Today we will be looking at what James has to say about temptation. It is something Jesus faced and something we too face on a daily basis.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
This verse makes it very clear that God is not the one who tempts us. God tests us to strengthen our faith but He never tempts us to sin.
but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Verse 14 says we are tempted by our “own evil desires”. Paul talks a lot about the internal struggle we face between the desires of our flesh versus the desires of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. Our flesh tempts us to do what we want to do versus what the Lord would have us do.
It says we are “dragged away” and “enticed” by our evil desires. “These two verbs are taken from the sphere of fishing and hunting.” “James pictures man’s “evil desire,” first, as attracting his attention and persuading him to approach the forbidden thing and, second, as luring him by means of bait to yield to the temptation.”1
Isn’t that a great description of what happens when we are tempted. It like watching a small child touch something the have been told not to touch. They look at it, they approach it, they back up and the approach it again. They get a closer look and reach out, but draw their hand back and eventually they reach out and touch it.
When we succumb to the temptations of our flesh, we experience spiritual death, a separation of ourself from the Lord. Recognizing our sin as sin is so important because we won’t change what we don’t acknowledge. What sin in your life do you need to acknowledge and seek forgiveness and turn from today?
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
What a contrast James introduces in these verses. We have been looking at our own evil desires leading to sin and spiritual death, but oh how it changes when we look at the Lord. James refers to the Lord as “the Father of the heavenly lights”. He is our Father and He loves us and longs for us to turn from our sin the way we do with our own children. It hurts Him when we make the wrong choices just like we are hurt when our children or loved ones make the wrong choices. It is hard for us to sit back and watch someone we love heading down the wrong path and it is the same for the Lord. We try to lead and guide our loved ones and the Holy Spirit tries to lead and guide us. “Heavenly lights” is quite a contrast from the darkness of sin.
These verses remind us that every good thing we have comes from the Lord. What do you need to thank the Lord for today? What blessings do you have in your life you take for granted? Spend some time today looking at your attitude, words and actions. Do you see where you have been lured by your own evil desires to sin? Confess them and seek His forgiveness. Don’t let the sun go down today without seeking His forgiveness so that there is no distance between you and your Heavenly Father and than Him and praise Him for all your blessings!
- Scripture references from http://www.biblegateway.com
- 1 Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Zondervan