I never got around to posting the notes for last week’s study, but here they are. During the previous week, studying the opening of James’ letter, we had seen that we are to think about trials as a reason to be happy, because we know they are producing something in us which will move us towards true maturity. Second, if we need wisdom to think this way, we only have to ask God, and he’ll give it. Enduring is worth it, because of the reality of eternity, and of the eternal rewards coming to those who endure.
Last Monday’s study was on James 1:12-18.
One more thing to know about trials: we need to understand how temptation works and where it’s from. The word in the original text for “trial” and “temptation” is the same. So why translate them differently? Because v.13-14 explain this is a particular kind of trial which is a little different than the general idea of “anything difficult that tries your faith” in v. 2-4. The trials in v. 2-4 seem to be situations where the evil that is coming our way is disagreeable to us—we don’t want it, we don’t like it, and we’d get out of it if we could. But the second kind of trial, in v.13-15, is a situation that is agreeable to us, or at least a part of us—inside of us is something that would want it to happen. In English our word for that kind of trial is “temptation.” 1:13 says “Know this—That part of the trial is not from God. God does not deal in evil. He isn’t tempted by it, and he doesn’t try to entice people to do evil.”
One important thing to remember: in every trial is some temptation. In most trials, there is some temptation which offers us something sinful which will make the trial go away or get us out of the situation.
So, if the temptation to sin isn’t from God, where’s it from? These verses say it’s from you. Evil happens when something appeals to something in us, and we go along with it. So we can’t blame God for this. We can’t say that he personally made us sin, and we can’t say he set things up so that we had no choice but to sin.
A General Rule: We can’t offload our personal responsibility for our own sin on to something else outside of us. God’s not tricking us or trying to get us to break his own law. That would be contrary to his very nature, as we see in…
Instead of trying to entice people to evil, God gives every good gift. With him, it’s all light, all the time. This means two things:
- We can trust God—he’s not going to change on us and start giving us darkness.
- We should not be deceived by temptation—good and perfect things come from God, not from things God tells us are evil. Evil only leads to death (v.15), not the greater life it always promises. Only God gives real life. That’s the message of verse 12.
v.14-17 also show us this about the connection between desires and goodness and life:
- Simply acting according to our desires is not “good.” Good only comes from God. So if we desire something God himself tells us is not from him, then our desires are not good.
- Following our desires is not the way to find life. Many of our desires will lead to death, because they will give birth to sin. Only God gives life. So we must come to him to get it. If we will not come to him, we will not have it.
So the key to finding true goodness and true life is to come to God to receive it from him, and to even be willing to press through trials when they come.
Tonight we’ll continue our study in James chapter 1. See you there!