James 1:12-16 (TPT)
12 If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!
13 When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. 14 Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil [hooked by the bait] and lure them away into darkness. 15 Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you! 16 So my friends, don’t be fooled by your own desires!
When I was a young girl, I spent a great deal of time during the summers with my maternal grandparents. I loved every minute being with them. They were fun and oh so loving! My grandfather was an enthusiastic sportsman; fishing for Walleye was one of his favorite hobbies. I enjoyed catching fish with my grandfather, but that whole baiting the hook thing…not so much! He would say, “Mary, drape the bait [nightcrawler] in a way that hides the hook. If the fish see the hook, chances are they will not bite.” Grandpa’s lesson to me also teaches a spiritual principle unbelievers need to know and believers should never forget.
In our passage today, James reminds us Satan disguises his hook of evil to tempt humanity. He surrounds us with challenges and flaunts evil desires before creation, then he offers the bait at a person’s weakest moment. His bait may look exciting and seem to offer answers or lasting pleasure to be desired, but it is a trap that leads to spiritual death. Once humanity bites the bait, the hook is set and Satan has the power to drag his prey further into deception and depravity. Evil then begins to reveal itself through ongoing unholy human thoughts that lead to rebellious actions against God and cruel words and actions against fellow humans.
This world, as a whole, has confused people about the power of sin. In fact, our culture seems to refuse to even define sin or hint to its destructive power. So, let me define it for us now: Sin is rebellion and transgression against God and the authority of His holy Word/Law. Humanity’s ignorance about sin leaves the unbeliever most vulnerable. For the believer, we have grace, the Word, and the Holy Spirit to watch out for us. When Satan comes to tempt Christ’s followers, the Holy Spirit reminds us of God’s law [written upon our hearts] and then sends an alarm to our souls to help us refrain from consuming Satan’s bait. We may feel hungry for what Satan offers, but we know sin leads us to self-slaughter before Almighty God. So, don’t be fooled by Satan’s “bait.” His soul piercing hook is always hidden well until it is too late.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for setting into place the provision to help me each day live free from sin. Although I humbly confess I have not been perfected, I am so grateful for your grace, Word, and the work of the Holy Spirit to guard my way against the bait of Satan. I pray for this world to understand your love, the work of Satan, and the death penalty of sin. I pray for you to shine your Light of Truth upon our nation’s leaders and remove the scales from their eyes to see the hook of sin before they bite further. Call America to repentance, Lord. I pray for the world’s leaders, as a whole, to be humbled before your authority. You teach us pride goes before destruction. With leadership comes great responsibility and so many of the world’s leaders are arrogantly bent on power, control, while consuming unrighteous legislation bait set up by Satan. You are all-powerful, Lord, and your way to salvation is such a gift. Thank you for sending your Son, inviting me into salvation, extending redemption to me, and taking care of me until you return. This is not only my inheritance, but belongs to everyone who calls upon your name for help. In Jesus’ name. Amen.