The Book of James Bible Study

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James 1

The writer of James - James 1:1

Purpose of Trials and Temptations - James 1:2-4

Asking for Wisdom - James 1:5-8

The Christian's Attitude in the Midst of Trials - James 1:9-11

The Crown of Life in the Midst of Trials - James 1:12

The Birth of Temptation - James 1:13-14

Disobedience and Death  - James 1:15

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The Christian's Bible - James 1:16-26

The Birth of Temptation

BACKGROUND: The Christian life is not always the tranquil experience that is commonly expected. Believers are no less subject to trouble and calamity than are other people. Their physical bodies are just as susceptible to disease or injury as their unsaved neighbors. Their houses catch fire, their possessions are stolen, their jobs are lost, and their families are threatened — just like others’. Sometimes Christians are treated as hostile by the world. There are the troubles that come from other people or outer circumstances, which Scripture calls “trials.” The Christian can profit from such trials and should be prepared to do so.

On the other hand, there are temptations, which are enticements from within that are unprofitable if the Christian does not handle them correctly. Trials and temptations come from the same word in Greek; the context determines the meaning. Trials come from outside circumstances while temptations arise from the heart.

Temptations are more subtle and are often more difficult to handle than trials. To fall to temptation is sin which leads to feelings of guilt and discouragement. Every person has such temptations, and Christians are not immune. In the past, some have tried to withdraw totally from the world into some monastic setting; however, their sinful thoughts went right along with them.

Obviously, one does not consider it pure joy when they face temptations since evil and sin are present. We must be careful that trials on the outside do not become temptations on the inside. For example, Abraham and Sarah arrived in the Promised Land and when the test of famine came they turned into temptation by heading for Egypt. God chasten Abraham and brought him back to the place of blessing. When the Israelites arrived in the desert and there was no water, they turned God’s testing into temptation by murmuring and blaming God. Consider: sleep is normal; laziness is sin. The marriage bed is honorable; adulterers and all the sexually immoral God will judge (Hebrews 13:4).

The Source of Temptations

DENUNCIATION (James 1:13): “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” No person is driven to sin by the circumstances in which God might have placed him. It seems that no one would dare to blame directly, indirectly, or actually God for temptations. We are more likely to say, “The Devil made me do it.” But it is more than a possibility that God is blamed by some for temptations. Sometimes they are not aware that they are blaming God. There is a whole system of theology that makes God the ultimate cause for everything since He predetermines all that happens. Calvinism or Reformed Theology from its beginning has claimed that God is micromanaging every tiny detail that occurs in life. Therefore, God is responsible for sending everything our way, including our suffering, trials and temptations.

Adam blamed shifted blame to the Creator when he sinned (Genesis 3:12). According to James, God is neither the instigator nor remotely responsible for temptation. God never entices a person to do evil. It was not God’s fault that Adam sinned; He had been placed in a perfect environment, yet he sinned.

The reasons why God cannot be the source of man’s temptation are twofold. First, God’s nature is untemptable by anything evil. He is absolutely holy there are no weak points for temptation to gain a foothold. “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). It is utterly unthinkable for the One who is inherently untemptable to be the cause of temptation in others.

Second, God never tempts anyone. He may test people (Genesis 22:1; Deuteronomy 4:34: 7:19; 22:9; Psalm 95:8) to strengthen their faith, but He never entices them to sin.

The real source of blame for temptation is not to be found outside of man but within him. James is not discussing how sin entered the human race in the Garden of Eden; nor is he denying the role of Satan in this matter. What he was explaining was how present-fallen man encounters temptation.

Of course, it is sometimes the case that outward trials can themselves become the occasions for yielding to sin (for example, compromising one's faith to avoid persecution). James, however, was going to the heart of the matter in showing that the blameworthy aspect of temptation is inward, not outward. This was the teaching of Jesus in Mark 7:1-23.

DESIRE (James 1:14): “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” "Each one" who encounters temptation is faced with the lust and lure of sin. A person is tempted in the sense of being enticed to sin by his or her own desires. The term "desires" (epithumias) is more commonly translated "lusts" in the New Testament, although the Greek word itself was a neutral one. Whether the desires were to be understood as legitimate or sinful must be determined by the context. Here the sense clearly refers to desires that are aroused to do evil.

Two words describe the method by which a person's desires lead him into sin. The first one depicts the person as "dragged away" or "drawn away.” The second word, "enticed," comes from a root that means "bait." It depicts something being lured to the bait and being caught. Combining both concepts and viewing them as metaphors of a fisherman, one can visualize the fish being first aroused from its original place of safety and freedom, and then being lured to the bait that hides the fatal hook.

In similar fashion, every person has desires that seek gratification. All too often the desires are aroused and lured to seek their satisfaction in things that God has disapproved. Temptation always carries with it some bait that appeals to our natural desires.

Sin entered the human race because Adam and Eve succumbed to their desire to have what God had forbidden. Eve was deceived but not Adam. Since, then man’s fallen, sinful nature is bent to evil. “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalms 51:5). Thoughts and acts of sin spring from evil desires. The human heart is naturally deceitful and sick (Jeremiah 17:9), and out it comes evil thought (Matthew 15:19). Sin is living in us (Romans 7:17). If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).

Next Section - Disobedience and Death

Bible Studies by Bob Conway

Unsealing Revelation

Experiencing Exodus

Decoding Daniel

Life and Passion of Christ

The Holy Spirit

How to Study the Bible

Romans Salvation

Life of the Apostle Paul

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