35 How To Win In Life

James 1:12-18 CPS and Outline

Here are the notes for the Central Proposition of the Sermon and the outline.

Developing the CPS More Fully

Who am I speaking to?

Let’s focus on teens and young adults.

Why am I preaching this topic?

  • I want to teens see how they can overcome temptation in life and choose a better path.
  • I want teens to believe that they can overcome sin, that they can decide what things they will desire through good decision-making skills.
  • I want them to avoid common pitfalls of life by learning to desire what is good and not what is evil or natural.

HOW do I plan to show them what to do?

I will reveal the stages of the process of sin and death and then show them where they can make a change at the very beginning of the process so that life comes instead. Very briefly.
Then I will show how to make the decisions.
  • Consider the options
  • Seek the moral over the immoral
  • Seek the spiritual over the neutral

How will they know if they have succeeded in doing it?

  • Their desires should begin to shift to more healthy options and they should find that their inappropriate desires begin to wane.
  • More practically: They have something in mind that they are struggling with. List a few common things: Peer pressure, porn, hatred/anger issues, fornication, jealousy, envy. Ask them to think about one from the start, and then ask them at each step to find a way to make the process help them along.

What will motivate them to do it?

Freedom. Godliness. Intimacy with God. To know God better. To make life more meaningful. Overcome feelings of guilt, build a worthwhile life.
Reminder of the CPT: To overcome temptation, you must choose the right desires.

Possible Titles:

Small changes to bring greater intimacy with God
How to Win in Life

Combining all of the above, what is my CPS?

Win in life by learning to overcome temptation and pursue intimacy with God.
Win in life by learning to control your desires. (I like this one best because of its brevity.)


How do I want to approach it?
Quick rundown of the text–just say what it means without reading it at this point. I will go back and hit the highlights during the presentation.
CPS: Win in life by learning to control your desires.
  1. INTRO: We all want to win.
    • We need to take responsibility for our own lives and stop blaming others for our failings
    • That can be intimidating. I remember thinking that I just couldn’t help but sin at times. It was easier just to blame others. Some people even go as far as blaming God.
      1. God made me this way. Ever heard that one?
      2. Well, what about, “That’s just who I am.” Isn’t it saying about the same thing?
    • But you want to WIN. And God wants you to win also!
  2. Break down the text–I’ll show you how James tells us to do it, and it will change your life, so listen!
    • The way to lose in life–how to ensure the worst possible outcome:
      1. Do whatever you want. Don’t restrict yourself in anything. Go all out.
      2. Why is that so bad? Aren’t we taught that the answers are within? That we should be true to our feelings and desires? Here’s the problem with that:
        • (James 1:14-15) Desire-Conception-Sin-Death
        • The problem is, many times we don’t actually BELIEVE that death comes from sin.
          1. We get away with it and it does not hurt us
          2. Maybe there are sins that will get me killed, but not if I’m careful.
      3. There is more death out there than physical death.
        1. Some people are emotionally dead.
        2. Some are spiritually dead (and there is a difference).
        3. Ultimately, we’re talking about separation from God, but even before we see that reality, there are consequences of it in this world
          1. Worthlessness
          2. Depression
          3. Feeling trapped
          4. Unhappiness
          5. Fear
          6. These are all coming from bad places, not from God.
          7. Now you may have these feelings occasionally, but if it is constant, that’s a good indication that you need to make some kind of change. Why be miserable if you don’t have to be?
    • But looking at that pattern (Desire-conception-sin-death) we can begin to see that there ARE options. There ARE things we can do to change that course!
    • So we’re looking at 3 steps to change your life.
      1. Consider the options
      2. Seek the moral over the immoral
      3. Seek the spiritual over the neutral
I. Consider Your Options
  1. Your desires are the starting point of your troubles.
  2. You can change your desires
    • I know, you have been taught that it is not possible or that there is no need.
      1. “I can’t help how I am.”
      2. “The heart wants what the heart wants.”
    • But you CAN change what you desire.
      1. If you struggle with sexual sins or porn, you might think you will never see it as disgusting, but you can in time.
      2. If you struggle with jealousy, you might think you’ll never be satisfied with yourself, but you can be in time.
      3. It’s all a matter of TRAINING.
        • Dog who didn’t eat Greens
        • Believe it or not, you can learn to like almost anything. And that’s POWERFUL!!
    • Think: WHY am I desiring this?
      1. Desires come from NEEDS whether real or imagined.
      2. And this is where you start to change everything–when you realize this fact.
  3. Your needs determine your desires.
    • You do NOT have a need that is sinful. It is only sinful if met in a sinful way.
    • You HAVE NEEDS for a reason.
      1. James 1:18
      2. Acts 17:26-27
    • Unfortunately, we’ve often learned to meet our needs in ways that are ungodly
      1. Peers
      2. Adults who should know better but don’t
      3. Satan’s schemes
      4. A lack of imagination
  4. Now here’s the first step–Figure out your NEED and then ask, “What are my options here?”
    • 1 Corinthians 10:13–I used to not believe that verse.
    • James 1:5
II. Seek the Moral over the Immoral
  1. This is a choice we all must make.
  2. Dog that wouldn’t eat Greens.
  3. The key here is SEEKING.
  4. Once we figure out our real needs and what options we have to fill those needs, the next obvious step is to decide to seek the MORAL over the immoral.
  5. This is a matter of priority and it’s how we begin to change our habits.
  6. You have the need to have friends. What you choose to do to gain those friends can lead to all kinds of trouble, or it can lead to a healthy life.
  7. James 1:14 says we are enticed by our own desires.
  8. Desires themselves are not necessarily all evil. There are GOOD desires!
  9. When we desire appropriate ways to meet our needs, we will change our lives for the better.
  10. James 1:7-8 tells us that we have to be focused on what is right. We must choose to VALUE those GOOD desires, to nurture them within.
  11. Proverbs 2:1-5 –notice the verbs here.
  12. Proverbs 23:23,  “Buy the truth, and do not sell it, also wisdom and instruction and understanding.”
III. Seek the Spiritual over the NEUTRAL
(You thought I was going to say Seek the Spiritual over the Carnal or something like that.)
  1. We’ve always heard that there are two sides to morality–good and evil.
  2. This is true, but there’s another way to look at it.
  3. 2+2=4 Is that morally good or evil? NEUTRAL
  4. Are humans morally good or evil? Depends on the person, right?
  5. Is a hammer morally good or evil? Neither. It is INSTRUMENTALLY good or evil, but not within itself. It is neutral.
  6. There are decisions we make that are neither moral nor immoral. They are Amoral.
  7. Wearing socks is neither morally good nor morally evil.
  8. Using a sock to choke a person to death is morally evil. The killing is the evil, not the sock.
  9. Sinful desires give birth to sin. We must avoid that.
  10. Neutral actions do not give birth to sin, neither do they promote spiritual health and growth.
  11. SO we need to learn to VALUE the RIGHT things. That is, value what is morally GOOD to value.
  12. Let’s illustrate. You have a need for friendship. So you actually have 3 choices.
    • Morally evil choice. Find a gang and join them by killing people in the streets.
    • Going to school and saying hello to a class mate.
    • Going to school and inviting someone to Bible study.
    • Two choices avoid SIN, but ONE choice embraces SPIRITUALITY.
    • And that’s the point.
  13. You’ve been told all your life that if you want to be happy, stay away from SIN.
    1. That’s great advice because it’s true!
    2. But what we don’t realize at times that avoiding SIN is not the ONLY thing involved in happiness and fulfillment.
      1. You can avoid sin all your life, theoretically, and still not draw closer to God.
      2. The basis of this is to choose not just to avoid hurting others, but to choose LOVE.
      3. Some religions seek to avoid pain by detaching self from everything. Avoid pain. Empty self of all emotion and all attachments to this world.
      4. Christianity goes a step further.
      5. Hinduism and other Eastern religions say, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want to happen to you.”
      6. Jesus said, “DO to others what you would have others do to you.”
      7. The world says, “Avoid error and live contented and guilt-free.”
      8. Christianity says, “Avoid sin and pursue love.”
      9. GOD is LOVE.
      10. James 1:17-18–Christians are the result of a loving God.
      11. This is a life that WINS–not because we avoid all the pitfalls, but because we recognize that there is more to life than that!
      12. We recognize that life finds VALUE and MEANING in understanding that we are preparing for a FUTURE that is beyond this life.
      13. So Jesus said, “Lay up treasures for yourself in HEAVEN.”
      14. Live a life that will carry on beyond this one by avoiding sin and becoming more like God.
      15. You’ll find peace, happiness, and MEANING. in life

Conclusion: Win in life by learning to control your desires.

  1. Consider your options.
  2. Seek the MORAL over the IMMORAL
  3. Seek the SPIRITUAL over the NEUTRAL
This is the life Jesus spoke of when He said, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have LIFE, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

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