Temptation vs. Trial

James 1:13-15

13 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. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

It is noted in my study bible that the original language word for “tempted” here is different from the word “trial” mentioned earlier. Here it means a persuasion to solicit evil as opposed to earlier when it meant to prove the quality of one’s character. Sometimes we assume they both mean the same thing and thus blame God for tempting us. Here it is clear that there is a difference.

In verse 14 we see where temptation originates. A further explanation that God does not tempt us: that temptation originates from our self serving lust, not God. Therefore, God doesn’t tempt us because God does not originate temptation at all. Notice, however, in verse 15 that the self serving lust is not necessarily the sin, but it is the beginning of the path that leads to sin. Remember that Christ was tempted by Satan, and having never sinned, how can we then call temptation a sin? Rather, when we give in to that lust, instead of combating it with God’s strength, and therefore sin.

While lust is usually considered a sexual desire or yearning, it should be noted that it is a desire for anything. The desire to lash out in anger, the desire to steal something we want, the desire to gossip about someone, the desire to get drunk or high, the desire to curse, the desire to…(fill in the blank). Once we give in to satiate that lustful desire, sin is born and thus we are subject to eternal death. This is the death that Jesus overcame for us on the cross. Does this mean we shouldn’t worry about the ramifications of our sins? Paul would say, “may it never be!”

The lesson in this is that God gives us the strength to overcome these lusts. Some of these desires are too strong for us and we must rely on The One who gives us strength through all trials and temptations. I’ve mentioned before that a temptation is not a trial, but a trial can be a temptation. You see, we can be tempted to do something evil. The trial is choosing to turn to Christ in our weakness and taking the way out He provides when we ask for it. THIS is what builds our perseverance so that we can stand firmly on solid ground in His name.

What temptations have you failed at overcoming? How have you prayed for God’s strength during temptation? Have you used the “way out” He provided or did you ignore it and continue to follow that lust until it developed into sin?

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