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Temptation's Source

“The devil made him do it!” I still remember hearing those words from a Christian when speaking of another “professing” believer who had completely walked away from Christ to live for the world. According to this other believer, this poor person was a victim of a cruel enemy whom he could not overcome (and God couldn’t either!).

For some people, the explanation for their sin may not be “the devil made me do it,” but perhaps, “my circumstances are too difficult,” “bad things have happened to me (or other loved ones) growing up,” “people have exploited me,” or worse, “God isn’t delivering me from this or that particular pattern of sin, it’s God’s fault!”  On and on the list goes of reasons why we tend to ultimately blame God for our disobedience.

But James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Temptation in this context refers to the “inward solicitation to evil.” James says, “do your research! And when you do, you will realize that no matter how far and wide you look, God will never be found to be the author of your sin!” For two reasons: first, because of God’s character, “for God cannot be tempted by evil.” He’s holy, morally perfect, and blameless! Second, “He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Why? Because God would not be looking to do you harm! It’s in His nature only to do you good. God only gives “good and perfect gifts” (James 1:17). Thus, don’t blame Him for your sin!  

But where “does” evil come from? James tells us very clearly, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:14, emphasis mine). Please note how James places the responsibility for our sin on “each one” “when he is carried away” and “enticed by his own lust”! Rather than blaming God for your sin, this verse is telling us to take personal responsibility for it. Each of us are seduced by our own “lust” (evil desire in this context).

What does this evil desire do? “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” Evil desire in our hearts has a baby, named “sin.” Then sin, when fully grown, “brings forth death.” All sin ultimately leads to physical death. And, if not repented of, leads to “eternal death.” We see here the devastating natural consequences of our sin. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord that those who put their faith in Jesus Christ can be rescued not only from the penalty of sin, which is death (Rom 6:23), but also from the power of sin, and yes, hallelujah, one day from the presence of sin!

Until that glorious day when we see our Lord and Savior, let’s stop blaming other people, our circumstances, our upbringing, past hurts, and even God for our sin. All of those things (minus God!) might “explain” why we might struggle or have a propensity toward specific sins and struggles, but none of them “excuse” our sin! Ultimately, the buck stops with each of our hearts, and we are accountable to God for our own sin.

The more that we see our sin, it’s hideous nature, and take personal responsibility for it, the quicker we will run to the fountain of living waters, the Lord Jesus Christ, for grace to overcome it. Our sin is great, indeed, but Christ is greater than our sin. Like the great hymn says, “Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God’s grace; grace that is greater than all our sin”! This grace is made abundantly available to each of us in Christ Jesus. This is why James later says, “But He [God] gives a greater grace. Therefore, it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble…Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:6, 10). Let us humble ourselves before our Heavenly Father by repenting of blaming God and other things or people for our sin. It’s when we have this posture of humility that we will receive overflowing grace to finish the race of the Christian life.