Pastor James J. Barker

Text: JAMES 1:12-16


  1. When I was a young boy, my parents brought me to Rockaway Beach. I remember my father warning me of the undertow, which was very strong.
  2. If a swimmer is not careful he could easily be pulled out to sea where he could drown. In fact, it happens regularly.
  3. My message this morning is entitled, "The Downward Pull of Sin." It is far worse than the downward pull of the ocean because it can pull a sinner right down into hell.
  4. I would like to begin by stating that being tempted is not a sin. Martin Luther said: "You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair."
  5. Mark 1:13 says our Lord was "in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan."
  6. Being tempted is not a sin. Yielding to temptation is a sin.

Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin;
Each victory will help you some other to win;
Fight manfully onward, dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.


Ask the Savior to help you,
Comfort, strengthen and keep you;
He is willing to aid you,
He will carry you through.


Shun evil companions, bad language disdain,
God’s Name hold in reverence, nor take it in vain;
Be thoughtful and earnest, kindhearted and true,
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.


To him that o’ercometh, God giveth a crown;
Through faith we shall conquer, though often cast down;
He Who is our Savior our strength will renew;
Look ever to Jesus, He’ll carry you through.
(Horatio R. Palm­er)

  1. A verse that has been a great help to Christians is I Corinthians 10:13, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
  2. James 1:14 says, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed."
  3. Sin begins with the wrong desire. This ripens into a wrong act.



  1. All throughout the Bible we see warnings about the danger of trifling with temptation. Back in the Garden of Eden, the serpent tempted Eve.
  2. First Timothy 2:14 says, "the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
  3. She was deceived by the devil and since then millions of others have trifled with temptation and have fell into sin.
  4. Some do not fall into sin; they jump right in with both feet!
  5. In Scripture we see men that resisted temptation and we see men who yielded to temptation. For example, Joseph resisted temptation (Genesis 39:1-13).
  6. Joseph lost his garment, but he kept his virtue.
  7. Joseph resisted temptation, but there are many others who trifled with temptation and yielded to temptation, and fell into terrible sin (cf. Proverbs 7:4-27).
  8. Notice he "yielded" (Pro. 7:21).
  9. Notice she was wearing "the attire of an harlot" (7:10).
  10. Our Lord said, "That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matthew 5:28).
  11. So it starts with the eyes. Job said, "I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?" (Job 31:1).
  12. The idea is to expel lustful thoughts quickly, but all too often, people encourage these lustful thoughts, and dwell on them, and nourish them, and enjoy them.
  13. Then it is too late – "lust hath conceived" (James 1:15). "Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin" (1:15) – and what an ugly brat!
  14. "And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (1:15). The Bible gives us many examples of this principle -- Pharaoh, Korah, Achan, Haman, King Saul, Nabal, the unnamed prophet in I Kings 13, King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel, Sennacherib, Belshazzar, Judas Iscariot, Ananias and Sapphira, Herod and many others.
  15. The downward progress of sin is easy to understand – lust, sin, death. Death follows sin as naturally as night follows day – it is inevitable.
  16. Sin deceives people, sin blinds people, and sin destroys people.
  17. "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed" (James 1:14).
  18. Thomas Fuller said, "He that falls into sin is a man. He that grieves at sin is a saint. He that boasts of sin is a devil."
  19. Thayer's Lexicon says the word "drawn away" (1:14) is a metaphor from hunting and fishing. "As game is lured from its hiding place, so man by lure is allured from the safety of self-restraint to sin."
  20. Joseph's self-restraint kept him from being lured away by Potiphar's wife.
  21. But many people (even some Christians) do not have any self-restraint, and so they are easily lured away.
  22. Psalm 119:11 says, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." It is important to read the Scriptures, and study the Scriptures, and memorize Scripture.
  23. Second Timothy 2:22 says, "Flee also youthful lusts."
  24. First Corinthians 6:18 says, "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."
  25. We must meditate on these Scriptures and consider the shame and disgrace that always follows moral failure.
  26. We must remember that the adulterer and the whoremonger will surely be judged by God. Hebrews 13:4 says, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge."
  27. First Thessalonians 4:3 says, "For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication."
  28. The Bible says we are to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh. Galatians 5:16 says, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh."
  29. Galatians 5:19-21 says, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
  30. "Variance" is the works of the flesh. The word means, "contention, strife, wrangling." Some Christians will not get drunk or commit adultery, but boy can they wrangle!
  31. Strong's Concordance says "emulations" means, "the fierceness of indignation, punitive zeal; an envious and contentious rivalry, jealousy."
  32. "Strife" means, "a desire to put one's self forward."
  33. "Seditions" simply means "divisions" in the church (cf. I Cor. 1:10).



  1. Some people yield to sin, and then they feel terrible afterwards. Perhaps there are some here today.
  2. First of all, there is cleansing power in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. I John 1:7).
  3. Second of all, when Christ died on the cross, He died to deliver us from the power of sin (Romans 6:11-19).
  4. But some people yield to sin and do not feel bad at all. First Timothy 4:2 speaks of those who have had "their conscience seared with a hot iron."
  5. The conscience distinguishes between what is morally good and what is morally bad. The conscience prompts us to do what is morally good and the conscience prompts us to shun what is morally bad.
  6. People can avoid going to church, and they can avoid reading the Bible, and they can avoid the company of Christians, but they cannot easily turn off their conscience.
  7. To get to that place where their conscience is "seared with a hot iron" takes time. It happens after habitually yielding to sin.
  8. After habitually yielding to sin, the sinner is literally hooked on sin and he feels less compunction. Feelings of remorse, and guilt, and regret soon fade away, and he becomes a slave to sin.
  9. Proverbs 5:22 and 23 says, "His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray."
  10. William Arnot said, "Sin is the snare that takes the transgressor, and the scourge that lashes him" (Studies in Proverbs).
  11. Sin always pulls men down (James 1:14, 15).
  12. Jay Adams said, "Sinful habits are hard to break, but if they are not broken, they will bind the client ever more tightly. He is held fast by these ropes of his own sin. He finds that sin spirals in a downward cycle, pulling him along. He is captured and tied up by sin’s ever-tightening cords. At length he becomes sin’s slave" (cited by MacDonald, Enjoying the Proverbs).
  13. The context of Proverbs 5:22 and 23 is the sin of sexual immorality, but these Scriptures can be applied to any sin that pulls the sin-loving slave down.
  14. Matthew Henry said, "Those that are so foolish as to choose the way of sin are justly left of God to themselves to go in it till they come to that destruction which it leads to, which is a good reason why we should guard with watchfulness and resolution against the allurements of the sensual appetite."



  1. When preaching on this subject many years ago, A.T. Pierson made this startling statement: "When one becomes a slave of the devil, he becomes also a demon, and goes to tempting others. That is a most alarming fact. The sinner begins by trifling with temptation, till, abandoned by God, he becomes like Satan, and undertakes to make others fall" (Outline Studies of Great Themes of the Bible).
  2. There are many examples of this in Scripture. Consider King Saul. He continually yielded to sin until he became a slave to sin. God judged King Saul, and I Samuel 16:14 says, "But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him."
  3. First Samuel 19:9 says, "And the evil spirit from the LORD was upon Saul."
  4. Later on, we read in I Samuel 28:6, that "when Saul enquired of the LORD, the LORD answered him not."
  5. So Saul had his men bring him to a witch, that had a familiar spirit (demon) at Endor (I Samuel 28:7-25).
  6. Then Saul died on the battlefield. He was killed by the Philistines, but I Chronicles 10:13 says, "So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to enquire of it."
  7. Three times in Romans 3 we read that sinners can reach the point of no return and God gives up on them.
  8. Romans 1:24 says, "Wherefore God also gave them up..."
  9. Romans 1:26 says, "For this cause God gave them up..."
  10. Romans 1:28 says, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind..."
  11. One ancient expositor said that when God abandons a sinner it is like a general who leaves his soldiers out on the battlefield, and abandons them to the enemy.
  12. That is a helpful illustration, but it is worse than that. Isaiah 63:10 says, "But they rebelled, and vexed his holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them."
  13. When a sinner abandons himself to sin and the devil, God becomes his enemy. That is what Samuel the prophet told King Saul.
  14. And we see that very clearly in the book of Jeremiah.
  15. The Babylonian army was camped outside the walls of Jerusalem, and wicked King Zedekiah sent emissaries to the prophet Jeremiah, asking him to call on the LORD for him.
  16. Jeremiah responded by saying, "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel... I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and with a strong arm, even in anger, and in fury, and in great wrath" (Jer. 21:4, 5).



  1. In one of his books, evangelist Charles Finney has a whole chapter on wicked sinners who were suddenly struck down in judgment by God.
  2. In one story, Finney refers to a wicked sinner who was not only an infidel, but a great railer at churches and preachers.
  3. Finney wrote, "He was very angry at the revival movement. I heard every day of his railing and blaspheming, but took no public notice of it. He refused altogether to attend meeting. But in the midst of his opposition, and when his excitement was great, while sitting one morning at the table, he suddenly fell out of his chair in a fit of apoplexy. A physician was immediately called, who, after a brief examination, told him that he could live but a very short time; and that if he had anything to say, he must say it at once. He had just strength and time, as I was informed, to stammer out, 'Don’t let Finney pray over my corpse.'
  4. Those were his last words, and he dropped dead.

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