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James 1:13-15 - Let No One Say I Am Being Tempted By God!

James 1:12-18 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind off irstfruits of his creatures.”

I’d like to remind us of the things that we have already learned because all of these thoughts are flowing together. James 1:1 states, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

Chapter 15 in the Westminster Confession is entitled, ‘Of Repentance unto Life’ and it begins with these words, “Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ.

In the same section of the 1689 Confession of Faith our baptist predecessors began this section in a manner that is somewhat surprising. The chapter entitled ‘Repentance To Life And Salvation’ begins with these words, “Some of the elect are converted after their early years, having lived in the natural state for a time and served various evil desires and pleasures. God gives these repentance to life as part of their effectual calling.

The Westminster places the emphasis on the grace of repentance and faith that comes through the proclamation of the gospel. The Baptist Confession also speaks of the grace of repentance that comes through the effectual call but it especially emphasizes the fact that some people are converted after many years of faithless and godless living.

I often wonder why the Baptist Confession begins this way? One of my conclusions is that this shows that the Gospel can save the most hardened and entrenched sinner. The gospel can save the most devout atheist, humanist, materialist, communist, paganist, or anyone else. The Gospel call can save any individual who has lived so many years indulging in their sinful desires and worldly passions. The gospel can overcome the spiritual deadness of a child or of the man who comes to the end of his life and testifies before the congregation, “Oh, how I have hated discipline!” (Proverbs 5:12)

Our discipleship plan here at Community Church, The LifePlan, states that sin is our greatest danger. Unrepentant sin leads to emotional, physical, relational breakdown, to physical death, and to judgment. Galatians 5:19-21 speaks of these things, “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

James will show us today that sinful passions and desires are conceived in a persons heart and then they give birth to sin. If the sinner does not repent of these sins and turn to Christ in faith these sins are allowed to grow and mature. Eventually these sins begin to produce sinful fruit and they will inevitably lead to death. (James 1:13-15)

Only the effectual call of God through the preaching of the Gospel can overcome this process and give eternal life to a person. When the gospel is proclaimed effectually to a sinners heart the LORD ‘calls them out of their natural state of sin and death to grace and salvation by Christ. He enlightens their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God. He takes away their heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh. He renews their wills and by His almighty power turns them to good and effectually draws them to Jesus Christ. (LBC 10.1)

When a person comes to Christ after they have lived as a sinner for so long God’s power is put on display for all to witness. When God converts a sinner He overcomes the strength of sin and the power of their spiritual deadness and He gives them new life in Jesus Christ Jesus. This is why Paul says in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

James is an example of the type of person that the 1689 Confession is speaking about. James grew up in the home of Joseph and Mary and they were righteous, godly, faithful, and devout parents. James had grown up in the same family with Jesus and he followed Jesus throughout His ministry in Judea and in Galilee; yet, despite all of these things James was an unbeliever.

As an unbeliever James was preoccupied with the things of this world and with the worldly passions and carnal desires that his heart was enslaved to. His heart was bent and inclined to satisfy his sinful and selfish passions and desires. If these sins were ever exposed he would try to justify his sin. Heads up! James 1:13-15 will teach us today that this process is not to continue in the life of a believer.

James served his own evil passions and desires for many years. Left to himself James’ sinful condition was incurable, but James testifies in James 1:18 about how the LORD powerfully saved him, “Of his (the LORD’s) own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.” After this happened everything changed in James’ life. James became a new creation!

James is a good example of what God’s mercy and grace can do for anyone who repents and believes upon Christ. After his conversion James was no longer enslaved to serve the various evil passions and desires. When he repented and believed upon Christ James’ heart was transformed and this is why he introduces himself as ‘a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ’. (1:1) James no longer allowed his sinful passions and desires to be the primary motivation for the way he lived his life; rather, James greatest joy was to now submitted his will to God’s wisdom and let God’s Word guide and direct his life.

Is there the same evidence of the this type of grace working in your life? This type of transformation is not reserved for pastors, elders, deacons and a chosen few. We just saw that James is speaking to everyone in James 1:18 when he says to every person, “Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we would be the firstfruits of His creatures.

  • This type of transformation is not only for a young child who is hardly stained by the sin of this world.

  • This type of transformation is not only for those who grew up in the perfect environment.

  • This type of transformation is not for the educated, the rich, the gifted, the fortunate, or those with a certain personality and disposition.

  • No, James addresses everyone when he says, “To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion”.

I just asked, “Is there the same evidence of the this type of grace working in your life?” If you cannot see the evidence of this type of grace at work in your life there may be two things going on.

  • First, it may be that you have never repented and believed upon Christ.

  • Secondly, it may be that you are saved but that you are excusing the sin in your life and it is keeping you from maturing in Christ. {Again, James 1:13-18 will help address these things.}

We saw in James 1:2-4 that James told these suffering Christians to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that he testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (2-4)

How is it possible that a person can count it all joy when they encounter trials? It is possible because a Christian knows God’s Word and their will is submitted to this truth. As a result, they experience joy in knowing that God is using these trials to perfect, complete and to ensure that they lack nothing. Because of this a Christian will remain steadfast in their faith during a trial and they will not abort what God is doing because it is for their good.

At this point in James’ letter we are beginning to see how important God’s wisdom is in the life of a believer. God transforms our hearts and makes us new by the Word of God (1:18) and then He gives us everything we need to live this new life through the application of God’s Word through faith.

This is why when we come to James 1:5-8 James stresses these two things when he says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Then in James 1:9-11 we are reminded that we are no longer sinners who are only concerned with this temporal life. No, we are now believers who live according to eternal realities that are given to us by Christ. James says, “Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.” (9-11)

I just said that a believer is now no longer only concerned with this temporal life. This does not mean that believers are disengaged and disinterested with the things going on around them. No, this means that we do care that our faith becomes visible to those around us by how we respond to the things in everyday life. It also means that with this eternal perspective we can remain steadfast in the faith even as things become increasingly difficult for us to bear.

This is why James goes on to make three factual statements in James 1:12 which will help a Christian remain steadfast in the faith when trials come. These are ‘regulating principles’ to be applied to our lives so that we will be able to remain steadfast in the faith during times of trials and testings with joy. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

We concluded last week that we ought to take the words, ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial’, very literally. A Christian is to endure, abide, and remain steadfast during times of testing and trials and not allow these times to become opportunities of temptation to faithlessly sin. Trials will either be a test of faith that leads to our sanctification or it will reveal our faithlessness which leads to sin and death.

This is why James in James 1:13-15 we are reminded to take sin very seriously and not make excuses for its presence in our lives. James says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

In verse 13 James addresses the fact that we so often blame our sin on our circumstances, other people, Satan, or even God! He says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God…’”. I suppose that if we allow ourselves to blame God for our sin then there is no excuse we will not give to justify our sin!

Picture a ladder. Each step represents an excuse we could use for our sin.

  • The first rung is to blame our circumstances

  • The second rung is to blame the people around us

  • The third rung is to blame Satan

  • The fourth rung is to blame God

James says to us to not be sinfully prideful and to, “Stay off the ladder that leads to a great fall.” We are to kneel before the LORD, we are to fall prostrate before God in sackcloth and ashes, and take responsibility for our own sin. When we sin we moved from remaining steadfast in a trial to falling in temptation.

James will tell us in James 4:1-10, “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says,  God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

When sin entices us it is not uncommon for us to...

  • Blame it on our circumstances, our surroundings, our environment. (Exodus 32:1- “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, ‘Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’”)

  • Blame our parents, our friends, our spouse, our kids, our enemies.

  • Blame the preacher, the elders, the ministry leader, the congregants, etc. (Exodus 14:11- “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in the desert?”)

  • Blame Satan and his demons for our temptation to sin saying, “Satan made me do it!” This was Eve’s excuse when she said to the LORD, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” (3:13)

  • Blame our sin on being set free from the condemnation of the Law. (Galatians 5:13- “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”)

  • Worst of all we blame God! (Genesis 3:12- “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate.”)

  • God did not stop me, God did not protect me, God let the temptation come upon me to quickly and to powerfully, He made me this way…,

James, the pastor, theologian, elder, and apostle is laying down a rule for every professing Christian to obey within the congregation. James is giving a command (imperative) that is to be obeyed at all times (present tense) even under difficult circumstances (‘when he is being tempted’). James is emphasizing that this should not be spoken in the heart of any individual, “Let no one (singular) say when he (singular) is tempted, ‘I (singular) am being tempted by God…’

Illustration: I had a favorite professor in college named Dr. Autry. This man was small in stature and quiet mannered but I really admired him. I respected this man so I took every class that I could from him. To be honest, I even started attending his church so I could go to his Sunday School class.

I remember one particular day when Dr. Autry became unusually passionate about something that he was teaching. Dr. Autry began to tell the class that there was a teaching that he would not tolerate and if he ever heard someone teach it he would not just get up and leave the church but that he would get up and publicly confront that individual in front of everyone. Dr. Autry was so passionate about this because this teaching would bring into question the very nature, character and truth concerning God.

We have been studying the book of James for only a little over a month but I hope that this has still been enough time for you and I to form a relationship with James so that when he says something like this we will immediately pay attention and obey what he command. {We all know the Holy Spirit is speaking through these words that James has written.} James is sounding a lot like Dr. Autry did that day and every individual in here should make a covenant with their heart that they will never think such a thing. They should make a covenant with their mouth that they will not say such a thing.

James addresses this because it would go against God’s nature and His character to say this. James says, “...for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” This is a new teaching that James is giving here as a Christian. This is another example of how different godly wisdom is from worldly wisdom. This is a new Christian way of thinking about temptation because these Jewish Christians had been taught by the Pharisees that when God created man He created them with these sinful tendencies and the only cure for it was to be under the Law of God. (William Barclay’s Commentary on James) James, however, will tell us that we are to be honest about our sin and receive the implanted word which is able to save our souls.

This ought to make us appreciate the Baptist Confession which clearly teaches something that contradicts this Pharisaical teaching. In 4.2 we read, “After God had made all the other creatures, He created humanity. He made them male and female, with rational and immortal souls, thereby making them suited to that life lived unto God for which they were created. They were made in the image of God, being endowed with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. They had the law of God written in their hearts and the power to fulfill it. Even so, they could still transgress the law, because they were left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject to change.” Or in 6.1 we read, “God created humanity (Adam and Eve in the Garden before the Fall) upright and perfect.

If someone were to say that God tempted them to sin it would be offensive to James because this contradicted God’s nature, His character and His Word. He says,

  • God cannot be tempted”- God has not experience of ever being tempted to do evil in any way.

  • He Himself tempts no one”- God is holy and He will not and cannot use evil to tempt anyone to sin.

Theologically we know that God is sovereign over all things that happen and that nothing happens apart from His knowledge and approval (LBC 3&5). As we see in the book of Job God will use Satan to test our faith but He Himself cannot and will not tempt people to sin. James is clear about where the temptation to sin comes from when he says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Can you imagine how confusing life would be for us if we believed that God could and would do such a thing? You and I know all to well just how confusing and difficult it is to be around sinners and Satan who are always trying to entice us to sin. James is saying that we do not have to worry that God would do such a thing! We can come to Him boldly to find mercy and grace to help us in our time of need and He will help us. The LORD will help us overcome temptations that come from the world, from Satan or from within us.

There are two participles in verse 14. The participle ‘lured’ or ‘carried away’. The first participle speaks of drawing someone out and away from a place of safety into a dangerous place. The second participle ‘enticed’ means to allure by use of a bait into a trap. When this happens to a person it results in that person sinning and it can lead to death. These participles are in the passive form and this means that these things are continual and habitual truths that are happening all the time to a person. Because of this we learned last week in James 1:12 we need to remain steadfast and in the end we will receive the promised crown of life.

These participles are fishing terms that these Jewish Christians would have understood well. Recently Taylor Hillman went fishing in Canada and we talked briefly about how well he was able to ‘lure’ and ‘entice’ those Canadian fish to bite on his bait so that they could be carried away and eaten by him. Sometimes when your fishing it seems like everything you put on the hook is ignored by the fish. Then there are other times when the fish desire to eat almost anything you try. The desire of the fish makes him take the bait to his own demise.

If a Christian allows their sinful passions and desires to be their primary motivation they will find themselves falling to temptation often. These sins make promises but they cannot produce true happiness and joy; rather, they produce death. When a Christian falls into sin they should repent and not blame their circumstances, or others, or even God for these things. If they do this they will be forgiven and restored. (1 John 1:9)

After this is done a believer continues to renew their mind with the Word of God and they submit their will to God’s wisdom and obey the scriptures by faith. As they do this they will grow in sanctification and experience true blessedness. By doing this their lives will no longer be characterized by sin, but their life will be characterized by having been made the firstfruits through salvation and all the other varied graces that are now made available to him through faith (2 Thess. 1:11; Ephesians 1:19-20, 3:20).

Next time James will begin verse 16 with these words, “Do not be deceived…”. We can be deceived by about so many things. The worst deception is that which deceives us about the nature and character of God. As we leave this morning let me leave you with this good news, “God cannot be tempted with evil, and He tempts no one. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.” (1:13, 17-18)


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