Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

James 1:12-15 God tempts no one

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, July 13, 2020

Temptation

12 Blessed is the man who endures a trial patiently. When he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God promised to those who love him.

Verse 12 returns to the very first thing James said, which was to consider it to be joy “whenever you fall into all kinds of trials” (James 1:2). Now, having illustrated patience and trials from different stations in life, he assures us all: Those who endure such trials and pass the test will be blessed. To “stand the test” is to endure the trial or the cross without giving up on our faith. We might stumble. We might scream. We might cry into our pillows in the small hours of the night. But we keep our faith, and God wants us to do just that. Trust in him, and you will receive the crown of life.

Our blissful eternity in heaven will have many blessings. Too many to count or number. But Some blessings that are well worth our meditation are described by the Bible.

1, Radical release from sin. The fact that we are told that there will be no more death in heaven (Revelation 21:4) means that the cause of death, sin (Romans 6:23), is annihilated and will have no place in heaven in the same way that a bridal gown is not fitted with a spittoon. The one has no place with the other. There will be no sin of any kind in heaven.

2, Release from the causes of sin. The first cause of sin in man is man’s fallen, sinful flesh. The flesh is rid of sin at death, so that the body is changed, perfected, by Christ at the resurrection. He will “transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). This means that we will also be free from trials and troubles in heaven.

3, Release from the consequences of sin. As Professor Hoenecke put it, “Everything disagreeable, wretchedness, suffering, pain and death in its double form as temporal and eternal death” will be removed instantly and forever in heaven. “The LORD God will wipe away the tears from every face. He will take away the shame of his people throughout the earth. For the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 25:8).

13 No one who is being tempted should say, “I am being tempted by God,” because God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.

Now James takes us from trials to temptations. While it is true that trials (problems and griefs we face in life on account of our faith) may turn into temptations, but temptations can come apart from trials. Temptations are invitations to sin, and we can receive these invitations from friends as well as from strangers, and even from within.

Sinful flesh works ruination,
But the Spirit brings salvation. (Christian Worship 461:2)

The one place that no temptation comes from is from God himself. But isn’t it true that God tests us? What is the difference? Let’s take an example from the Scriptures. Moses clearly says that God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Genesis 22:1). In what way was this a test and not a temptation? Satan tempts us because of our lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:5) and in order to make us fall into sin. God tests us in order to strengthen us so that, at least in part, we may resist sin and temptations, but also show that we can show our faith. By testing Abraham, God gave Abraham a public forum to show his faith in a way that has blessed us to this day.

14 But each person is tempted by his own desires, dragged away and caught with bait. 15 Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.

When I was a boy, my friends and I spent what seemed like every moment of summer daylight at play. One of us would have an idea, and the others would build on it, add further ideas, and one moment’s whim soon turned into a week’s obsession. What is a happy memory for me is also an illustration of something dark and sinister in the unseen spiritual realm. Our sinful flesh is pals with the devil. When he sends a little idea our way, whatever the temptation might be, we act like my childhood chums and add our own ideas to it, and soon revenge, jealousy, lust, schadenfreude, hatred, or gossip, all begin to take root, send out branches and shoots, and bloom into a wretched weed-garden of sin. It is hard to drive away such sins once they appear in the mind. They are like mildew in the walls or rust on the car door. Once there, will they ever be got rid of?

James doesn’t want us to despair about our sin. He wants us to recognize it for what it is, not whitewash it or explain it away. He urges us like a coach to take responsibility for it, confess it, and to know that true healing only comes through Christ.

It was grace in Christ that called me,
Taught my darkened heart and mind,
Else the world had yet enthralled me,
To your heavenly glories blind.
Now I worship none above you;
For your grace alone I thirst,
Knowing well that if I love you
You, O Father, loved me first. (Christian Worship 380:2)

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

Browse Devotion Archive