Trials and Temptations
12 God will bless you, if you don't give up when your faith is being tested. He will reward you with a glorious life, just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
13 Don't blame God when you are tempted! God cannot be tempted by evil, and he doesn't use evil to tempt others. 14We are tempted by our own desires that drag us off and trap us. 15Our desires make us sin, and when sin is finished with us, it leaves us dead.
16Don't be fooled, my dear friends. 17Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father who created all the lights in the heavens. He is always the same and never makes dark shadows by changing. 18He wanted us to be his own special people, and so he sent the true message to give us new birth.
James knows that the greatest temptations we face are often not those trials on the outside; they are actually the inward enticement we feel to do wrong. If we are not wise outer trials quickly lead to temptations on the inside. We entertain the possibility of satisfying a good thing in a bad way. For example, it is right and good for a student to want to excel on an examination, but it is wrong to do so by cheating. The desire for a good grade is ruined by the method chosen to achieve it.
We tend to think of sin as a single act. God sees sin as a process. It begins with an ungodly desire (emotions). In our quest to satisfy that desire, we are “drawn away” (intellect). The imagery is of a hunter baiting a trap, or a fisher baiting a hook. The peril of the desire is masked by the lure of the bait. The bait keeps us from seeing the consequences for our sin. Drawn to the lure we plan a method for taking the bait (will). We choose to act, and set ourselves on a path that leads to death. A distinguishing mark of a mature Christian is that we choose not to take the bait of sin.
Obedience to God is our choice about the kind of people we want to be. Every one of us is involved in a sequence of choices. Each choice shapes our character and either makes it easier to follow Christ or to do things our own way. With each act of obedience to God, we receive the promise to be crowned with his approval. Make obedience your habit.
Father God, You are honest about the destructive process of sin. No bait, however alluring, compares with the fulfillment you promise us in Jesus. Through obedience to you, we worship you and confess to you the kind of people we want to be. Through Jesus, Amen.