Editor's note: James moves into a more theological
discussion on who God is and what the Christian is
responsible for doing in his or her life. This section
asks the question "What is God like?" and sets up the next
section with the question
Does God Change?
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and
perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of
the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting
shadows (James 1:16-17).
EXPOSITION: “Do not be deceived” is
commonly used to call attention to some truth just spoken
or to one about to be stated (Galatians 6:7; 1 Corinthians
6:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Luke 21:8). James uses it in
the midst of his discussion to stress that evil does not
come from God. James places it after the negative
assertion and before the positive statement of what God
does not and does provide.
It is possible to understand James as “Stop deceiving
yourselves by supposing that God is the originator of sin,
or that he impels any man to commit it.” If God is not the
author of evil, what does He sire? Every good and perfect
gift! Both God’s acts of giving and His gifts are good and
perfect. “Every” indicates that God is the fountain and
author of all goodness. In fact, Jesus said, “No one is
good—except God alone” (Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19).
Therefore, in contrast to the evil enticements that
proceed from within the heart of fallen man, good gifts
come to us from above. Such benefits come down to us in a
steady stream from the Father of lights. This is
understood best from the benediction to the Shema:
“Blessed be the Lord our God who hath formed the lights.”
These heavenly bodies provided readily understood symbols
of purity as well as constancy.
This statement effectively negates any possibility the
claim that temptation to sin comes from God. Key to this
fact is that God the Father does not change like shifting
shadows. There is no change, variation in God. While God
is the Creator and Sustainer of these variable lights, as
the Giver of good gifts to men there is no variation in
Next Section -
Does God Change?