Peace Beloved in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I trust that you are walking closely with Christ is these difficult days in which we are living. Christ alone is the ark of our salvation. He keeps us safe in the flood waters of sin and shame.
Today we are in the book of James. I think it has been a few weeks since our last study. Things have been a bit busy at the church lately. This is our sixth study.
Please take out your Bibles. I will read James 1:1-15. We will examine James 1:13-15 on the subject of temptation to sin. Hear the holy word of God. Read.
James 1:1. James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. 2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8 being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. 9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. 12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Let’s go to God and ask His help in His word today. Pray.
James under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit has previously written on enduring painful testing and trials. (James 1:2, 12) And those tests and trials often comes to us in unexpected forms.
I mention this because some of us are more equipped to handle certain kinds of trials better than other trial, or we think we are. But often the kind of trial that comes to us is a kind that we do not expect and perhaps we are not ready for.
For example, perhaps we (think) we could sustain by faith in Christ a measure of physical pain or even financial pain. But could we sustain a trial in our marriage relationship? Or in our relationship with our children? What about enduring reproach for being a Christian by our family and friends? Can we endure this with joy in the Lord?
Also, James is inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak of trial(s) in the plural. It is not uncommon for the Lord to test and refine our faith in Christ and in His Word by sending multiple trials to us as the same time. These things overwhelm our natural capacities and thus throw us wholly upon the Lord.
But how many of us that love the Lord have not responded with graced joy at a trial? How many of us when God was testing and refining our faith in Jesus by some painful thing have failed the test? I mean, that we have not responded in a Christ-pleasing way, or in a Biblical way, but rather we gave vent to deeds of the flesh? (Gal.5:18-26, Rom.7:7-25, James 4:1, I Pt.2:11)
My guess is that all of us have come up short on many occasions regarding the testing of our faith.
This is why James here writes this next section – do not be tempted to sin. In other words, this is the negative counterpart to consider all trials joy. When you are undergoing a trial of your faith do not be tempted to sin. God tests us. Do not fail the test. If we give in to sin when we are in the crucible of spiritual instruction, then we will not benefit from the trial. (Heb.12:1-10)
We could also say that the trials come from outside of us. And the temptations come from inside of us. I know that in one sense there are outward things that tempt us to sin, but giving in to that temptation is an inner thing. Sins come from the heart as Jesus says in Matthew 15:18-19.
We have said in previous lessons that the Greek word here for “testing” or “trials” is the same root word also translated “tempted”, the context indicates the meaning whether it is used positively or negatively. (peirasmos, peirazo)
The context of the “trials” is that Holy God is making us more practically holy like Christ by the trials. Conversely, “temptation” provokes us to sin, un-holiness, law-breaking, being un-Christlike.
So, the temptation is a temptation unto sin, to all sin. Inward sin, sin in the heart and mind. Outward sin. Sin in the word and the deed. Remember that sin is lawlessness. (I Jn.3:4, Sin is either not doing what God requires or doing what God forbids. (WSC 14) All sin deserves God’s wrath and curse both in this life and in the next. (Ps.89:30-32, WSC 84)
Christ has died to save us from our sins. So, giving in to sin is contrary for the purposes of Christ in our life. (2 Cor.5:21, Rom.6:23, Rev.1:8)
I believe this subject is especially necessary in the modern American church. We live in a day and an age that diminishes sin. And this thinking corrupts the people of God.
The world, the unbelieving world, blinded by the devil are doing the works of their fallen-father, they call evil good and good evil.
Isaiah 5:20. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil ; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!
The world makes sin a laughing matter. The world laughs about sin, and especially about sexual sins homosexuality, adultery, prostitution, fornication. Remember the Bible says they all lead to death.
Faithless and unbelieving pastors preach peace-peace to people living in sin.
When God says do not preach peace to them. (Jer.6:14) God says, there is no peace for the wicked saith the LORD. (Isa.48:22)
Beloved, let’s take temptation to sin very serious. Remember the Cross. Walk by faith and not by sight.
Let’s look at various lessons God has for us in this passage.
The cause – negatively considered.
Stated – God does not tempt us to sin.
The first rule he gives is when we are tempted to sin do not blame God for it. In other words, do not say God is tempting me to sin.
James 1:13. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
We can speak back to God.
The first person to blame God for (supposedly) tempting him to sin was Adam! The very first human being! Created by God perfect in a perfect environment. How long did Adam remain in his perfect sinless estate? We do not know. But we do know that by Genesis 3:1-8 that Adam listened to the voice of his wife to eat the forbidden fruit as she listened to the voice of the Satan to eat the forbidden fruit. (I Tim.2:14)
Adam failed his test. Adam did not obey the voice of his God in all things. (Gen.2:16-17) In the day of his testing Adam gave in to sin. And having given in to his first sin he further sinned by blaming perfect holy good God for it! Stunning. Such is the sinfulness of sin or the evil of evil. (Prov.19:3, Rom.9:20, Eccl.7:29, Job 1:20-22, I Cor.10:12, Rom.8:28, Isa.55:9)
Here is how Adam seeks to vindicate himself for his sin by indicting God for it.
Genesis 3:9. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
We can grumble against God.
Men can blame God openly as Adam did.
But we can also blame God in covert ways when we give in to temptation to sin under some trial. For example, we can get angry at God at His providence in our life. For allowing the various circumstances. We can sulk or pout or grumble and gripe. But someone may say, I “am” mad at my painful trial, but I am not mad at God. Beloved think. Since God governs all His creations and all their actions then our sinful grumbling is blaming God. (Dt.8:7-20, WSC 7, 8, 11) Plus all grumbling is sin. (WLC 147-148)
We can misrepresent God.
Men can also misuse the sovereignty of God or His eternal decree to blame God for their sin. For example, we can say, God made me this way, with this inclination to sin, so I have to sin. Or men can use the election of God to say something like this, God did not elect me, therefore I have to sin. (Rom.9:18-20, WCF 3.8)
Or some say, if or since God is all sovereign that means that God “is” the source of evil.
They say, if God is not the author of sin then where did it come from? This is known as “the Problem of Evil”.
I admit, the question is beyond my full comprehension. But we yield our thinking, not to our own fallen ability to reason but to the clear word of Scripture. And then, by faith, knowing what may appear irreconcilable to us, is fully reconcilable to the mind of God.
The Bible says God is holy and has no sin and that He hates sin. (I Pt.1:16, Isa.6:3, Rev.4:8, Isa.43:15, Hab.1:13, Rev.15:4, I Jn.3:5, I Pt.2:2, 2 Cor.5:21, Lk.1:35)
God created all things. He is the Primary Cause of all things. He created real secondary causes by which things ordinarily come to pass. God is not culpable for the sin of the moral creature; the moral creature is. And there we leave it. The pot has no right to question The Potter. (Dt.29:29, WCF 3.1-8, WCF 5.1-7, Isa.45:9, Rom.9:14-24, Jer.18:1-9)
Tests to refine our faith are from God. Temptations to sin against God are not from God.
The cause – negatively considered.
Proved – The nature of God prohibits God from tempting.
James continues speaking on the nature of God and why He cannot tempt us to sin during our trials.
James 1:13. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
It is important that God uses this Greek word to describe sin. The Greek word here for sin is kakos. It means evil, bad, wrong, injurious, foul, and loathsome.
As we said earlier, God is perfect, pure, and holy and impeccable and immutable. Nothing bad can be attributed to the One who is Infinitely Good. So, God cannot be influence by evil. God is utterly separated from evil.
And the Bible says clearly that God does not tempt people to sin.
The cause – positively considered. The external agents.
Now to clear up a potential question. Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer. And here we will see an external agent that does tempt us to sin, namely The Tempter.
Matthew 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Lk.11:4)
Satan and the Satan-led world tempts us to sin.
Christ means, that we have to ask God to keep us from temptation. And the One that does the tempting to sin is The Tempter himself, Satan. (Rev.12:9, Gen.3:1-5, Lk.22:31, I Tim.3:7, 2 Tim.2:26, Acts 5:3)
Listen to God’s word.
Matthew 4:3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.
1 Thessalonians 3:5 For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain.
But we cannot say that the devil made me do it!
We cannot say, Biblically, the devil forced me to sin against God. No. The devil cannot force a free agent to go against his moral will or his nature.
The devil can and does entice, promise, threaten, and or scare us to give in to his suggestions to disobey the word of God and to follow his word.
One commentator wrote these insightful words talking about the work of the Evil One.
Next to the lust of sex, he puts a suggestive picture. Dwell on it! Next to the lust to steal, he puts an unguarded residence. Burglarize it! Next to the lust of self-pity, he puts a disappointment. Succumb to it! Next to the lust of pride, he puts a shady opportunity of a life-time. Go for it! Next to the lust for anger, he puts an insult. Get even!
The cause – positively considered. The internal agent.
Our flesh wants to yield to the temptation to sin.
However, I would say that our fallen flesh tempts us to sin more than Satan does.
James 1:14. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
Think of this. The natural man, the unbeliever cannot please God. (Heb.11:6, Eph.2:1-3, Rom.8:7, I Cor.2:14-16, 2 Cor.2:15-16)
Spiritually, they are dead in their sins and trespasses and by nature they are children of darkness and wrath, and they are under the dominion of the devil.
But Believers are not this creature any longer. In Christ we are new creatures. (Jn.3:1-6, Rom.8:14-16, 2 Cor.5:17-21)
But even as true Believers in Christ we still have the corrupt flesh. Our fallen flesh still wants to sin. (Rom.7:7-25) Our flesh wants to appear right in our own eyes. (Prov.16:2)
Our Flesh looks for someone else to blame for our sin. Here are instances of one Believer and two unbelievers doing this.
Aaron tried to shift the blame off of himself and on to the people for making the golden calf. (Exod.32:23-24)
King Saul tried to shift the blame off himself and on to his army, for not destroying the Agagites. (I Sam.15:15-24)
Pontius Pilate tried to shift the blame off of himself and on to the Jewish people, for murdering Jesus. (Mt.27:24)
Sometimes when people get angry they curse and swear, they say if you did not get me angry I would not have cursed and swore.
This was no defense to the man in Leviticus that got into a fight with another man and in the heat of the fight he took the name of the Lord in vain. For which, he bore his own penalty. (Lev.24:10) The circumstances did not alleviate or nullify our sin.
Each one is tempted. No Christian is exempt from being tempted to sin.
I Peter 2:11. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (Gal.5:17, Jas.4:1, Rom.7:14-25)
Even true Believers can talk ourselves into sin, that it is OK or reasonable to do something contrary to God’s word. (Jer.17:9)
As Believers we have to watch our hearts very carefully. We have to seek by God’s grace our continual sanctification. We know, our hearts still have evil thoughts, hateful thoughts, immoral thoughts, covetous thoughts and the like. (Mt.15:19)
When WE sin – WE are to blame. (Ezek.33:11)
The right course of action when we are tempted to sin.
First, own our own sin before God. Do not try to excuse ourselves.
Psalm 32:5 I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin.
Now a word here. Some people are prone to feeling guilty for things they have not done. These are the people that are quick to indict themselves and ask people to forgive them.
Often these are the targets of those kind of people that do not want to own their own sin, but they shift the blame to the tender-hearted Christian.
Here, I would council, pray and search the Scripture. And go slow.
It is OK to sleep on something for a day or two, or three or four. Easier said than done for these kind of people – I know. Ask God if you are at fault. Ask the counsel of a godly and wise and empathetic person that knows you, and that knows the situation/sin in question.
One commentator said,
Do not sin trying to vindicate yourself from the slander of evil men. Time will tell what is in the womb, what kinds of birds are in the eggs. The disguises of all hypocrites will eventually come off. (Ps.36:2, Prov.26:26, I Tim.5:25)
Matthew 6:13 And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 abstain from every form (or appearance) of evil.
The warning – the growth.
The last thing that we should consider about temptation to sin is the growth of sin. This is here to frighten us – in a good and a holy way.
James 1:15. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Thomas Manton says death is modestly put for, damnation. The wages of sin is the second-death. (Rom.6:23)
James wants us to look at every sin, even the small sins as containing death separation from God. Engaging in any sin no matter how small (currently) is like walking on a tightrope over eternal hell.
Why would we who have been saved from sin and hell live in it any longer.
Beloved, resist temptation, resist the devil. Draw near to God. Stay close to Christ. Be frequent in prayer. Live in God’s word. (I Cor.10:13) Someday we will be in a place free of all temptation and sin. Even so Lord Jesus come quickly.
- What are some common tests or trials that we experience as Believers in Christ? Who sends the trials? What is the purpose of the trial? What is being tested? How do we benefit from the trials or tests? (James 1:1-12, I Pt.5:10, Rom.12:12, Jn.16:33, I Cor.10:13, Rom.5:3, Exod.14:14, Phil.4:6-7, Rom.8:18, 28, Phil.4:13, I Pt.1:6)
- What is the difference between a test and a temptation? What is temptation, temptation to do what? Define sin. (Jas.1:13-15, Lk.22:40, Jn.8:6, Mt.6:13, Lk.11:4, Lk.4:13, I Jn.3:4, WSC 14, Mt.15:15-18)
- What does all sin deserve? Do you believe this? How should this affect us practically? (Ps.89:30-32, WSC 84, WLC 152, James 2:10-11, Exod. 20:1-2, Hab.1:13, 1 John 3:4, Rom.6:23, Rom.7:12, Gen.2:16-17, Eph.5:6, Gal. 3:10 , Lam.3:39, Deut.28:15, Mt. 25:41, Heb.9:22, 1 Pet.1:18-19)
- What does the unbelieving world think about sin? How does our society view what God’s calls sin? Does the unbelieving view of sin from our culture affect the church and Christians? If so, how? In what ways? (Isa.5:20, Jer.6:14, Isa.48:22, Prov.14:9, Heb.11:25, Isa.5:22, Prov.4:16, 2 Cor.6:14-18)
- In what ways can the pains of a trial be the occasion for us to be tempted to sin? For example, say God is refining our faith by some sickness, how could the pains of that sickness be the occasion whereby we give in to sin? Think type of trial, intensity, number, and duration in relationship with temptation.
- When we are tempted to give in to sin is God tempting us? How did Adam blame God for his temptation to sin and his actual committal of sin? Who else did Adam blame? Is blame-shifting common? Is it itself sin? Why do we do it? (James 1:13-15, Gen.3:1-15, I Tim.2:14, Gen.2:16-17, Prov.19:3, Rom.9:20, Eccl.7:29, Job 1:20-22, I Cor.10:12, Rom.8:28, Isa.55:9, Prov.16:2, Exod.32:23-24, I Sam.15:15-24, Mt.27:24, Lev.24:10)
- Is grumbling while in a time or trial or testing actually giving in to the temptation to sin? How is this an “indirect” accusation against God? (I Cor.10:1-13, Dt.8:7-20, WSC 7, 8, 11, WLC 147-148)
- What about the nature and works of God makes it impossible for Him to tempt us to sin? (James 1:13-15, (2 Cor.5:21, Rom.6:23, Rev.1:8, I Pt.1:16, Isa.6:3, Rev.4:8, Isa.43:15, Hab.1:13, Rev.15:4, I Jn.3:5, I Pt.2:2, 2 Cor.5:21, Lk.1:35)
- In what ways can the devil and the devil led world tempt us to sin? (Mt.6:13, Lk.11:4, Rev.12:9, Gen.3:1-5, Lk.22:31, I Tim.3:7, 2 Tim.2:26, Acts 5:3, Mt.4:1-10, I Thess.3:5)
- In what ways can our own corrupt flesh tempt us to sin? What should we do about this? Sin grows. How should this affect us? (James 1:13-15, I Pt.2:11-12, Gal.5:17, Jas.4:1, Rom.7:14-25, Ps.32:5, I Cor.10:13, I Thess.5:22)