Don’t take the bait by Rev. Keith Barnhart
A mother told her son that he was not allowed to go swimming that day. However, when he returned home that afternoon his mother noticed that his hair was wet and that he carried under his arm a wet bathing suit.
“Johnny!” his mother scolded, “I told you not to go swimming today.” “I couldn’t help it, Mom. I walked by the lake and it looked so clear and inviting. I was just going to stick my feet in it for a minute, and the water was so warm and felt so good on my legs. I just couldn’t resist!” he said with a big wide smile.
Mom looked at Johnny and said, “One question son, why did you take your bathing suit with you when I had told you that you couldn’t swim today?” “I didn’t trust myself Mom, so I took it with me just in case I was tempted.”
Webster’s Dictionary tells us that temptation is “the act of enticement to do wrong by the promise of pleasure or gain.” Now isn’t that just like the Devil, getting us to do something wrong by promising us something good?
There isn’t a day that goes by in any of our lives where we aren’t tempted in some way. Temptation comes packaged in a variety of ways. To name a few: we are tempted to lie, cheat, gossip, over eat, to hold grudges, to steal, and to sexual immorality.
A four year old girl was caught by her Mom standing on a stool in the kitchen eating cookies. Her Mom had told her that she was not to be eating those cookies until after dinner. When caught red-handed and confronted by her Mom, she said “Mom, it’s not my fault, honest! I climbed up on that stool because I just wanted to smell them, and my tooth got caught!”
Let’s look at four undeniable facts about temptation from James 1:13-15: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14. but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (NIV 84)
Fact #1 is that temptation is inevitable. You can count on it! You can depend on it! It’s going to happen. Notice James says, “When tempted” not if. Now it would be wonderful if we could live life without facing temptations, but the simple fact is that we cannot.
Temptation is never directed by God is fact #2. The last part of verse 13 says, “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they realized they were naked and hid. And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Adam answered and said “the woman that YOU put here with me – SHE gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” Adam blamed God! It was his fault because he had given him Eve. Then he blamed Eve because she had given him the fruit from the tree. But he didn’t have to eat it, did he? So in reality, whose fault was it? Of course, it was Adam’s fault. He had yielded to temptation.
How are you at accepting responsibility for your actions? When you do something wrong do you admit it, or do you blame someone else?
The third fact I want to share with you is that temptation is an individual matter. When you and I yield to temptation, it’s an individual matter, and we can’t place the blame on anyone other than ourselves. Nothing outside of ourselves is strong enough to cause us to sin, not even Satan. The Devil didn’t make us do it, we made ourselves do it.
The final fact about temptation that I want to share with you is temptation that leads to sin always follows the same pattern. If you go fishing, you use bait to catch the fish. That’s exactly the way that temptation works with us. The bait is dropped and it is something that looks really good to us, appeals to us, and interests us. And we have a choice to make as we look at that bait dangling there before our eyes. Our choice is to bite or not to bite.
If the bait on the end of that hook did not look like something good to eat then the fish would never bite the hook. Sin is fun and it does feel good. However, as pleasurable as it is, this enjoyment only lasts a short time.
“If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Cor. 10:12-13, NLT) Don’t take the bait but run the other way. There is always a way out.