Thursday, 13 June 2019
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. James 1:13
James continues on with the matter of temptation, as in a trial which could lead one to fall short of what is right. In such a situation, he says, “Let no one say.” Nobody has a right to do what he will state in this verse, and so no one should even think about uttering such a thing, thus bringing such a false accusation towards God. The state in which he is referring to is “when he is tempted.” The word signifies to make proof of something. It can be a test or a temptation, and it is the context which determines which is being referred to. In this case, it is speaking of being tempted. In such a case, the person should not say, “I am tempted by God.”
The idea of being tempted is to allure one away from what is right. The sense of the Greek is “from God,” not “by God.” In other words, it is not speaking of God directly tempting someone, but rather by any type of temptation which could proceed from God. Matthew 4:1 makes this evident –
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
God will not be the active source of temptation. This doesn’t mean that temptation may not come, but it is not within the working of God to actively say, “I will tempt this person into sin.” Rather, the coming verse will show us where the source of that temptation lies. For now, James simply goes on to show that it is impossible for God to tempt someone with the words, “for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”
Albert Barnes states, “The object seems to be to show that, in regard to the whole matter of temptation, it does not pertain to God.” There is nothing in God that would actively bring such a thing about. As the Creator, He is incapable of being tempted because all things are from Him and belong to Him; there is nothing by which He can be tempted. He is perfectly complete in Himself. The fact that temptations exist does not mean that they are a part of His intentions for us. This, however, does not mean that they are not unknown to Him. What is certain is that if the will of God is followed exactingly, then being seduced by temptation is excluded; it can be completely overcome.
For example, in the Garden of Eden, there was enough abundance that Adam and Eve could have gone on forever and ever without being tempted. Instead, they were tempted, but it was not by God. If they had stuck to His word, they would still be in Eden and enjoying their lives there today. As noted, how temptation is brought forth will be explained by James in his words to come.
Life application: We can’t blame God when we fall into sin – no matter what type of sin or what severity the sin is. Our temptation is not from God. Despite this, God is active in keeping us from greater temptation than we can bear –
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
The source and the objects of our temptation are no greater than any other people experience. In addition to this, God always provides a way out of our temptation – such as when Joseph was tempted by Potipher’s wife. Therefore, if we fail to respond correctly and instead act on our inappropriate desires, we really only have ourselves to blame.
If you are being tempted by something right now, the best thing for you to do is to trust in God, pray for His help, and find the exit which the Bible promises God has already provided. Trust Him and His promises, and never accuse Him of being the One who has stirred up your evil desires.
Lord God, You word reminds us of our struggles. From it, we know what we should do, but we also know the temptations that we constantly face. Open our eyes to the avenue of exit You have already provided for us when such times arise, and keep us from the sins which will surely result when we act upon our temptations. Strengthen us according to Your great mercy. Amen.