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Two Types of Temptations

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Two Types of Temptations (James 1:2- 17)

1.    Holy Trials (verses 2 -12)

a.     Possible sinful responses

b.    Rebellion/defiance  (Hebrews 12:5)

c.     Fatalism/giving up (Hebrews 12:5)

d.    Self Pity (1 Corinthians 10:10)

e.     Positive response (we can be exercised by the difficulties and perplexities of life (Heb_12:11)

f.      These verse instruct us on the way to glorify God as we handle the trials that God Himself has designed to mature us in the faith.

2.    Unholy Temptations (verses 13-17)

1:13   (Read) When we are tempted to sin, the temptation does not come from God. God does test or try men, as far as their faith is concerned, but He never tempts a man to commit any form of evil. He Himself has no dealings with evil, and He does not entice to sin.

1:14   Man is always ready to shift responsibility for his sins. If he cannot blame God, he will adopt an approach of modern psychology by saying that sin is a sickness. In this way he hopes to escape judgment. But sin is not a sickness; it is a moral failure for which man must give account. Sin does not originate there. James tracks the lion to its den when he says: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” Sin comes from within us, from our old, evil, fallen, unregenerate nature. Jesus said, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Mat_15:19).

The word James uses for desires in verse 14 could refer to any form of desire, good or evil. The word itself is morally neutral. But with few exceptions it is used in the NT to describe evil desires, and that is certainly the case here. Lust is likened to an evil woman here parading her allurements and enticing her victims. Every one of us is tempted. We have vile lusts and impure appetites constantly urging us on in sin. Are we helpless victims then, when we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed? No, we may expel all thoughts of sin from our mind and concentrate on subjects that are pure and holy (Phi_4:8). Also in the moment of fierce temptation, we may call on the Lord, remembering that “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run to it, and are safe” (Pro_18:10).

1:15   If that is so, why then do we sin? Here is the answer: Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. Instead of expelling the vile thought, we may encourage, nourish, and enjoy it. This act of acquiescence is likened to sexual intercourse. Lust conceives and a hideous baby named SIN is born. Which is another way of saying that if we think about a forbidden act long enough, we will eventually do it. The whole process of lust conceiving and bringing forth sin is vividly illustrated in the incident of David and Bathsheba (2Sa_11:1-27).

And sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death, says James. Sin is not a barren, sterile thing; it produces a brood of its own. The statement that sin produces death may be understood in several ways. First of all, the sin of Adam brought physical death on himself and on all his posterity (Gen_2:17). But sin also leads to eternal, spiritual death—the final separation of the person from God and from blessing (Rom_6:23 a). There is a sense also in which sin results in death for a believer. For instance, in 1Ti_5:6 we read that a believing widow who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives. This means that she is wasting her life and utterly failing to fulfill the purpose for which God saved her. To be out of fellowship with God is for a Christian a form of living death.

1:16, 17   It is not unusual for people who fall into sin to blame God instead of themselves. They say, in effect, to their Creator, “Why have you made me this way?” But this is a form of self-deception. Only good gifts come from God. In fact, He is the source of every good and every perfect gift.

James describes God as the Father of lights. In the Bible the word Father sometimes has the meaning of Creator or Source (see Job_38:28). Therefore God is the Creator or Source of lights. But what is meant by lights? Certainly it includes the heavenly bodies—the sun, moon, and stars (Gen_1:14-18; Psa_136:7). But God is also the Source of all spiritual light as well. So we should think of Him as the Source of every form of light in the universe. With whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. God is unlike the heavenly bodies He has created. They are undergoing constant changes. He never does. Perhaps James is thinking not only of the declining brilliance of the sun and stars, but also of their changing relation to the earth as our planet rotates. Variableness characterizes the sun, moon, and stars. The expression shadow of turning may mean shadow caused by turning. This could have reference to the shadows cast on earth by the rotation of the earth around the sun. Or it could refer to eclipses. A solar eclipse, for instance, is produced when the moon's shadow falls on the earth. With God it is quite different; there is no variableness in Him, or shadow caused by turning. And His gifts are as perfect as Himself. Therefore it is unthinkable that He would ever entice man to sin. Temptation comes from man's own evil nature.

Let us test our faith on the subject of unholy temptations. Do we encourage evil thoughts to linger in our minds, or do we expel them quickly? When we sin, do we say that we couldn't help it? Do we blame God when we are tempted to sin?

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