Jamesby Douglas Estes
When we encounter trials and temptations in life, we may wonder if it is God who tempts us in order to test us. Perhaps all the struggles we face start with Him?
James leads off with a clear response: God is not tempting you. To explain, he walks his readers through the origin and process of temptation in the life of believers.
There are two things we need to know about God. First, He ″cannot be tempted by evil″ (James 1:13). In other words, the evil in this world has no sway or effect on Him. God is good, and He cannot deviate from His goodness. Second, God does not tempt anyone. Since He is good all the time without deviation, there is no evil which He can use to tempt people. It is outside the nature of God to tempt people. He is unable to do it.
Yet temptation does occur in a believer's life. James tells us that temptation starts with our ″own evil desire″ (v. 14). This is important: Our temptations in life start with us longing for something. When we see something we are tempted by, we may think that the temptation comes from outside of ourselves-from the object of our desire-but it does not. It comes from the inside. Once the longing is created in our hearts, we are ″dragged away″ by its power and ″enticed″ (v. 14). We create the temptation in our hearts that we are subsequently enslaved to!
James uses the image of childbirth to illustrate how temptation grows. Once desire has started, it continues to grow within us; and it becomes sin when we start acting on it. Once this sin has a place in our lives, it will continue to hurt us until it consumes us. This is the process by which temptation can lead to our downfall and defeat as believers, if it is left unchecked.
God is not a tempter, but we are. We tempt others and we also tempt ourselves. This temptation-to-sin cycle, if not broken, will consume us and destroy us. Implied in James' warning is the means to break this cycle: recognise where the temptation is coming from, and block it in our hearts before it takes root. Since God is not tempted and is greater than us, He can help us with our temptations-we should be turning to Him if we are single-minded about overcoming temptation!
Think about the things you want. How might these wants lead to temptation?
How can we guard our lives from temptation?