These small group studies of James contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

James 1:12-27 Inductive Online Bible Study – Resist Temptation and Be Doers of the Word

James 1:12-27 Video Bible Study

James 1:12-27 Podcast Bible Study

Outline

I. Temptation is not from God (12-15)
II. God gives good gifts (16-17)
III. Set apart through the Word (18-27)

I. Temptation is not from God (12-15)

Discussion Questions

  •  How is a person blessed who perseveres under trial?
  •  How can you help others persevere in the midst of trials?
  •  How can you persevere during trials?
  •  What is the crown of life?
  •  Why do you think James includes this reminder about God and temptation here in the middle of his discussion on trials?
  •  What is the difference between trials and temptations?
  •  If temptation doesn’t come from God, where does it come from?
  •  Why is it important to know the truth about the results of giving in to temptation?
  •  How does it help us to know that we ourselves are full of evil desires in our battle against temptation?
  •  So then, what steps can we take to conquer temptation in our lives?

Cross-References

1 Peter 5:10 – And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

1 Peter 1:7 – These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 that you can endure it.

Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Mark 7:21-22 – For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. Persevere under trials – All people will face trials, and believers will probably face even more than average. It is not a question of if but when. We can’t usually control the trials that we face, but we can decide how we respond to them. Believers are supposed to persevere. We are supposed to bear up under it. It might be helpful to look at the opposite of perseverance to understand what that means.

The opposite of perseverance is “giving up.” When believers (or professing believers) face trials, they could just give up. They might do so for a number of reasons. Maybe they grow to doubt God’s goodness, His plan, or even His existence. Maybe they still believe in God, but their flesh wins and they give up because it is simply “too hard” and too painful to persevere. But if you give up, you won’t win the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 – Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Perseverance is hard work. Like an athlete, we need to discipline ourselves. Athletes do not always feel like getting up early and training. Neither do we always feel like praying or studying God’s Word. Our emotions are up and down, but following God is a choice we make based on faith.

Perseverance does not mean perfection. Nobody is perfect, but a righteous person falls seven times and rises again (Proverbs 24:16). Saints that persevere will emerge from the trial victorious, having never lost the faith and having maintained a positive and grateful attitude towards the Lord.

Perseverance is a sign that the person’s faith is genuine. Trials act as a sifter to sift out false believers from the true ones. Those who truly belong to the Lord will heed the warnings in the Bible and endure victoriously and receive the crown of life.

Application: When you are facing trials, it is important to get help from other believers and not isolate yourself. Tell a close brother or sister in the Lord what you are facing. Ask them to pray for you and support you. This is what the church is for.

2. What is this crown of life? – Athletes in ancient times received a wreath placed on their heads, denoting their victory. This tradition is likely the imagery James alludes to. The crown referred to here is probably symbolic. It represents the believer’s ultimate reward, the prize that we strive for. That prize is eternal life. In fact, it is already guaranteed to those of us who believe. It has been promised, but we will finally receive it in full when we emerge victorious from this life of trials.

Consider for a moment the process of buying a house. I place a down payment on it, sign a contract, and it is “mine,” but I still need to make monthly payments. If I give up, it will be revealed that the house doesn’t really belong to me. However, after many years, if I finish all the payments, then the house is completely mine. The example is not perfect, but you can imagine that our response to trials is like making continued payments. It confirms our faith. But if we give up under trials, it is like a person who stops making payments and the house is repossessed (no, this doesn’t mean we can lose our salvation, John 10:27-30).

3. Trials and temptations are different – James makes an important distinction between trials and temptations, as well as their source. He makes it clear that God is never responsible for tempting people. Temptation comes from evil, but God is pure and holy, not evil. It is essential we know that God is not the source of temptation.

Otherwise, we may excuse our sin by blaming God and saying, “God is tempting me.” After all, if God is the one who tempts, then who are we to stand in His way? But of course, this way of thinking is wrong. God never condones sin. He is not the author of evil. And He never tempts anyone.

Satan may use a situation in your life to try to tempt you to give up. God could use the same situation to encourage you to persevere and therefore strengthen your faith.

4. Temptation spawns from our own flesh – Temptation is only effective because it interacts with our lustful flesh. God cannot be tempted. Why? Because He has no evil or evil desires. We are tempted every day because we are evil and have evil desires.

Some things might be a temptation for one person but not another because their desires are different. One person may not be tempted by alcohol and drugs but may be tempted by lustful thoughts and sex. Another person may face little temptation in the area of gluttony but great temptation in binge-watching television shows. We must be aware of our own weaknesses.

Why is it important for us to recognize our weaknesses?

1 Peter 5:8 Verse

Satan is like a lion and wants to devour you. Lions have little chance of catching wary prey. Their only opportunity is to sneak up on unsuspecting victims and pounce before they are noticed.

To avoid this fate, we must humbly realize our own fleshly weaknesses so that we can protect against them. If we are prideful, then we will fall.

What steps can we take to protect ourselves against ourselves?

Here are a few ways:

  •  Fellowship. Surround yourselves with other believers who can keep you accountable.
  •  Get an accountability partner. If you know you are tempted in one area (for example, porn), ask a brother to check up on you from time to time and ask the tough questions.
  •  Avoid places or things we know will tempt us. One famous definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and hoping for a different result. Break the cycle. Try something different.
  •  Set standards for ourselves of things we will or won’t do to make clear lines. For example, decide ahead of time that you will not be together with your girlfriend late at night in a private place to reduce temptation.
  •  Pray immediately when we face a temptation. Make a habit to just say a simple “help me” to God in the moment of temptation.
  •  Fill our minds with the Bible. If you memorize Scripture, it will come to mind to protect and convict you.

What God says through James about temptation and the steps of it are very different from what Satan says. Satan might call temptation an opportunity for pleasure.

He might say, “Each person can enjoy himself fully when he puts off the old-fashioned traditions and narrow-minded bigotry. He can engulf himself in pleasure if he just is open-minded enough to think freely and be independent of external restraints. The pleasure will be enhanced when you fully let go. The fun gives birth to pleasure, which gives birth to continuing bliss. When it is complete, you will be the happiest person alive.” The father of lies always promises more than he can deliver.

But God says that temptation realized brings about sin and that sin brings about death (Romans 6:23.) You can see the two opposing views in Genesis where God said they would die if they ate the fruit, and Satan said, “You surely will not die.”

Who was right? God was. They died. And He still is right today.

We need to understand the consequences of sin. Sin brings about misery, guilt, despair, bitterness, self-loathing, pain, and death. It looks tasty on the hook but tastes sour in your mouth. Believe God, and don’t fall for Satan’s trap.

Application: Consider one area where you are often tempted. Make an action plan to reduce temptation in this area. Find a brother or sister and show them your action plan and ask them to keep you accountable.

II. God gives good gifts (16-17)

Discussion Questions

  •  Satan wants to tell us that God is keeping us from something good, but what is the truth?
  •  Is there anything good for us that God doesn’t want us to have?
  •  How does recognizing the goodness of God’s character help us in our fight against temptation?
  •  How does recognizing the goodness of God’s character help you persevere under trials?
  •  What does it mean that the Father of lights has no “variation or shifting shadow”?
  •  Who took the initiative to save us?
  •  What does the phrase mean “first fruits among His creatures”?

Cross-References

Matthew 7:11 – If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Psalm 34:10 – The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Psalm 84:11 – For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Verse by Verse Commentary

1. When tempted, remember that God is good – In the middle of teaching on temptation, James interjects statements on God’s goodness. Why? Knowing God’s goodness is also a protection against sin.

When Satan first tempted Eve, he tried to make her doubt the goodness of God. He told her that God was keeping her from something good, something wonderful. According to Satan, eating the fruit would help her become like God. It was God’s cruelty and selfishness which restricted her from something beneficial. She fell for it, and the world fell into sin.

The truth is that everything good comes from God. He has our good at heart. When God gives us commands and rules, they are to help us, not harm us. People who reject God’s commands in pursuit of pleasure will find themselves farther and farther from joy.