James – Tuesday, March 10
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
It would be wrong and even blasphemous to suggest that God tempts the believer. That is not His way, and it is certainly not part of His character. He is our loving Father, who knows how to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11; Luke 11:13).
How then does temptation take place? What is the anatomy of a temptation? Today’s passage makes these things clear for us. There is something inside of us—in our flesh—which can be lured into transgression. The basic desires that we all possess are natural, God-given desires—and are neutral by themselves (e.g. the desire for food, sex, significance, excitement).
These desires have the potential to become sinful, if we can be induced to fulfill them apart from God or apart from His ways or timing. For example, we must wait for marriage for sex. Why? Because it’s the only relationship that can handle the realities and mysteries of sexual expression. Therefore, fornication is sinful (illicit sex outside of the bonds of marriage). It is sinful because it’s bad for us—it’s not bad because it’s sinful.
Another example is from the life of Jesus. He was hungry at the end of the wilderness temptations, but the devil wanted Him to satisfy His hunger outside of the Father’s timing and will. Satan wanted Jesus to turn the stones into bread without waiting for the Father’s provision. That is the basic principle behind our temptations as well.
If we allow ourselves to be drawn away by these enticements, something will happen inside of us, and eventually we will commit sin. If sin is allowed to continue, then death will be the result. This death will most definitely be spiritual (the absence of the qualities of Divine life), and maybe even physical.
Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions
1. What natural desires do you have in your life presently, which are not being fulfilled? Have you experienced temptation to do something to fulfill these desires yourself, apart from the Father’s direction or provision? If so, how has that temptation come to you?
2. What are the means the Lord has provided to us that reduce the power of temptation in our lives?
3. Read Matthew 6:13, Proverbs 14:16, and Proverbs 22:3. In what specific ways should we defend ourselves against temptation, according to these verses?