Where temptation originates/evil desires
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. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Temptation; it is what we battle continuously every day. The question is, do we recognize it. And if we do recognize it, do we bother to deal with it. Problem is we all are guilty of ignoring temptation to the point we just go ahead and follow the temptation right into sin. But when we do start to realize our temptations, we tend to question “Why is God tempting me?”
James addresses this question in a very straightforward manner. He refers us to the nature of God. God is truth and righteousness12. There is no evil in God, and God cannot be tempted by evil. Therefore, God does not tempt anyone to do evil because if He did, that would be evil. We have to realize, admit, and accept James’ assertion that we are tempted because of the evil desires or lusts within us. We are born in sin3, and sin is a part of our very being. Sin works its way into every thought and desire we have4, and it has been this way since Adam committed the original sin. God does not tempt us, we tempt ourselves, sometimes with the help of Satan. But even when Satan is providing the temptation, he is only taking advantage of the evil lusts already within us.
This understanding of how we are tempted enables us to deal with our temptations. James outlines how our temptations result in sin. First we have a thought fueled by an evil desire. We continue to dwell on that thought and eventually have a plan to put that thought into an action. When we act, we sin, and scripture is very clear, “the wages of sin is death.”5 The thought is the first sin; acting on the thought merely compounds the sin with more sin. It is like a snowball, getting bigger the longer it rolls on.
We have to recognize our sin when it is a mere thought. We do this by “taking captive every thought for Christ6” and filling our minds with all things good and honorable to God7. We have to be on guard, shielding ourselves from outside influences which stir up the evil desires and lusts within us and surround ourselves with people and activities which seek to honor God. This will be a difficult process, sometimes requiring us to avoid family and friends. We can’t always control the things or the people around us, but we can control what goes on in our minds, the things we think about, and whenever possible, move away from the people and activities that cause us to sin.
- Psalms 11:7
- Psalms 89:14
- Psalms 51:5
- Romans 3:10-18
- Romans 6:23
- 2 Corinthians 10:5
- Philippians 4:8