Perseverance under trial is the first step on the way to understanding what the wisdom of God is. In the original language of the New Testament, which was Greek, the word, trial is Peirasmois (πειρασμοῖς) which actually has two meanings. The first one is that testing comes from the outside such as poverty or religious persecution. The second meaning here is that testing comes from the inside such as temptation as a result of our sins. The word trial in the verse 12 takes the first meaning, which is trial from outside.
When we continue reading verse 12, we find it says, “when he (the believer of Christ) has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” This tells us that trials and tests will come to everyone. We believers of God understand that we will not fail as we have the help of God. And we also know that our God lets us fail sometimes, so we can keep trying again, and again learn wisdom to understand his purpose. The crown of life, which James tells us about might refer to a royal crown, which is given to a king or a queen. But it in fact refers to a laurel wreath, which was awarded to successful athletes, who strove and were successful. In this way, we need to strive, because God is with us and has his own purpose in this way we too will receive the laurel or crown of life.
If we lose sight of God’s plan, we might be tempted away from his purpose. James 1:14 says, “each one is tempted by his own evil desire.” We previously found out that the second meaning of trial refers to our own evil desires. This is a totally different meaning from the first one. The word trial in the first meaning tells us our hardships, which was sent us by God, but the second meaning of trial refers to our own evil desire, which were sent by Satan to tempt us. Thus when we encounter difficulties, we need to work out whether they come from God or Satan.
From now on, we will learn how to overcome our trials. Verse 15 says, “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” This means that firstly, we must be careful not to give into to temptation and desire. So we must be careful not to be tempted or deceived by Satan. Verse 16 says, “don’t be deceived.” Deceive in Greek is planaste (πλανᾶσθε), originally meaning deceive or lead astray. It has a very negative meaning. We need to be careful to be guided by God, not Satan. Otherwise, we might be deceived and will be going astray.
Let us read verse 17, “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” As the bible says, Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. No one gains spiritual life or comes to God except through Jesus. And Jesus is still here with us today. And verse 18 says, “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” While Jesus was tempted by Satan, he said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).”
To summarize this sermon, the bible says that those who persevere under trial are blessed by God. Through the process of persevering, we will accomplish God’s purpose. However, we must always be careful not to be tempted by Satan with evil desire as this can lead us sin and might kill us. We need to depend upon our Lord Jesus at all times. Because, he is the only one, who can help us to follow God.
At this time of year, this could be a good time for us all to review what we have done so far what we can do better for the kingdom of God next year. Let us ask God for his guidance, so that we are able to succeed and accomplish his purpose in this world.
Rev Dr Je Cheol Cook