TEMPTATIONS CANNOT BE BLAMED ON GOD
James switches his focus from Trials sourced in our external circumstances to Temptations arising from sin within. These two can easily be related since our response to external Trials can unleash inner bitterness and rebellion that are problems of the heart.
Miano: “we’re going to talk about how we can recognize the opportunity for failure before the situation gets to the point that we’re left disappointed, looking back at our mistakes. That opportunity for failure begins with temptation.
I. (:13A) THE NATURAL EXCUSE (THE EASY WAY OUT) IS TO BLAME GOD
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God.'”
Man’s natural tendency is to try to shift the blame off on someone else. Cf. Adam in the garden blaming the woman “whom thou gavest to be with me”
– “God, you expect too much from me”
– “God, you have made things too difficult for me”
– “God, you have not given me the same grace and power to resist temptation that you have given others; this is just my temperament; I can’t help myself”
– “God, you created me this way”
II. (:13B) WHY CAN’T YOU BLAME GOD?
THESIS: His Righteous and Holy Character Sets Him Apart from Temptation
A. “God cannot be tempted by evil”
Problem: How do you reconcile the temptations of Christ with this statement?
He was fully God and yet perfect man. The temptations were real … and yet Christ could not sin …
1) God’s sufficiency means He “has no needs to be supplied” = the main way temptation gets a foothold
2) In God’s character there is no “weakness or bias on which evil may lay hold and act”
B. “He Himself does not tempt anyone.”
Problem: What about the Lord’s prayer: ‘Lead us not into temptation …’?”
Miano: “God cannot do or be that which is contrary to His character. Likewise, His actions are always consistent with His character. Since He is an untemptable God, He will not tempt anyone.
What we see here is one of God’s characteristics that set the one true God, the God of the Bible, apart from every other god. If we look at the gods of other religions, whether ancient or present, the character of these gods, in many ways, resembles the character of their followers. Take for instance the gods of Greek mythology. They were certainly an unseemly lot. They were prone to all of the sins and vices of common man. They were jealous in an unholy sense of the word. They were vindictive, lustful, and deceitful.
These false gods were temptable and evil.”
III. (:14) WHOM SHOULD YOU BLAME?
THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION = OUR OWN POWERFUL, SEDUCING LUST
A. Universal Problem / Personal Problem
“But each one”
Attacks each of us in different ways
B. Reality of Temptation
Expect temptation and be prepared to combat it.
C. Power and Seductive Nature of Temptation
“when he is carried away and enticed”
Wiersbe: “No temptation appears as temptation; it always seems more alluring than it really is. James used two illustrations from the world of sports to prove his point. Drawn away carries with it the idea of the baiting of a trap; and enticed in the original Greek means ‘to bait a hook.’ The hunter and the fisherman have to use bait to attract and catch their prey. No animal is deliberately going to step into a trap and no fish will knowingly bite at a naked hook. The idea is to hide the trap and the hook.”
Vaughan: “The suggestion is that man’s lust, like a harlot, entices and seduces him. Man surrenders his will to lust, conception takes place, and lust gives birth to sin.”
D. Ultimate Culprit
“by his own lust”
IV. (:15) LUST INITIATES A DEADLY CAUSE AND EFFECT SCENARIO —
LUST HAS THE POWER TO DRAG US DOWN INTO SIN AND DEATH
James develops the entire process of temptation and sin — showing how each stage bears a cause and effect relationship to the next stage
Holwick: “The lifecycle of sin”
A. Lust is only the Starting Point
“Then when lust has conceived”
B. Sin is its Natural Offspring
“it gives birth to sin”
C. Death is the Inevitable Outcome
“and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death”
V. (:16) DON’T BE FOOLED IN THIS MATTER
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
Don’t let the temptation entice and defeat you.
Remember God’s harvest principle: “As we sow, so shall we also reap.”
Remember that the Judge is watching all that we do and He is standing at the door ready to return and render judgment.
The foolish think that they can get away with something.
Live life with a healthy fear of the Lord.
Which way does this warning point … to the preceding verses or following verses?
Vaughan: “Applying it to the discussion of verses 13-15, the words may be understood as a warning against trying to excuse ourselves from responsibility for sin. If we see the words as pointing forward to verses 17, 18, they may be understood as a warning against casting suspicion upon the character of God… as the source of all good.”