Wednesday, September 5, 2007

James 1: 12-18: Temptation

"Each man is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed." ~ James 1:14

Yesterday, we heard that God wants each of his beloved ones to be "mature and complete, not lacking anything" (v. 4). James confronts, head-on, the greatest obstacle to mature belief in Jesus Christ: temptation. Earlier this summer, in the context of Jesus's desert temptation, I noted that Satan is the source of temptation. Growing believers struggle with this fact, sometimes for years. My own record humbles me - though I sense that victory is drawing near.

When men and women choose to put away their old lives and dedicate their bodies and souls to Jesus, it's hard not to expect imminent, drastic transformation. I suspect that certain kinds of evangelism (not all) condition new converts to expect instant change in their lives solely by the act of believing. James writes to correct this false teaching, which prevailed in his time too!

He is clear that God loves good and hates evil: "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone" (v. 13). God permits Satan to extend a hand over certain portions of our lives, but only so we can say No to sin and Yes to grace. Then, we will receive "the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him" (v. 12).

Alleluia to our God whose Spirit brings us out of sinful death and gives us abundant life!

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