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James 1:2

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials [temptations] of many kinds, 3 because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — NIV

2 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. — KJV

2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. — ESV

Greek Transliteration of James 1:2 with [Strong #] and brief definitions:
pas [3956] all, any, every chara [5479] joy, gladness, cheerfulness, delight hegeomai [2233] deem, consider, esteem, count, command, lead adephos [0080] brother, sibling (connected by womb, literal or figurative) mou [3450] I, me, my hotan [3752] when, while, till poikilos [3986] various, diverse, motley, of uncertain derivation peirasmos [4045] prove by: experiment, temptation, or adversity peripipto [4164] fall into or among, be surrounded with poikilos [3986] various, diverse, motley, of uncertain derivation

1.2.0 Introduction to James 1:2

In this verse James begins his letter in earnest. The very first subject he addresses is the difficulty of life. He smacks the reader upside the head with the instruction to take joy in all sorts of hard times. In our study of verse 2 we will explore this instruction in depth.

1.2.1 What is a brother?

James uses the phrase My brethren (or my brothers) to begin the body of the letter. Of course the nature of the sentence structure allows this phrase to go nearly anywhere inside verse 2, but I would prefer to cover the subject of brotherhood before going into other things. The Greek word used for brother is adelphos. It means from the same womb, nation, nature; of equal rank and dignity; associate. It could be translated as either “brothers” or “brothers and sisters.”

We know the term brother, as used here, is not limited to the males only. I don’t think it literally means the same womb, either, although (if we assume this James was Jesus’ half-brother) we know James did share the same womb with Jesus. James did not make his physical relationship with Jesus an issue, and in fact was effectively nullifying his half-brother physical status in favor of his brotherhood with fellow believers. James knew Jesus wasn’t just a man, He was divine. He was God wrapped in flesh.

Ro 8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. Of course we are not equal to Jesus, but we are in a brotherhood, sharing at least a bit of the nature of God by having the indwelling Spirit. We are of the same “nation” as God by having our home in the eternal. We are aliens here, as Abraham noted. Be cautious with this, though. Some would be tempted to say we are made in God’s image, and that justifies our brotherhood. This is not so. We are the clay. We can share brotherhood only in as much as the amount of the Spirit of God is put into our pot. It is a supernatural pot filled with its creator. The pot is not a “brother” unless it is filled with the stuff making it so. Don’t fall for a lie here. If you are full of the world, there’s no room in your pot. It is empty if you try to fill it with anything but the Water of Life (Jesus). We will speak much more on the authentic vs. inauthentic later.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. This Proverb adds another interesting angle, one which I think is a wonderful comfort. Jesus referred to us as friends as well as brothers. Earlier we talked about being servants. This verse supports the one where Jesus says there’s no greater friend than the one who lays down his life for another. Jesus called us his friends. That’s better than being a servant, don’t you think? Now we have as part of our identity being brethren together, of the same Spirit of God, children together of God. We get more than a gold watch for our service, we get a piece of inheritance. Praise God!!! As to this Proverb, it says a brother is born for adversity. If you have a sibling, or know anyone who has a sibling, you know siblings tend to fight amongst themselves at times. You also know that’s okay until someone else picks on a brother, then whoa to the outsider. Jesus and the Holy Spirit indwelling and outpouring comfort us in adversity, help us in various ways, and lead us through difficulties to something better.

1.2.2 Why did James appeal to fellow Christians by calling them brothers?

Do you think it was to suck up? Do you think it was just a common manner of speech? Do you think he was trying to identify with other believers away from Jerusalem? Was he simply trying to get their attention? Maybe he was trying to make it clear this message was directed at fellow believers and not merely wannabes?

I think part of this does have to do with James’ unique position of being Jesus’ half-brother. He was demonstrating that he was no better, or that other believers were no worse (depending on whether you’re a glass half-full or half-empty kind of person.

Another advantage of launching this way is its diplomatic effect. They say people don’t care what you know until they know you care. James started the letter in a very friendly and personal way. We already saw there are plenty of scriptures to sustain the concept of fellow Christians being brothers with each other and being children together of God. In light of this phrase from James’ letter my attention was brought to Mt 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.” Are you a peacemaker?

1.2.3 Are fellow Christians your brothers?

This question is really two…

a) Do you feel close to fellow Christians, as like brothers?

This is a personal question. For me, I feel an immediate kinship with someone I recognize as a fellow believer. After asking this question of others I know many people do not quickly accept others as siblings in Christ. There’s at least something we all have in common. I don’t expect to agree on politics or even theological details, but Jesus Christ doesn’t change, nor his Lordship or Sovereignty.

b) Do you think of them as brothers?

This is kind of the same question, but rather than the subconscious feeling, do you make it conscious? Philemon 16: no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

1.2.4 Regarding family problems…

Again, this is a multi-faceted question:

a) Do you always get along with your brothers and sisters in Christ?

Its not a perfect world - not yet anyway. The closer we draw to Jesus, the closer we will draw to each other, I think. Historically, it is sad to note that the church (little ‘c’) is often referred to as the only army which shoots its own wounded. This is a sarcastic stereotypical view of christianity (little c), but unfortunately it is well earned. Christians are called to take care of their own first and foremost, and to then share that kindness with others. Now this can easily be taken the wrong way, so don’t think I’m saying its supposed to be some exclusive club. I’m just saying we need to always be mindful of our family and take care of them. Don’t let a brother or sister languish in pain if you can help them. Don’t let them be hungry or naked. Don’t put them down and prevent them working. Help them avoid getting into a position of ridicule for their own foolish mistakes.

b) What about when I have problems with a ‘brother’?

There’s a wealth of scriptures that deal with brotherhood. Mt 5:23-24 helps with this question: So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. There are others, but this one speaks to the importance of dealing with personal conflicts. I think our purpose for being in this world is to help others with their journey in this world. If you have a personal problem with a ‘brother’ then it stands to reason you need to work that out, not let it fester. Those kinds of things get in the way of your relationship with Jesus. The wisdom of this passage in Matthew to me is that you’ll find peace and help another wounded person if you take care of the issue sooner rather than later. It will please the Lord and make your offering more acceptable.

c) How does it affect you if you’ve got a problem with a brother?

1 John 2:9-11. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded him.” Perhaps a discussion of the meanings of love and hate are in order, and if you feel the need to discuss it that’s what the comments are for. I’m going to leave off this and let the verse stand on its own merits as an answer to this question.

1.2.5 Are we really supposed to find joy during trials and temptations?

This is kind of a bogus question. James 1:2 tends to be a poorly understood passage because of the word “when.” Many people somehow think you should enjoy the experience of a trial or temptation. That is not what James is saying. It is more appropriate to think of the word “when” as referring to the result of the trial, not necessarily the experience as it is happening. The trial isn’t the joyful part, rather it’s the result of the trail.

I know people who have a lot of trouble with God because they think they’re supposed to be happy when they get hit in the face with five flavors of crap slung by five different people. Some get from verse this that God gave them the hard way to go and they’re supposed to be happy anyway. Nonsense. God has a magnificent way of taking manure and turning it into something beautiful. Satan destroys, but God creates. It takes fertilizer to grow a flower. If you only had sunshine, would the crops ever yield? You don’t have to like the rain, and you don’t have to like the crap, and you don’t have to like to the trials and temptations. God uses (not necessarily creates) problems we face to make us grow in our faith, to grow closer to Him. If we react as we’re instructed in this passage we will grow in our perseverance and we will one day lay hold of the prize.

Rev 3:18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.

Mal 3:2-3 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

Certainly being the silver or gold going through the refinement isn’t a lot of fun. It’s the high quality product at the end of the process God is interested in (and therefore WE should be interested in). God seeks perfection. We aren’t perfect. When we love God and let him refine us and accept his refining process, we become purified, his Grace being the staple of this, the atoning blood of Jesus providing the opportunity for grace.

1.2.6 What is meant by the term diverse temptation (trials of many kinds)?

According to my interlinear and other sources I checked, the Greek words “poikilois peirasmos” translate directly to “diverse temptation.” Diverse meaning “of many kinds” and the word for temptation also having possible connotations as trial or difficulty.

The Greek words poikilois peirasmos are the words translated here. I struggled with the different languages of NIV vs KJV, but with a little help from an online interlinear I gleaned a few things to help clarify.

The Greek word poikilois is translated as “diverse” in KJV and as “of many/varied kinds” in the NIV/ESV. These are all reasonable.

Greek word peirasmos is translated in KJV as “temptation,” but in NIV and ESV as “trial.” It was used more often in the NT mostly as what we traditionally think of as temptation, as from the devil. Some other places used include Mt 6:13, Mt 26:41, Lk 4:13, 1 Co 10:13, 1 Ti 6:9, to name a few. Here’s the literal translation:


1. an experiment, attempt, trial, proving: the trial made of you by my bodily condition, since condition served as to test the love of the Galatians toward Paul.

2. the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy

1. an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances

2. an internal temptation to sin 1b

3. of the temptation by which the devil sought to divert Jesus the Messiah from his divine errand

1. of the condition of things, or a mental state, by which we are enticed to sin, or to a lapse from the faith and holiness

2. adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness

4. temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men

1. rebellion against God, by which his power and justice are, as it were, put to the proof and challenged to show themselves

The Greek word more commonly translated as “trial” is “dokime.” It literally means proving, trial, approved, tried character, or a proof - as in a specimen of tried worth. In James 1:2 it seems either trial or temptation is acceptable, though later in James 1 the subject of temptation is dealt with in more detail. Temptation makes more sense in a no-nonsense view of what God wants to tell us. Trial, however, is more all-inclusive to the overall message James is conveying in this paragraph. Since either word is arguably valid we shall discuss both. We need to look for the good that comes from difficult challenges, whether presented by men, Satan, or God. Trials or temptations aren’t typically fun in and of themselves, but certainly when we persevere the gold we’ve purchased was well worth the price (ref Rev 3:18).

1.2.7 Do you feel pulled in many directions? Lots of distractions? Is it difficult to focus on God?

Phil 3:13-14 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Paul framed his fleshy experience walking in the world for Christ as a metaphor, in this case of a race. Paul used sports because races were popular. The first Olympics were during that era. Races were something people could relate to. I mention it in relation to the words of James because the antidote for distractions is to focus. Paul didn’t say it was easy to focus, in fact he said he strained (kicked at the goads). He didn’t say it was automatic, either. He said he was pressing toward the goal to with the prize he felt called toward, and in fact said he didn’t feel he’d yet taken hold of that prize.

We can become cocky if we think our salvation is secure on any given day of the week. Jn 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. Jesus warns us to remain in him, speaking about the vine and branches. The world is one gigantic distraction. Cars, TV, work - these are the innocuous things that distract us, never mind the more overt temptations like sex, money, gluttony, and so forth. I spend a lot of time and effort breaking down these verses and doing commentary. Lots of details. My goal isn’t to dissect in great detail, but to grow closer to my Master and share Him with anyone willing. It is a temptation to me to focus on these fine details and forget the reason for the message - to reach a lost world with a message of hope.

Jn 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus declares he is the source of eternal life.

Rev 21:4 gives enough of a glimpse at what this life will be like to know it is worth any price. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

The good news of Eph 2:8-9 is that the price was paid by another and for us it is free. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Jn 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. John makes it clear that there is a string attached: “believe.” This is a verb, and it requires action. Jn 15:5 tells us to abide in Jesus. Jn 5:14 warns us to stop sinning - our sin has consequences. Jn 15:6 gives us a glimpse as to what those consequences are. Focus on the goal, and press on.

1.2.8 What is joy?

Joy is often confused with fun or happiness. My pocket explanation is as follows: Fun is pleasure, physical and light hearted. Happiness is the external expression of pleasure. Joy is internal, spiritual, deep, and consuming. From the dictionary:


1.      A source of enjoyment, amusement, or pleasure.

2.      Enjoyment; amusement: have fun at the beach.

3.      Playful, often noisy, activity.


1.      Characterized by good luck; fortunate.

2.      Enjoying, showing, or marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.

3.      Being especially well-adapted; felicitous: a happy turn of phrase.

4.      Cheerful; willing: happy to help.

5.      Characterized by a spontaneous or obsessive inclination to use something. Often used in combination: trigger-happy.

6.      Enthusiastic about or involved with to a disproportionate degree. Often used in combination: money-happy; clothes-happy.


1.      Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness.

2.      The expression or manifestation of such feeling.

3.      A source or an object of pleasure or satisfaction: their only child, their pride and joy.

1.2.9 How do you feel about having to face trials and/or temptations? How do you “count it joy” when things are tough?

Ro 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For starters, know God is calling you and your journey will include carrying a cross. Ultimately, however, it all works out in the end.

Neh 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy is a source of strength. That isn’t obvious, but experience only proves God’s word given in this verse.

Ro 5:3-5 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. This passage reads almost as though Paul were quoting James, though Paul puts a little different spin on the subject. The source of joy is the Holy Spirit. This is why I think of joy as internal and spiritual rather than external.

Col 1:9-12 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. Yet another example of Paul standing in firm agreement with James, amplifying his words, but in no way taking away or changing the meaning of God’s message. Joy here is tied to patience and endurance, strength, knowledge, and obtaining the ultimate prize in eternity.

Happiness is contingent upon exterior conditions. Joy is contingent upon interior conditions. If we count it joy (internal) to fall into diverse temptations (external), we are able to persevere in the Lord (internal) during the trials (external). ’When’ denotes inevitability. Even the non-believer faces diverse trials/temptations. James 1:2 is a preparation verse, girding the saint for what lies in his path. Over time you can grow in faith to the point where trials aren’t distractions dividing you from the Lord, but rather they are the things that propelled you toward the Lord.

And so, the question above looms: Are you able to find the joy?

1.2.10 What is temptation?

In an earlier question we looked at the Greek word peirasmos translated “temptation” in the KJV and “trial” in the NIV and ESV. For now we are going to concentrate on temptation.

Websters defines “temptation” (n) as the act of tempting or the state of being tempted, or as an enticement. The root word, tempt (v), means to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure; it also means to make a trial of a test; to provoke, to induce; to cause to be strongly inclined.

Lk 4:1-13 illustrates the Temptation of Christ that took place in the desert at the start of Jesus’ ministry: And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Jesus went straight from his water baptism by John to the desert where he fasted 40 days, preparing for his encounter with Satan. Satan tried three times to tempt Jesus. First with food. Second with power. Finally to tempt him to prove who he was. There are probably a hundred lessons we can take from this passage, but in context with our study we see that what Satan did met the textbook definition of temptation. The same Greek word used for temptation in this passage of Luke is also used by James.

While Jesus overcame the temptation, in Acts 5:1-10 we see an example of a temptation that wasn’t overcome by Ananias and Sapphira, and the result. James 1:13-15 explains the process of how temptation becomes sin, but we’ll discuss that later.

1.2.11 Who Tempts Us?

James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. Satan is the ultimate – if not direct – source of temptation. God does not tempt. Temptation is not just an enticement to do wrong in exchange for pleasure. The pleasure is a lie because after you’ve sinned you always feel empty, dirty, sick, and there is no pleasure. Most people would call this your conscience. The promise of pleasure was a lie. Duh: it was Satan making you the promise. What else did you expect?

Heb 12:7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? The source of discipline is God. Discipline may seem unpleasant at the time, but the results are good – unlike temptation which is manifested in sin. (Heb 12:11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.)

Tests/trials may be of God, of Satan, or of man. Not necessarily enjoyable themselves, still God uses for good what was intended for evil. We are told to test (prove – KJV) all things and hold onto the good (1 Thess 5:21), so testing can certainly be humanly induced. Testing (proving) is the kind of righteous judgment we are authorized to undertake. Testing by God divides good from bad, like the pruning of Jn 15. Satan is also judgmental, but he’s looking for prey. Unrighteous judgment is a tool, in fact a temptation, he uses to lure us into division.









Result of


Following God


How to tell

Fits Crime

Proves Faith

Leads Astray





Right Response




Do Not

Make Light of

Shine Back

Fall Into

God Says

We’re Sons

His Name’s in Us

Flesh is Weak

Ends With

Fear & Holiness

Death & Glory

Sin or Victory

1.2.12 Why does Satan try to tempt us?

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. This verse makes it clear the devil is looking for prey. He will steal our souls if we let him (Mk 13:22). Short of that he’ll do whatever he can to prevent us from being effective in our service to our Master (2 Pe 1:3-15). At every turn he will try to steal our joy (2 Cor 12:7).

The bible calls Satan a deceiver (Rev 20:8), an accuser (Rev 12:10), and a tormentor (2 Cor 12:7). Satan does so well because he looks so good (2 Cor 11:14). One of Satan’s greatest successes was in the garden (Gen 3). One of his greatest failures was in the desert (Lk 4).

James 1:15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Temptations play on our carnal desires. If the lies can be sold to us through convincing deception (and our nature is to want to hear what we want to hear) we let the desire turn into sin. If Satan could cause the fall of the perfect creation of God (Gen 1:31, 3:6), don’t you think he can get to us? Especially if we don’t seek (Jn 15:7) a “hedge” of protection from God (Job 1:10).

I heard it said that Satan is just trying to make us ineffective, that he can’t harm us directly. Don’t be deceived! Remember the parable of the seeds (Lk 8)? They all got the same seeds, but Satan can try and all too often succeeds at taking away the faith. Do you think you can’t fail in faith? Then you have already accepted a lie. The warning is 2 Pe 2:21. No faith, no salvation (Jn 3:18).

1.2.13 Are we alone when we face temptation?

1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. Do you ever feel like you’re fighting the good fight, but you’re doing it all by yourself and there’s nobody else out there on the same team? You’ve heard it said that misery loves company. While I take that as a worldly euphemism, I think its true for many that comfort and strength can be drawn from knowing that you are not alone in your struggles. Jesus faced temptations (Lk 4), too. Aside from Christ, none of the prophets or disciples were perfect, they all struggled, and most of them had it pretty bad. Whatever you are struggling with today, abide in the company of the Lord (Jn 15:5) and you will find help (Ps 121) when you ask (Jn 15:7).

1.2.14 What should we do about temptation?

Before I even try to answer, let me tell you there’s a big difference between what to do about Satan and what to do about temptation. People tend to get confused about this, so I’ll try to be as clear as possible. There are two basic choices: fight or flight. Which is right?

Avoid it. 1 Thess 5:22 “Avoid every kind of evil.” Make every effort not to be put into a bad position.

Abstain from it. 1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” As Nancy Reagan liked to say, “Just Say No.”

Flee From it and Replace it. 2 Tim 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” This verse is extremely good because it contains two parts, and the second is the real key, in my humble opinion. Like the other verses above it tells us to run away from the bad, but this one states what should be obvious - run to what is good. Replace the desires of the flesh with a desire for the Lord. If you’re concentrating on what is good, it will be more difficult for the selfish desires to get hold of you. 1 Cor 6:18 and 10:14 also provide instructions to flee temptation.

Deny Self. Lk 9:23 “Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’“ This verse, like the one above it, essentially says to turn from your self (your selfish desires which capitalize on temptation) and seek the Lord instead. I think this is the distilled essence of repentance.

Put your confidence in the Lord. 1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so you can stand up under it.” Solomon said there’s nothing new under the sun. I just love that saying.

Nowhere in scripture does it tell you to fight temptation. Nowhere does it say use willpower to stand up to temptation. The word tells us to avoid it, escape it (flee), replace it with what is Godly. In fact, in my bible’s concordance it lists the word ‘flee’ 6 times, 5 of those are about fleeing temptation (the other says you can’t flee God). Don’t give temptation a foothold to get inside your tent.

1.2.15 What should we do about Satan?

First, consider this: What are we supposed to do about God? Well, chiefly we are to worship him. What does God do? Among other things, God creates. As part of the creation, we like it and therefore worship him. We don’t worship creation, do we? No, we accept and appreciate and cohabitate with the rest of creation, but worship is reserved for God alone.

As to Satan, we know he doesn’t worship. He lies and destroys. If someone came into your home and tried to kill your children, wouldn’t you fight them? If you wanted to reduce the risk of this happening, you would move to a better neighborhood, get a good set of door locks, get an alarm system, join a neighborhood watch, and so forth. You would take preventative action. Yesterday when we spoke of temptation and what to do, we were taking preventative actions. With regard to Satan’s attacks, we shift from the passive action of preventing a problem to facing and dealing with a problem in progress.

Jas 4:7b Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. With temptation we were told to flee. With Satan, we are told to resist. Resist is an interesting word. It implies a defensive confrontation. We aren’t instructed to pick a fight, rather to defend ourselves when the enemy presents himself.

Eph 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… This is known as the “Whole Armor of God” passage. It is included here in its entirety so you can see for yourself what it entails. God wins, not us. Satan schemes against us. Our enemy is not merely men. Most of the armor is defensive. Only the “Spirit, which is the word of God” is an offensive weapon of attack. Of all the components, this item is purely God and not at all human. Finally, we are instructed to use constant prayer to maintain communication with the battle commander. If we stop communicating with God, we then take matters into our own hands. Of what value is our only offensive weapon if we cannot wield it?

We don’t do battle against temptation because it is unrealized sin. We avoid sin by avoiding temptation. Satan seeks to devour (1 Pe 5:8), so him we have to face and fight.

Dt 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. We aren’t alone. If we don’t “abide” in Jesus, can we expect to have God’s help and his authority to make Satan flee? No, I don’t think so. None of this scripture stands alone. It must be taken as a whole and in context to understand the full gravity of what is going on. That’s why we need the full armor of God. We can’t win alone.

Various authors say not to give Satan authority he doesn’t have. I would say don’t be deceived about the authority he already has (Gen 3, Ro 5, Eph 6:12, Rev 12:9). We don’t need to give him authority because God already has done that. I’ve also heard that Satan can’t be everywhere at once and he doesn’t attack and tempt us directly all the time. Be very careful if that’s what you think. We don’t know how quickly Satan can move from place to place and we don’t know what God permits Satan to do in any given situation (remember Job?). We know Satan isn’t alone. There’s plenty of demons who do the same work and we have no idea how many of them there are - all are classified as “devil” as far I can tell. And, the “dark principalities and powers of this world” are the men who do the bidding of Satan (evil). They’re certainly lurking all around us, too, and they’re visible!

The desire to sin already lies in our flesh. In Romans 5 we see a sinful nature is passed down from Adam, brought to him courtesy of Satan, thus we are susceptible to temptation and sin. Satan doesn’t have to be personally and directly involved for you to “feel” temptation. He is the ultimate author of sin and lies. The world (property of Satan) provides plenty of common temptations courtesy of its author.

Why must we deny the self and pick up our cross daily and follow Christ if not to fight?

1.2.16 Should we fear Satan?

2 Tim 4:18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. It is worth noting that the rescue might be more like Stephen’s case where you are “rescued” to heaven (Acts 7:54-60) rather than Peter’s escape from prison (Acts 12:1-17). Either way, God makes provisions according to His will. We aren’t taught to fear Satan, but to resist him. Resist implies defensive fighting rather than offensive, but it is still fighting. We are only told to fear God (Pr 1:7). Fear him because he can more than kill you, he can throw you into hell (Lk 12:4-5).

Short answer: No.

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