|Volume 17 Number 4 April 2015||
The responsibility and effect of sin have been questioned by mankind from the beginning of time. As many have noted, Adam blamed God for causing him to sin and his descendants have perpetuated his error ever since (Genesis 3:12). In James 1:13-18, the inspired author commanded Christians not to err in this fashion (James 1:16). Instead, they should consider the true lineage of temptation and sin, which does not and cannot include God.
James first identified who was not the father of temptation with these words, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God” (James 1:13a). The word “tempted” here is not an outward test (James 1:2) but an inward compulsion to do what is sinful. James commanded the “brethren” (James 1:2, 16) not to claim that God was the source of their temptation. James’ reasoning is simplistic and effective. Brethren should not claim that God is the source of temptation for one very important reason, “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13b). The implication seems to be that since God is not vulnerable to the desire to perform sin, He does not yearn to see mankind tempted with sin (James 1:13c).
James identified the father of temptation with the use of these words, “every man” and “his own” (James 1:14). The source of temptation to do evil is not God; rather, the responsibility falls squarely upon the individual. Interestingly, James does not implicate Satan who is regarded as the ultimate source of temptation throughout Scripture (James 4:7; 1 Peter 4:8; 2 Corinthians 2:11). Instead, he holds Christians personally responsible for their “own lusts.” Temptation occurs when one is “drawn away” and “enticed” to do something contrary to God’s Word. The word “drawn way” consists of two words, which mean “out of” and “to draw.” When combined literally they mean “to draw out of.” Much like an animal that is drawn out of its den, a place of security and rest to seek the pleasures of a full stomach, mankind is drawn out to fulfill an unlawful desire (“lust”). The word “enticed” could also be translated “lured” and is often used of false teachers who lure away their subjects with lies (2 Peter 2:14, 18). When one is drawn out by lust and baited, their will to do right is tested. If they manage to escape, sin has not occurred (1 Corinthians 10:13). However, if they fail, an unsightly result necessarily follows.
James warned the brethren of the results of lust and enticement’s unwarranted union, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin” (James 1:15a). The word “conceive” means “to become pregnant,” and James uses it to demonstrate that the mingling of lust and enticement is not without consequence. When a Christian’s will to do what is right surrenders to temptation, then an illegitimate child is born—named “sin.” Though everyone sins (1 John 1:8, 10) such an acknowledgment should not be an excuse for unrestrained desires. When sin is brought to completion (“finished”), it gives birth to spiritual death (Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 5:6).
Thankfully, over two thousand years ago, a birth of a different kind took place—the birth of One named Jesus “who is called Christ” (Matthew 1:16). He is the Messiah of the entire world (1 Timothy 2:4), sent to seek and to save those who are lost due to spiritual death caused by sin (Luke 19:10).
There was a young woman in her early thirties who was a wife and a mother. She was very dedicated to her family and a Christian worker. Yet inside, she found herself in a bad way. She was beginning to take a trip downward. She was heading for a certain kind of breakdown that some of us experience in life: the breakdown of her stubbornness and self-sufficiency. This woman had experienced some unexpected downturns in her life. She realized she couldn’t handle everything alone like she thought.
Finally, she hit the bottom—the rock-bottom of it all. It turns out that she understood that there was a relief to this experience in the form of Christ. Jesus Christ was the rock on which she hit bottom. Being cast upon Christ, and casting all her cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7), she began to rebuild her life. She rebuilt herself as someone who was dependent upon God, rather than the person she had been. Hitting rock-bottom was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to her, and to us. Most people don’t realize how much they need the Savior until they have hit rock-bottom. It becomes a vital turning point in our spiritual development.
Most people do not feel so spiritual when they hit the bottom. Some even become more miserable when they see Christians who are supposed to care but in reality take a very narrow and shortsighted view of the difficulties that the sufferer is having and why he or she is suffering. Our Heavenly Father is very pleased that for us He can make something out of nothing. He can bring joy in the midst of a painful process.
In Psalm 119:71, we read the following: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” The Psalmist is essentially saying to God, “Be good to me in accordance with how good you are; even if it means being afflicted in life. Your affliction is good for me. It teaches me knowledge and good judgment from your law.” Now isn’t that the attitude we should have and project to others? Christ is a firm foundation, especially when we have reached rock-bottom. God loves you, and so do I.