Our Assigned Reading:
James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
The Lord teaches us to pray in the “Lord’s Prayer“: “and lead us not into temptation”… Does he teach us this because God is capable of leading us into temptation? Here James clarifies the answer to this question by stating “nor does he tempt anyone”…
But what is the difference between giving us trials or disciplines (as the scripture is very clear God does), and leading us into temptation? Perhaps the main one difference is the aim? What is the AIM of trials? What is the AIM of temptation? Who is the master tempter?
James says that God cannot be tempted by evil… but I would like to argue with him on this point just a BIT. Although it is certainly true that God cannot ever sin, scripture also states that God as a human (Jesus) WAS tempted by the Devil in the desert! In Hebrews it also states:
Heb. 4:14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
How amazing it is to have such a Savior and High Priest!
Finally, we have the powerful image of the temptation of “desire” and the sin and death that spawns in our lives if we let it “out of the bag”. How do we gauge the desires of our heart? A lot of mornings I scan “Aunt Betty’s Basement” ad section in the paper. I am ALWAYs on the lookout for “whatever” good deal comes my way. The fact is that I am always full of desires… When does that become a “problem” desire? Looking around us in the news and in our daily lives, the temptations of our desires continually get us into trouble. Not reporting our full income on our taxes… buying merchandise that was made with slave labor just so we can have more money to spend on other things we “want”… Cheating God of proper worship because of whatever “desire” we have on Sunday morning…. We can point to innumerable desires which do NOT come from God.
How come it is so hard to be “tempted” by the desires of God? Blessed be the appointment with the cross where Jesus desired us more than even his own life!