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James teaches us how to deal with temptation

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Today’s bible study is James 1:13-15: When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

We are all tempted. It is part of being human. Hardly a day goes by when we are not tempted in at least small ways: eating a bit too much, spending a bit too much, buying a piece of clothing we do not really need, or getting frustrated and angry when we know we shouldn’t. And, when we give in to temptation, as we surely will do, we are only being the faulty humans that God created us to be. We are tempted, we act upon our temptation, and then repent for having to done so. It is continual cycle.

But, have we ever thought about who or what was tempting us? Was it God tempting us to stop and wish for those designer shoes in the store window? Was it God tempting me to take a second look at a nice looking man and smiling? Was it God tempting us to walk through the store and pick up that chocolate bar and bottle of wine? No. It was not God. God does not lead us into temptation. So who does? Today we will look to the bible to answer this and more.

Test or trial and temptation translate as the same word, and context determined the translation. The introduction of desire, sin, evil and deception has led modern bible translations to use the word temptation even though the test or temptation remains unspecified. The one who endures received a blessing that is the crown of life.

James rejects the excuse that God is the source of temptation. God is neither the source nor the object of temptation. The source is in human desire. The word desire may carry sexual overtones, but not necessarily. It can also be translated as covet or desire to possess. James, however, does find sexual desire an appropriate image to characterize the downward slide of the one who does not endure.

First God is blamed, then desire, the real culprit, conceives and gives birth to sin, and finally sin, when it has fully matured, gives birth to death.

This is both difficult and thought-provoking. Is it any wonder that we so often pray the words taught by our Lord: Lead us not into temptation?

References: The People’s New Testament Commentary by M. Eugene Boring and Fred B. Craddock and The MacArthur Bible Commentary by John MacArthur.

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