Living Out The Light Pt 2: Temptation
Pastor Terry Inman
In the spring of 1952 we were returning from our mission to Japan. I was a very happy 3 year-old sailor. Our ship was cruising into the San Francisco Bay. Everyone was on the deck at four in the morning. It was cold dark and foggy but I ran to the front and yelled, Grandpa’s light!
A little over hundred years earlier John C. Fremont named this straight connecting the Bay with the ocean the "Chrysopylae" (cree-sop-e-lay) “The Golden Gate!” A shaft of rotating light from Point Bonita was searching the horizon. I just knew it was my grandpa’s front porch in Iowa!
The Bay Area appears to be in a dark spiritual fog but many prophetic voices are pointing to an unprecedented spiritual awakening. Heaven’s Light is piercing this present darkness.
Peter said, “We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” 2 Pet. 1.19-20 (NIV)
We were impressed this week in our prayer-team leaders meeting to begin declaring God’s merciful intentions for the San Francisco Bay Area. Unfortunately we are known for redefining our creator’s intentions for healthy sexual identity. We appear to be influencing the nation. Some have pronounced judgment but God is telling us to declare His redemptive purpose for our area, which is “mercy”. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
We declare the Lord’s mercy, where sin increases, grace increases more! (Rom 5.20) We come into agreement and alignment with the prophets who cried out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord. Lord Jesus make the crooked places straight! Let us see your salvation! (Luke 3.4-6)
Shine your light again from this city on the hill. Make us whole! Make this your Holy place! Make us what the Apostle Paul declared as, “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which we shine like stars in the universe!” Phil 2.15 (NIV)
In our first message from the book of James we highlighted this theme verse. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1.17 (NIV)
Last week I received an email from the worship leader Tim Gavigan of San Francisco’s historic Glad Tidings Temple. He led the worship here at our Confluence gathering a couple weeks ago.
I was praying for the Confluence on my prayer walk. I saw an image of a system of clouds in the formation of a spiral galaxy, with Harbor Light at the center of the spiral. There were huge, intense surges of electric power coming straight down to the church.
Then the vantage point receded, so that a larger and larger area was visible. The spiraling clouds were radiating out over the whole Bay Area.
I immediately connected this back to something I woke up with in the middle of the night, not many days after the first 5am prayer meeting you attended with us. "You are not going to be able to contain what I am about to do".
I know something awesome is happening in heaven that is intended for us. All we can do is get prepared. Our 40 days of Love and Light continues to “equip us” in the prayer-care-share lifestyle.
This follow-up series “LIVING OUT THE LIGHT” is also God’s gracious way of purifying and intensifying His light in us. The prayer-care-share lifestyle doesn’t work if our light is dim or diffused. The father of heavenly lights is exposing our shadows and perfecting His good gifts in us!
One of the reasons there are only about 4% attending church in the Bay Area on a Sunday is because our light has been hidden behind our religious walls or hindered by our shifting shadows. God is not beating us up for that. He is graciously and powerfully waking us up to His intentions.
Jesus got in the face of the religious doubters of his day. They were demanding more proof or miraculous evidence that he was he who he claimed to be. He told them they couldn’t see--their light was blocked.
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” Luke 11.33-36 (NIV)This brings us back to James chapter 1.13.
So where does bad stuff (darkness) come from. James says don’t blame God it’s our fatal attractions that put our lights out.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1.13-15 (NIV)
Last time we talked about how trails test or prove our faith. Today James shows us how temptation can obscure or intensify the light of God in us!
God is light he has no shadows. He lives in unapproachable light. There is nothing in Him that evil can stick too. He is totally unaffected by darkness. He cannot be enticed. Jesus said, “The ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in me.” John 14.30 (NIV)
God may allow temptation to impact us but he is never the tempter. Satan is. But even Satan has to have some bait that we bite. Jesus was hungry in the desert. The bible says, “The tempter came to Him, and said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ Jesus resisted. ‘It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matt. 4.3-4 (MSG)
James is using fishing and hunting metaphors here. Our own inherent dark desires bait the hook or set the trap--then we get hooked or dragged off.
We need to know our vulnerabilities so we don’t sucker for Satan’s lures.
Google knows what you want. One time I went online looking for a raft. Now every time I open a web page there’s an add, down in the corner enticing me to buy a really nice one. The tempter is not all knowing but he is all observing. The bible says, he is a roaring lion on the hunt, don’t give him any red meat! The bible says resist Satan and he will flee from you!
Where does good stuff (light) come from? Light comes down!
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1.16-17 (NIV)
He doesn’t tempt us with evil he gives us his good and perfect gifts. There is no better gift than spiritual birth. “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created. James 1.18 (NIV)
Look at this contrast. James said, when we take the bait, we get hooked “desire is conceived” then it “gives birth” to sin, then sin grows up and gives birth to death!
In stark contrast, our Father of Lights gives us spiritual birth and it gives us eternal life! James is telling his friends and followers of Jesus that they are just the “first fruits” of the first harvest in all of God’s creation.
How do we change bad stuff (darkness), to good stuff (light). James mentions some things that can dupe us into darkness like bad words, bad anger and bad morals.
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1.19-20 (NIV)
We talk way too much. “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue iswise.” Prov. 10.19 (NIV) Down in verse 26 James says, If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
How easily we fall into the anger trap. Some anger is healthy it can be constructive but here is taking about “fast anger” a flare up that is destructive. Bitterness is also destructive. It’s the slow burn.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Prov. 15.1(NIV) Take your time with anger, listen and make sure you are angry about the right things and expressing it the right way!
In (v. 21) James says, Get rid of all moral filth (dirtiness) and the evil (depravity) that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Getting rid of moral filth begins with humility!
We have God’s good and perfect gift. It is our spiritual birth. We receive it humbly by believing the truth (God’s light). His word is imbedded in us. His light is shining and growing brighter. His word and his spirit will help us get rid of “all” moral filth and evil so prevalent in our lives and our culture.
The original words used here describe disrobing and discarding dirty clothes. Polls suggest that 1 out of 3 Christian men are addicted to pornography. So let me ask a simple question. How can we be successful at the prayer care share lifestyle if our light is polluted with filth?
Now shame will only make it worse. God is merciful. He wants to free us and heal us but we have to bring it too His light. We have to want to shake off the dirt enough to get the help we need. We have great support groups here especially in Celebrate Recovery and our Men’s ministries.
This is not the only source of dirt. How about the stuff we allow in our living rooms on TV or the movies we think are OK to entertain ourselves with. There is trash coming at us every moment. Are we filtering it out?
So now here’s How to just do, good stuff.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. James 1.22-23 (NIV)
So don’t just sit here and listen—just do the truth! Live out the light!
God has imbedded his word in us all we have to do is live it out!
Just listening is deceiving. We think because we are hearing more truth we are getting more spiritual. We forget most of what we hear. Every time you hear truth make and action plan and carry it out!
Here’s James final thought for today. People who talk too much, don’t listen, get angry, and harbor impurity, are deceived by worthless religion.
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1.26-27 (NIV)
It is trendy in Christian culture today to care about widows and orphans and we should. He must show mercy and do justice. I am so glad we invest our time and resources in feeding parentless impoverished children around the world. We have given thousands of dollars to help project rescue bring healing and freedom to children victimized by sex trafficking.
This is great but the last part of this verse says, “Religion our “Father of Lights” accepts as pure and faultless also includes keeping ourselves unpolluted (unspotted) by the world. It’s LIVING OUT PURE LIGHT!
God is sending us fresh fire. His Holy fire is empowering us for the prayer-care-share lifestyle. This lifestyle is a light-style. This fire is consuming all the trash in our lives so His light can burn really bright! Pure light is powerful. Pure light will bring down the darkness all around us!
God is sending a fire of holiness or wholeness to this generation.
John came to prepare the way of the Lord. He said, “I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. The real action comes next: The main character in this drama—compared to him I’m a mere stagehand—will ignite the kingdom life within you, a fire within you, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives. He’ll place everything true in its proper place before God; everything false he’ll put out with the trash to be burned.” Matt. 3.11-12 (NIV)
Come Holy Spirit and burn out the trash so we can LIVE OUT THE LIGHT!