Today's Verse

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Moral Responsibility: James 1:13

We've been studying James, a book about the evidences of faith in our lives. We've looked at trials and our response to trials, but where do trials come from? When I am tempted, where does that temptation originate from? Who's to blame for my falling away?

James 1:13 starts out, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God." God sends trials to strengthen us. We've already seen that. The same Greek word is used in verse 2: "Count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations," and in verse 12: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation." The same word is used, but the implications are different. We are to count it all joy and realize we are blessed when difficult circumstances come into our lives. We do this because, as we've seen, working through our trials gives us experience of seeing God work and gives us an expectation for His continuing to work on our lives. Verse 13, however, is talking about that wrong response to difficult circumstances. It speaks of when instead of growing, we fall. We sin. That soliciation does not come from God.

Many times our response to difficulty can be to accuse, berate or question God. In fact, Proverbs 19:3 states, "The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the LORD." As we encounter difficulty and we sin, we cry out to God, "Why did you allow this to happen?" We fret against God about our circumstances and even our sin. Ultimately we blame Him for our sin. Does this remind you of someone in the Bible? How about Adam? When Adam and Eve have both eaten of the fruit of the one tree God has told them not to eat of, they hide in shame. When God comes down in the cool of the day as was His habit, he confronts their sin. "Did you eat of the tree?" Adam says, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat." Who was he blaming? Eve, yes, somewhat. But look at how Adam starts, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me." Who gave him Eve? God did, of course. Adam just went to sleep a single man never having seen a woman, and then he wakes up a married man! Adam in essence is saying, "It's all your fault God. You gave me this woman. I didn't ask for her. You could have brought me a more righteous woman. You could have prevented this from happening. It's all your fault." Did Eve do any better though? God confronts her and she replies, "The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat." She doesn't say it as plain as Adam, but Who made the snake? God did. God made it all. You can see the link there. If God had not made the snake, if God had not made the snake so "subtil," if ... if ... See? Eve frets against God, too. We do too, ladies. How many times have I gotten angry and not controlled my tongue or attitude because of some "stupid" thing my husband was doing, and instead of repenting, my heart wants to whisper, "I can't help it. God, you gave him to me. You could help him not be so stupid sometimes." Who am I blaming for my sin? God, you brought this circumstance into my life. You are to blame if I don't respond rightly.

What does James say about that? Let's finish verse 13, "For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man." God cannot be tempted with evil. Tempted -- this is the only time this Greek word appears in the New Testament. The best I've been able to find out, it is talking about experienced knowledge. This verse is stating that God is not experienced with evil. God's character repulses evil. He is innocent of any evil. To say otherwise is to misunderstand the very nature of God. We see that God is holy in Leviticus 19:2: "I the LORD your God am holy." Leviticus 20:26: "I the LORD am holy." The angels cried, "Holy, holy, holy" in Isaiah 6:3. 1 Peter 1:16 states that, "[God is] holy." The very essence of God is holiness. Because He is holy, He repulses evil. He cannot have anything to do with evil. Habakkuk 1:13 states, "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." God cannot abide evil. Neither does God sit in Heaven just trying to get us to sin so He can smack us. Revelation 12:10 tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. 1 John 1 tells us that when we sin, Jesus Christ is our advocate with the Father. Beautiful picture. Jesus stands ready to plead our case before the Father should we sin. The wonderful thing about that? If we have trusted in Jesus for our salvation, the Father has already declared us righteous because of the blood of Jesus (Romans 8:33). Satan's accusations then have no ground to stand before a Judge who has declared us righteous, and a "lawyer" Who laid down His life for us that we might be saved. I encourage you to read Romans 8:31-39 again.

All of that to say, we have absolutely no grounds to say that God is at fault when we sin. "Neither tempteth he any man" (verse 13). This tempteth goes back to the same Greek word used in verses 2, 12, and 13. God does not entice any one to sin. I like what John MacArthur said in his sermon 'Whose fault is our Temptation,' "For to tempt someone else would indicate that He had a delight in seeing someone else do evil, but He who knows no evil cannot delight in evil." You've probably seen this in a group of kids somewhere. "I dare you to do it." Whatever "it" may be. The action is wrong, the consequences ususally not pretty, but the darer has a delight to see what's going to happen. The darer has a delight in evil. This misconception of God's role in our sin is based out of our own sinful nature. We are expecting God to act in a manner similar to ourselves. Have you ever read the Greek myths, or any other myths about ancient gods? These God's often are petulant, greedy and sinful. They are that way because their creators are that way. Man imagines a God that is very like himself. Even though we have the Bible to tell us otherwise, we fall prey to the very same ideas. We imagine God to be very like ourselves. But God is not like us. He does not delight in evil. He finds no pleasure in wicked things. Therefore we can know that God does not tempt us to evil. He tries us. He tests us to strengthen us and purge us, but when we take those circumstances and respond wrongly, when we sin, we cannot say that it's all God's fault. If He had not given us these circumstances we would not sin.

This is getting long, so I'll keep the next couple of verses about why we do sin for next week. You can read ahead. In fact, I encourage you to become very familiar with these verses we are studying. I hope this study is profitable for you, and once again, I would love to read your thoughts on this passage. Please feel free to comment.

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