Editorial

The Mechanism of Sin and Temptation
(James 1:12-18)


In the first chapter of the book of James, verses 12 - 18, James writes, "Blessed {is} the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 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. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures."

This text is one of my favorites in the entire book of James. And it is characteristic of the entire book. James takes a very difficult concept that was much misunderstood in his time, and is may I add very misunderstood today, and presents the truth concerning that concept with clarity and simplicity. I can't imagine anyone misunderstanding what he has written in this passage, if they take the time to examine closely his reasoning.

Verse twelve of our passage deals with an idea that James mentioned earlier in the chapter, in verses 2-4 of the passage. Notice the second verse, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials," Now on the surface this seems to be a peculiar statement, and the same could be said of James statement in verse twelve where he writes, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation..." I don't believe that any Christian looks with joy or happiness upon a coming trial or temptation. Both the idea of suffering some tribulation or difficulty, and the idea of being subjected to a temptation of spirit, on the surface bear negative connotations. Why then does James say to "Count it all joy", or call a man "Blessed" if he is to suffer these unfortunate circumstances? It is not that the circumstances themselves are positive, but rather the individual's reaction to these circumstances. In our text, a man is blessed when he is beset by temptation, because, when he has been proven faithful through resisting that temptation, he will receive the crown of life.

This crown has been promised to the faithful by our Lord, and the promise is repeated many times. One example of this is the Lord's statement recorded in Matthew 10:22, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved." Anyone who has studied the Word of God knows the faithfulness of that promise. Men are fickle and many times disappoint us by promising great things, but not delivering on the promise. However, you can rest assured that a Christian who proves his fidelity to his Master by withstanding trials and temptations during his life of service will have that crown and an eternity to enjoy it with the Lord.

Now, our text brings us to the misunderstood concept we just mentioned. That is, how does temptation work, and what is God's part in temptation and sin. I say that this is misunderstood, and I believe a cursory look at our society today bears me out. There is a great deal of evil and immorality in this world today, and coupled together with the heartache, pain and despair you see shows the world to be less than an ideal place. The amazing thing about this all is man's reaction to the situation.

The athiest uses the condition of the world as an arguement against the existence of God. They reason, if God truly existed then man's existence on this earth would be idyllic, instead of filled with so much unpleasantness.

The Homosexual and pervert excuses his abomination by saying that he was made to be that way by the Creator. And might I add that such a blasphemous statement turns my stomach. The very fact that Homosexuals and Lesbians can not produce offspring show that the lifestyle is not an alternative one, but rather depraved and unnatural. To saddle the Omnipotent, Omniscient Creator with the blame for this perversion is utterly ridiculous and shows a total lack of respect for His position as our Father.

The religionist claims that a man is predestined from before birth to walk a life of either righteousness or sin, thus taking a man's choice to do good or evil completely away. How can any man who claims to believe in a Just and Merciful God ever believe that He would predestine a man's life, and condemn him to an eternity to hell without giving him a means of escape? Listen to what Peter had to say about this matter, in 2 Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning {His} promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." How different the God of the Bible from the one painted by the Religious Calvinist, with his doctrine of Predestination.

And finally, just about everyone in time of personal tragedy or severe spiritual weakness has said, "Why me God, why are You doing this to me?...Or, Why are you letting this happen to me?" I have heard many denominational preachers and spiritual leaders make emotional appeals and explanations dealing with "God's Will". As in it is God's will sometimes that we suffer in this way, or it is God's will that a loved one be taken. It is no wonder that so many misunderstand and have no relief from their pain and suffering. To think that the One they Serve and place their faith in might wish for them to suffer almost unbearably is difficult to take.

I believe there is a great deal of comfort to be taken from the truth of the matter as revealed here in James' epistle. The truth is: GOD DOESN'T WISH THIS PAIN ON YOU. IN FACT, HE HAS NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH IT. WHEN TEMPTATION AND TRIAL BESET US IT IS THE COMBINED WORK OF MAN AND SATAN. GOD'S PART HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TEMPTATION AND SIN AT ALL. God's part is found in relieving the pain, strengthening the weak, and rewarding the faithful. And I find a great deal more comfort in this characteristic of God as revealed in the Bible.

Listen to what James says, James 1:13 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."

Here James reveals why God can have no part in temptation. Because of His goodness, he can have no part in causing another to do evil. Paul addressed this in the book of II Corinthians, chapter 6, verses 14-16, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God..." You can see from this text that the Father and the Son have nothing to do with evil at all, and this is a good lesson for us today. If God has nothing to do with evil, we who are claiming allegiance to Him, must have nothing to do with it either. Paul touched upon this idea in another passage, when he wrote in Galatians chapter 5, verses 16-18, "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." The flesh and the Spirit are contrary to one another. There is a great conflict between the two, a war, they are direct enemies.

So, lets put this in more concrete terms. A drunk driver plows into a family, and a young child is killed. The family is understandably devastated by such a blow. My question is this, how can it bring comfort for them to be told, "It is God's will that he be taken. Or, God had another purpose for him."? Please understand that God does not wish that family to suffer in that way. He is outraged at the evil which caused this terrible misfortune. He is saddened by the great grief suffered by the family. He is abhorred by the evil, and resulting pain and suffering that goes on every day in this world. To say that it was God's will that child died would make the drunk driver, in his sin, an instrument of God, which violates the very principle of our text this morning. No, God is not to be blamed for the pain in this world, and we would do well to put the blame where it really belongs. And that is exactly what James does here in the text.

Notice the final part of our text one more time. Beginning in verse 14 we read, "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren." Here we see the true circumstances which lead to sin. And perhaps you can understand why it is so wrong to blame it on God. God has no part in it at all. The fault lies with man, with a little help from the Prince of the Air, Satan.

But notice for a moment the steps which lead to sin. It begins with the desires of man. We want something that is illicit, that is, it is unacceptable in the eyes of God. Then Satan's work comes in. He supplies an enticement. Dangles it in front of our eyes much as we would a carrot in front of a stubborn donkey. When you couple together desire with the enticement, you have temptation. Then, when the desire has conceived, or resulted in action taken, you have sin. Of course, you nowhere see God's hand in any of this. Only that of sinful man, with a helping hand from Satan. An example of this process is found in the early part of man's history in the Garden of Eden.

God had commanded Adam and Eve to refrain from eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. However, Eve, and later Adam, desired fruit from the tree because it looked good, and they believed it would make them wise. Why did they believe this? Because Satan was there with his half-truths and deceptions. He enticed them with stories of knowledge, and equality with God. As a result of their combined efforts, sin entered into the world...AND DEATH. Notice what Paul stated in I Corinthians 15, verses 21 and 22, "For since by man {came} death, by Man also {came} the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive."

Of course, this is exactly what James is pointing out. Desire and enticement bring forth temptation, which when conceived brings forth sin, and finally sin leads to the culmination of the process, DEATH.

The principle of death as mentioned here in this text is both physical and spiritual. As a result of Adam's sin, physical death entered into the world. They were banished from the Garden of Eden, and the immortality granted them by the Tree of Life. All who live on this earth will die, and this will remain true until Christ comes again. However, the spiritual death intimated here by James is much more serious. Spiritual death is Separation from God. And without the new birth which comes through obedience to His word, the death will be for an eternity.


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