This is part of my series on Jame which originally appeared on my Blog, Truth in Palmyra
Now we are summarizing the section in James Chapter 1 where James deals with the subject of sin in the lives of believers.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
God Does NOT Tempt Us With Sin
Now James moves on to a different use of the word which was translated temptation. Here, James IS referring to temptation to sin; he is no longer discussing the tests and trials of life. James has made a transition from temptation, or trials, as a noun to the use of temptations, or sin, as a verb. He is talking about the act of sin.
The discussion of the origin of sin and evil in the world could be, and has been, written about in volumes. We aren’t going that deep here.
Clearly God allows and even causes things to be placed into our lives that will test and grow our faith; we have talked about that up to this point. This is not true of temptation to sin. God Himself cannot, of course violate His own Law; nor can He even entertain the thought of doing something out of His nature. In the same vein, God will never place temptations to sin and perform evil into our paths as a way to test and refine us. That is what we are being taught here.
Although God did not create, and is not responsible for sin, He did create us with free will. It did not take man long to exercise his free will and blow it. Even then, nobody wanted to assume responsibility for what they had done. Eve blamed the serpent; Adam blamed Eve and Adam even blamed God.
James is simply teaching us that our sin, and our actions, are our responsibility. Jesus saves us,and forgives us, but we are responsible for the things we do.
The Path Of Sin
Whose problem is sin? Well, it’s ours. Note what James says…our own lust. Lust here is not referring to sexual lust necessarily, just all the things we desire for. God did, in fact, create us all to seek certain things. Sexual desire is one of those things. God created men to seek certain things: success, to be good at what we do. Inside of all of us are things God planted so we could use them in attaining His purposes. The fact that they exist is not wrong. The wrongness comes in our application of them.
So, God does not tempt us with sin. Even though Satan tempts us, he does not cause it, either. He does use our own desires, which we all have, to entice us to use them wrongly and sinfully. That is the enticement part, we are enticed to take our God given desires and point them the wrong way.
Having a desire, and even being enticed to head the wrong way, is not wrong necessarily either. Anybody reading not been tempted to sin or do wrong? I didn’t think so! So, what happens? Lust conceives; that is we come to some point where we think it is okay. And once the sin has conceived, that same thing happens with any conception: a birth. In this case, a sin is born.
Sadly, sin has consequences. When sin is finished, it brings forth death. One form is certainly physical death; sin is what brought that into the world and the death rate remains 100%. It also brought spiritual death, in the form of eternal separation from God.
But, God loves us. We will all physically die, but we need not all eternally die.
What’s Better Than Sin?
Here seems to be a description of why we would no longer wish to sin. James is just full of practical wisdom in his book. We have covered how we should react to trials, how we should react to temptations and now we briefly discuss why NOT to sin. James gives us some great advice here.
Do not err. Are we reborn and made instantly sinless? Of course not! But the question arises concerning our motivation. Christians have been heard to say, “Since I was saved, I sin all I want to!”. The response to the no doubt surprised gasp of listeners is simply, “But, I don’t want to.”
Once we are saved, what is one our primary motivations to not sin? Well, God’s way is better; that is why. His way is better because of His gifts. Recall Adam and Eve? Satan’s basic tactic was to convince Eve that God was some cosmic killjoy, out to ruin all of Eve’s fun. It worked, and the rest is history.
God’s gifts are better than our sin. What God has planned for us is better, and the way He gives it all to us is better as well. The good gifts and the perfect gifts are from above; they are from God. There is no turning, no variableness from God; his constant is the never ending goodness of His plan for us.
God willed that, through His Word, we be saved; He has desired that we become His “Firstfruits,” or His handiwork.
Now James is going to dive in full force concerning the practical application of our receiving and accepting God’s Word, so stay tuned!