The Crown of Life. “Blessed is the man that endures temptation, for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him.” (James 1:12) There are those I have spoken with over the years that have misunderstood this verse to mean that if you are saved, you get a crown of life, and though some have listened , as I myself had to also to the truth of the Word of God in this area, many have not. These five crowns we will be speaking about over the next few weeks are rewards earned, my friends, and salvation, life in Jesus Christ is not earned, it is a free gift. (Eph. 2:8-9)
This is why those who are incorrectly discerning the Scriptures in the area of the crowns have so much difficulty understanding the difference between works of the flesh and works of the Spirit. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” (Isa. 64:6) This Scripture is truth, but not in the way that those who deny we are to work for the crowns interpret it, for Isaiah speaks of the works that we attempt to do in our flesh. If you are truly saved and have spent the majority of your life seeking only the temporal, going to work every day, saving money for retirement, being polite to people, even helping the proverbial little old lady across the street and believe that you will receive a reward for these ‘good deeds,’ you are mistaken, for all of these and many more that we do each day are the chaff, and will be burned up. (Matt.3:12)
If your desire is to please the Lord in all that you do, then working for the Crowns mentioned in the Bible should be an important part of your walk with Him, and the Crown of Life is where we will begin. This sounds like an easy thing to accomplish, doesn’t it, just endure temptation and you get a Crown, no problem. Sure, right, no problem. Each of us like to believe that the temptations we go through are so specific to us that we must keep them discreet, just between God and us, for if anyone else found out, we would be ostracized from the fellowship. But therein is the quandary, for when we begin to experience the birth pangs of a temptation, as it were, are we not to first run to the Lord and then to our brothers and sisters in Christ? “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” (Gal.6:2)
This seems to be alright when we seek out those from the congregation to assist us in a burden that we are carrying, as long as it isn’t too personal, as long as it does not delve into the area of sexual desires, or personal trials that are taboo, so to speak, in the area of the planet that you live in, for then we are regulated to the pastor or trusted elder. This is where the church has failed miserably, everything that deals with anything outside of the normal is shoved over to the hierarchy of the church and not dealt with Scripturally, within the body of believers. You have noticed this I am sure in one way or another over the years, but I will give you a personal example.
I was once, like many millions of other men, and far too many brothers, and some sisters in Christ, addicted to pornography. This was of course carried over into my life with Christ from before he called me, and I fought with it for a very long time. The burden was becoming too great for me to handle, and I knew it was a great sin against God, so one day I prayed, earnestly. I promised the Lord that if He would take away the desire for the sin in my life in this area, I would completely stop a totally different sin I was committing at the same time. You know what He said? You first. That was well over a dozen years ago, and not once have my eyes strayed to this terrible sin, and when, even by accident I see something or think something I should not, I seek forgiveness.
But what about that other sin, that other temptation I spoke of, the one He said, “You first?” That, my friends is where I earned a Crown of Life, for the temptation is still there, occasionally, but I am enduring it, it is a burden I will carry my entire life, and when Our lord Jesus removes it on that day, He will replace it with a Crown of life.
God does not tempt any man, (James 1:13) so of course these temptations we are speaking of either come from the adversary, or from within our own selves. If from Satan, then they are allowed by our Lord to test us, and testing will either draw you to the Lord or away from Him, there are no other alternatives. As I mentioned earlier, these temptations, these urges, these ‘itches’ we feel we need to scratch, are not uncommon for “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man…” (1st Cor. 10:13) but just try bringing up in, say a men’s Bible study group that if anyone is having difficulty with the desire for pornography and the sin it entails, and that you have been there and are more than willing to help in any way they need, and see what happens. Heads look down at the table, eyes are diverted to something important on the other side of the room, throats are cleared, for we would not want to discuss these delicate things in the group would we, they should be only for one on one conversations and then always on the hush hush, as it were. Would you like to try to guess who did this very thing?
It is so sad, for if we as brothers and sisters in Christ bear each other’s burdens , walk through that dark and scary valley with them, we are assisting them in their pursuit of the Crown of life, for the next time a temptation occurs, they will better be able to endure it, and receive that glorious gift from the Lord our God, and cast it back where it belongs, at the feet of our Wonderful Savior.
In the old hymnal Rock of Ages, there is a line that we sing, “Nothing in my hands I bring, only to Thy cross I cling.” This is very true for our salvation in Christ, but, when you go to visit a friend for say, a dinner engagement, do you not bring a gift of some sort, some small thing that say’s “Thanks for inviting me.” What exactly are you planning on bringing with you when you see the face of Jesus our Lord for the first time, when He calls your name to come right up to His throne, what exactly were you planning on bringing him for a gift, just yourself? Are you starting to understand the importance of the opportunity that He has blessed us with in the Crowns? The Crown of Life is for those that persevere under temptation, who do not fall under its incredible weight, who seek the Face of God at it’s first impression for help.
The thief on the cross turned to Christ at the last moments of his life for salvation, and those simple words of belief were enough to grant him entrance into the Kingdom, but, I do not believe that his rewards could be compared to anything the Apostle Paul will receive.
“The Crown of Life is not salvation it is a reward. The Crown of Life is for those who suffer for Christ, one might lose all the Crowns, and yet not lose their salvation.” (1st Cor. 3:15) Henry A. Ironside
There are stipulations for those who will receive the Crown of Life, there are none for eternal salvation, it is a gift of God to all who will ask. The Crown of Life is given to those who endure, those who encounter and suffer through temptations without blaming God, those that know that everything that He allows to come into their lives is for his glory, and His glory is all that they ever seek.
Seek this Crown, my friends, seek it so you can give it back to its rightful owner.