James 1:13-15: I Can Resist Anything Except Temptation
Irish essayist, novelist, playwright and poet, Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is reported to be the first the one who said, “I can resist anything but temptation.”
Comedian, Flip Wilson said, “The devil, made me do it!” This idea began in the Garden of Eden, when Adam said, “It’s not my fault, the woman you gave me…made me do it…” (Genesis 3:12). Eve said, “It’s not my fault, The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). In other words, “The devil made me do it.” Ever since that day in the Garden of Eden, we tend to blame others rather than ourselves for our sinful choices.
The mantra of our present generation is, “It’s not my fault…” “It’s society;” “It was my upbringing;” It was the neighborhood;” “It was my teachers that made me do it!” Man is inclined, when he is wrong, to lay the blame on someone else. He is like the small boy who was standing on the cat’s tail. The mother, hearing the terrible outburst from the cat, called from the next room, “Tommy, stop pulling that cat’s tail!” Tommy yelled back, “I’m not pulling the cat’s tail. I’m just standing on it. The cat is doing the pulling!”
Someone once put the thrust of much pop-psychology into a song:
I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed
To find out why I killed the cat and blacked my husband's eyes.
He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,
And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious mind:
When I was one, my mommy hid my dolly in a trunk,
And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.
When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,
And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.
At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence toward my brothers,
And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.
But I’m happy; now I've learned the lesson this has taught;
That everything I do that's wrong is someone else's fault.
–Bethany Baptist Church, Portland, Oregon (edited by me)
William Kelly observes "The Epistle then turns from our holy trials to our unholy ones, and shows their source to be, not in God, but in sinful man.”
Verse 13a: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God…”
“When he is tempted.” Notice he does not say if but when. Temptation is a sure thing!
The Greek word for “tempted” is peirasmos, meaning, “to bait, lead astray, seduce, tantalize, to try, make trial of, test for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself… to try or test one's faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin” –Trench
“What is temptation? It is seduction to evil, solicitation to wrong. It stands distinguished from trial thus: trial tests, seeks to discover the man’s moral qualities or character; but temptation persuades to evil, deludes, that it may ruin. The one means to undeceive, the other to deceive. The one aims at the man’s good, making him conscious of his true moral self; but the other at his evil, leading him more or less unconsciously into sin. God tries; Satan tempts.” –Patrick Fairbairn
Temptation, in and of itself is not a sin, “(Jesus) was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). But temptation becomes sin when we put ourselves into situations that we know will cause temptation. This is an important truth to understand, because if we believe temptation is sin, then we’re likely to assume there’s no use in struggling against the temptation because we think we’ve already sinned; we think we've already crossed the line, so we might as well go all the way. This helps us see why it’s so very important to “…bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
“Temptation is the tempter looking through the keyhole into the room where you’re living; sin is you, drawing back the bolt and making it possible for him to enter.” Wilbur Chapman (edited)
“Temptation is not sin; it is the call to battle. The point is that we are in a war, a continual war against our soul, and it is not simply a momentary skirmish. Our flesh, the evil world system and the evil one are resolutely determined to take us down. “…your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Stop being deceived (James 1:15) regarding this strategic truth, lest you be swept downstream by the strong pull of the temptation that comes from within.” –F.P. Woof (edited)
We will never be able to grow in Christ until we are realistic about the problem of temptation and sin in our lives. James makes us face the truth about temptation in our lives. He is speaking in the context of ‘trials’ (James 1:1-12); and helps us to see that we can let these trials become temptations to sin by allowing our own sinful desires to rule over us.
Antonio Salieri (1750-1825), is popularly remembered as a supposedly bitter rival of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This includes rumors that Salieri murdered Mozart out of jealousy, when in reality, they were at least respectful peers. He is quoted as saying, “God, You gave me the desire to create beautiful music for You, then You made me mute.” He was blaming God because he was not as popular as Mozart.
There’s a simple solution for the “It’s not my fault” and the “passing the buck” syndrome. When we sin, take immediate responsibility for our sinful thoughts and actions like David did: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I have not hidden” (Psalm 32:5).
Verse 13b: “…God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”
Do not even begin to think that God is remotely responsible for your sin. We cannot indict God for anything. Since God is absolutely free from the power of being solicited to evil, this precludes the possibility of Him tempting others. God is too holy to be tempted and He is too loving to tempt His children!
We say things like: “God, I’m only human, You made me this way.” “God, if you had not created me with desire I wouldn’t be tempted with pornography.”
God placed in His creation certain drives or desires and without them man could not exist: If we did not experience hunger and thirst, we couldn’t live; without fatigue, the body would never rest; sex is a normal desire, given by God, without it the human race would not exist.
It is when we try to satisfy those desires outside of God’s will and word that we get into trouble. For example, eating is normal, but gluttony is sin. Sleep is normal, laziness is sin. Sex is certainly permitted as long as it is within the confines of marriage, and within the parameters of the word of God. These fundamental desires are the electricity that makes the machinery run, turn it off and you have no power, let the power run wild, it creates destruction. To try to deny these normal desires by suppressing them you become less than human. But we must master these desires or they will master us.
God allows temptation, but He Himself does not entice us to evil, though God may test our faith.
“Satan tempts: God tries. But the same trial may be both a temptation and a trial; and it may be a trial from God’s side, and a temptation from Satan’s side, just as Job suffered from Satan, and it was a temptation; but he also suffered from God through Satan, and so it was a trial to him.” –Spurgeon
Verse 14: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.”
“Drawn away,” enticed. The Greek word is, exelko, it means “to bait a trap or a hook, drag forth, like a fish is drawn out from its retreat.” So just as in hunting and fishing the game is lured from its hiding place, so too man is lured by temptation, lured from the safety of self-control (even Spirit enabled self control - Galatians 5:23) to commit acts of sin.
Temptation always carries bait with it. Just under every fisherman’s lure is a hidden hook. The bait not only attracts us but also hides the fact that yielding will bring us grief.
Lot, before he ended up in Sodom, saw the well-watered plains of Jordan. He would not have yielded if he had seen the corruption that trapped his children into the heathen practices of the Sodomites, and would have seen his wife utterly destroyed (Genesis chapters 12-14;19).
David would never have been caught in the tempter’s trap if he had seen the end result of his sin with Bathsheba: The murder of a good soldier, the rape of his daughter; the killing of his son Absalom and judgment upon his nation (2 Samuel).
Moses would never have succumbed to the tempter’s trap if he knew that when he struck the rock that second time, stealing God’s glory, he would be denied entrance into the Promised Land (Numbers 20).
If the person with Aids or venereal disease had seen the tempter’s trap, they would never have continued in sexual sin. They just didn’t see the hook!
The alcoholic would never have taken the hook, the first drink, if he could have seen the heartbreak and grief it would cause him and his family.
The pregnant young girl would never have taken the bait, if she could have imagined the dilemma she would face, abortion or raising a baby, when she is not much more than a baby herself. She could not have seen what the next 18 years would be like.
The lesson here is, always look for the hook when you see the bait.
“For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, and saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding, passing along the street near her corner; and he took the path to her house in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night. And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart. She was loud and rebellious, her feet would not stay at home. At times she was outside, at times in the open square, lurking at every corner. So she caught him and kissed him; with an impudent face she said to him: ‘I have peace offerings with me; today I have paid my vows. So I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you. I have spread my bed with tapestry, colored coverings of Egyptian linen. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love.
For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he has taken a bag of money with him, and will come home on the appointed day.’ With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life” (Proverbs 7:6-23).
Verse 15: “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
The metaphor now changes to a female giving birth. Desire conceives of a method far taking the bait, the will approves and acts, the result is sin. Whether we feel it or not, we are hooked, the baby is born, just wait till it matures.
Disobedience always gives birth to death, not life. It may take years for the sin to mature, but when it does, it bring death.
“Desire…” in Greek is epithumia, “lust, craving, longing, yearning, a strong desire of any kind, without consideration of its being a good or bad desire.
“This is one of the boldest and most dramatic metaphors in the Bible. Restated, it means lust has a child named sin; and sin, as soon as it grows up, has a baby named death! Barclay noted that, ;The word here translated ‘bringeth forth’ is an animal word for birth; and it means that sin spawns death.’ When man permits his natural desires to dominate his life, he becomes less than a man and sinks to the level of the brute creation. The teaching of this verse is identical with that of Paul who wrote, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).” –Coffman
Verse 16: “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.”
Don't allow yourself to be led astray. Don't be misled. Stop being deceived!
Deuteronomy 11:16, “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them.”
1 Corinthians 6:9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…”
Galatians 6:7, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
Speaking of being deceived, I began this message talking about Adam and Eve and the serpent in Genesis 3. Let me expand on that thought: Paul describes how Eve was tempted, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
The serpent used desire to peak Eve’s interest, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). She saw the bait, the forbidden fruit, and heard the serpent, “You will be like God…” but she didn’t see the hook, and she forgot the Lord’s warning, “…the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16).
Remember our text says, he is “drawn away by his own desires…” (verse 14)
“They (Adam and Eve) didn’t just ignorantly decide to eat the fruit, nor did they eat it because ‘the Devil made them do it.’ Satan’s outright lies and cunning half-truths brought something to the surface of Eve’s mind that fateful day. She realized that to be like gods meant not having to serve God, it meant being equal to God. It meant that she felt as if God had deliberately kept her and Adam in the dark regarding their ‘divine potential.’ Why should they tend God’s garden in Eden when they could be as gods themselves? Why should they have to obey God if they were also gods? The quickness with which Adam acquiesced to Eve’s offer of the fruit may possibly show that he too harbored these same feelings, or it may mean that Adam, though knowing Eve had sinned willfully decided to throw his lot in with her by deliberately eating from the fruit. Eve had been deceived, Adam had not. In any event, we know that it was Adam’s sin that was responsible for the Fall and the Curse (Romans 5:12). The sin of pride that led to Satan’s fall had now infected the hearts and minds of Adam and Eve, and the result was the same: shame, loss of wisdom, ruin and death.” –Troy Lacey, answersingenesis.org (edited slightly)
Whether we blame the serpent (Satan) or blame Adam and Eve, the results are devastating! This sin plunged then world into sin. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 3:23).
Satan made a good catch when he baited his hook that day. Eve disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit, then she compounded her sin by enticing Adam to eat.
But I have great news! Even though the whole world has been corrupted by sin, including you and me, God has provided a remedy,
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
“For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).
What do I do? Like Joe Friday, from the old TV show “Dragnet,” let me say, “Just the facts, ma’am or sir.” No bait hiding a hook to tempt you to do something bad, but just God’s simple plan of salvation
In Acts 16:30, Paul and Silas are in jail, God shakes the jail and sets them free. The jailor rushed in expecting to find his prisoners gone, but they were still there. He fell to his knees and said, “what must I do to be saved?” The answer is found below!.
First you must realize that you are a sinner. “For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “No one is righteous—not even one. No one is truly wise; no one is seeking God. All have turned away; all have become useless. No one does good, not a single one” (Romans 3:10-12).
Because all of mankind are sinners, we are condemned to death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This means eternal separation from God.
You must repent of your sins. Repentance carries with it the idea of confession, sorrow, turning and changing. “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19).
But God loved each of us so much that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to bear our sin and die in our place. “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Although we cannot understand how, God said our sins were laid upon Jesus and He died in our place. Jesus became our substitute.
That jailer asked his prisoners, Paul and Silas: “’Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.’” (Acts 16:30-31).
Listen to God’s holy word: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9,10,13). It is Christ’s death and resurrection that assures us of everlasting life, when we call on Him as our Lord and Savior. Christ invites us to come to Him, and God has promised, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
It’s very clear in the Bible, if you believe that Jesus bore your sins, died in your place, was buried, and rose from the dead, repent of your sins, and call on Him, you will be saved.
How do I call on Him? Just talk to Him as you would to a friend or loved-one. Tell Him you know you have sinned (done wrong), and that you want to turn your back on your sins and your old life (repent) and begin to serve Him. Tell Him you want Him to come into your life right now, tell Him you now receive Christ as your Savior and Lord.
Oh, my friend, listen to Jesus, “My sheep (that’s you now) hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one” (John 10:28-30). And you can be “confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ”
Dear reader, if you made that decision for Christ, I would love to hear from you! Please e-mail me about your decision at email@example.com
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).