God Does Not Tempt
Like takes its twists and turns. We sometimes find ourselves where we do not belong. Deep down we don’t want to be in dark places, but alas it happens. Struggle happens. We suffer at the hands of our enemies, many times caused by our own choices. Trying hard to deflect the blame we think we are being tempted by God to prove our faith in Him.
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting. Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord. Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like the 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 will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits. Blessed is the man who endures 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 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 full-grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good endowment 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 first fruits of his creatures.James 1.1-18
Today’s passage from the Epistle of James makes very clear that God is not the one tempting us. There is a difference between allowing temptation and causing it. God knows that we are strengthened by spiritual struggles.
Just as our bodily muscles grow stronger when used, our spiritual muscles grow when they are tested. This is why Saint James says that our trials produce steadfastness. God will give us what we need to overcome any struggle. His promise to us is that we will lack nothing to overcome struggle if we ask Him.
The first step in every sin is thinking we will always be strong enough to ‘say no’ to temptation. We have all found ourselves regretting a choice in which we ended up not being strong enough to avoid sin. The ‘way out’ is to do our best to avoid temptation.
“Lead us not into temptation.” These words given to us by Christ in the Lord’s Prayer are a powerful reminder that we need His help to stay away from situation in which we will fail. God isn’t playing chess. He won’t pick us up and ‘plop us down’ somewhere else like some pawn in a board game.
This is where God will step in. He may not play chess, but He does speak to our heart. That voice you hear when you are headed in the wrong direction is God’s way to keeping you safe. He warns us throughout the day to avoid temptation. It is up to us to listen to His warnings.
The victory is in the battle. Saint James reminds us, “Blessed is the man who endures trials.” We can’t avoid them altogether, but we should at least avoid the ones we aren’t strong enough to fight off.
One thing is certain. Temptation comes from our desires, not from God. Instead of desiring sin, desire God and you’re already half-way to victory.