fall – it always just happens. I got up from bed last night – I won’t say why – but as I got on my feet I stood up too fast and nearly fell over. Had I not grabbed the dresser nearby I would have fallen. No older person plans a fall. We do our best to avoid it. The phrase “when ye fall” is the Greek περιπίπτω peripíptō, (pronounced per-ee-pip’-to) which means “to fall INTO something that is all around you”. I almost “fell into the floor” (for that was all around me) but I did not – thank the Lord – because the dresser was near to hand and I was able to grab it.
If you are tried in your faith by God and are truly a saved by faith child of God, then God will be all around you. He will grab you when you are tried!
The Psalmist said … Psalm 37:9 … evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth. … 17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken: but …
the Lord upholdeth the righteous.
23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. 24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
A trial of faith is a fall – unplanned by the believer in Christ but planned and controlled by God. God is ALL AROUND the believer. When we FALL, we shall not BE UTTERLY CAST DOWN. Why? Because God is all around us!
Psalm 139:1-3 O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou COMPASSEST my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
God ENCOMPASSES or encircles us when we walk (my path) and when we do not walk (my lying down). When the Christ child falls into trials the Father allows us to stumble, but not to utterly fall. He encircles us as we go through our day. He guards us as we guarded our toddling children, teaching them to walk while protecting them from deep physical harm. This is why the Apostle Paul could say with confidence:
Romans 8:28 … And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Our Lord Jesus was Himself tested. He was tested in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4), and was tested in Gethsemane. The Bible tells us that:
Matthew 26:36-38 … Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
What Can I Apply To My Life From Gethsemane?
As Jesus faced His final great trial – the Cross of Calvary – He took Peter, James, and John with Him to pray in Gethsemane. Jesus asked these three men – all leaders in the early Church – to pray with Him and watch with Him. We see several things in Jesus’ approach to trial:
When tried, Jesus sought the companionship of like minded believers. He sought out leaders in the Church, people well acquainted with His life and prayer. It amazes me when people are tried that they often go to the lost, or to people as messed up as they are! Jesus could have asked anyone to go and pray with Him in Gethsemane, but He chose those three that He had discipled the hardest – Peter, James, and John.
In the 2008 movie Fireproof when the marriage of Caleb and Catherine Holt is in trouble, Catherine goes to her lost friends and, in tears, tells all the bad things that Caleb did. What was her “friends” responses?
“Honey, I agree with you. You gotta get out. He don’t deserve you.” … (another friend chimes in) “You can say that again. A real man’s got to be a hero to his wife before he can be to anybody else, or he ain’t a real man.” … (the third friend weighs in) “Catherine, do you need a place to stay? I can’t imagine living in the same house as that man.”
Going through a trial relying on carnal people giving carnal advice does nothing to help a Christian grow in patience or in wisdom. In fact, seeking advice from someone who is unbiblical in their approach to life is going to add to rather than help put out the fire. Jesus called Peter, James, and John and asked them to pray and watch with Him as He sought the Father’s face.
All born on the face of this earth are tried – even Jesus. To be a child of God does not guarantee you will not be tried. Being a child of God guarantees you will be tried. If you are a child of God following the will of the Father you will be tried. Our Lord Jesus said:
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye SHALL have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Jesus did not say you MIGHT have tribulation, but ye SHALL have tribulation. The Christ and His people are light in the midst of darkness (see 2 Corinthians 4:6). Light is a thing – darkness is not. Darkness is the absence light. Did you know that a lit match has no shadow whatsoever?
Light cannot have a shadow, as darkness is the absense of light!
If you belong to God and are in any way human, you WILL be tried. The world will hate you. The world will hate your Church. The Church that operates within the standard of God’s will will indeed be called:
You will find yourself at odds with the lost world. But Beloved, do not fear. The Apostle Paul told us that we would be tried. The Church not tried by the world is the Church following the lost and not the Lord. But if we follow the Lord we will be tried as Paul was tried. But be encouraged, for he told us:
Romans 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Jesus wanted Peter, James, and John to watch and pray with Him in Gethsemane. This is why He invited them into the Garden with Him. He did not want their opinions nor even their encouragement – Jesus wanted them to pray. To PRAY!
James 1:5-6 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.
In the midst of the trial we lack wisdom. We often because of fear and trembling lose our bearings. What do we do then? The Bible says let him ask of God. Trials should drive us into the arms of God.
On the evening of July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy Jr., the son of the late US president John F. Kennedy, tragically died when he crashed his Piper aircraft into the Atlantic Ocean. John’s wife Carolyn and sister-in-law, Lauren, died in the crash with him. The official investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that John suffered from “spatial disorientation” while descending over water at night. In short, he thought the ground was further down than it was. He was flying by sight, not by instrument, and ended up killing himself those he loved. This is not uncommon. When I was in the Air Force I remember having to go out on a “search party” to look for a pilot and his aircraft. The pilot was on night maneuvers and, at one point, was flying with the aircraft belly toward the sky. Not heeding his instruments the pilot “pulled up”, but since he was flying with belly to the sky he drove the aircraft – canopy first – into the ground. The man died immediately – and we at the base were left to clean up afterwards.
We who are Christ’s children are to live our lives following the instrumentation of our Bibles and of the Holy Spirit through prayer.
We are called to deny the flesh – to be living sacrifices unto God (Romans 12:1-2) – and to pray for one another. We are told later in James:
James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Jesus asked Peter, James, and John to pray with Him, but they fell asleep. The Lord told them:
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
The word rendered Watch is the Greek γρηγορεύω grēgoreúō, (pronounced gray-gor-yoo’-o). It means “be vigilant, pay strict attention to, take heed of”. Jesus used the same word when He told us:
Matthew 24:42 Watch therefore; for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Matthew 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the son of man cometh.
Our Lord Jesus is coming again. It is in prayer that we stay vigilant, ever mindful of ourselves. It has been said that had Peter been more watchful in the Garden, maybe he would not have denied his Lord so readily later on that day. Prayer and Bible study is not the add ons the the Church, an “option” that can be easily ignored. Prayer and Bible study are the heart’s blood of the Church and of the Christian way of life. Failure to focus on prayer NOW leads to failure in the flesh LATER.
The Apostles slept when they should be praying – and many in churches across our land sleep when they should be praying. Prayer services are usually the least attended service of any at the Church. The spirit of the sleeper lives on. It was not until the Apostles woke up and prayed in one accord that God blessed them in a mighty way. The church grew by 3000 on the Day of Pentecost because of prayer. Coincidence? I don’t think so. If we want to grow as a church we must be consistent in prayer.
May God touch your hearts with His Word.