The General Epistle of James (Part 6)
A. James pronounces blessing upon those who endure temptation.
1. bless: To declare to be supernaturally favoured; to pronounce or make happy. To
pronounce words that confer (or are held to confer) supernatural favour and well-being.
2. Mind the verb tense, “Blessed IS...” Though there is a future promised crown, the
blessedness is current.
a. Compare this with MAT 5:3-12.
b. Note especially MAT 5:10-12. Those who are tried because of righteousness are
blessed now and have expectation of future reward.
c. Mind that there are two groups of whom Jesus said, “...theirs is the kingdom of
heaven” (MAT 5:3, 10): the poor in spirit, and those persecuted for righteousness' sake. Humble sinners who trust God for righteousness and suffer for their faith
are particularly noted to possess the kingdom of heaven.
3. Mind that to bless includes “pronounce or make happy.”
a. James later says, “Behold, we count them HAPPY which endure...” (JAM 5:11).
b. The blessedness is not to the man who is exposed to temptation, but to the man who
(1) Many are exposed to temptation/trial but do not endure. MAT 13:20-22. (2) The blessed man for whom the crown awaits is the man who fights the good
fight of faith to the end. REV 2:10.
(3) The word here translated as tried (dokimos, SRN G1384) is everywhere else
translated as approved (proved or established by experience). The approved
believer is one who endures the trial. c/w 1CO 11:19.
B. There is a connection of elements here: the man (believer) who endures temptation is one who
loves the Lord.
1. One's love of the Lord is in question if his faith caves in under pressure. Which did he love
more: the Lord or his own welfare?
2. Love is KEEPING God's commandments. JOH 14:15, 21.
3. This promise is not to such as give up on the keeping of God's commandments.
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4. Though Job was sorely tempted, he did not abandon faith. JAM 5:11; JOB 13:15. C. The blessing for the enduring believer is that a crown of life awaits a successful trial.
1. crown: Something which occupies the position of a crown; the top or highest part of anything. fig. That which crowns anything; the crowning, consummation, completion or perfection.
2. The crowning or perfection of a submitted life lived in faithful endurance of trials now is everlasting life. MAT 19:29.
3. This crown will be received at Christ's appearing. MAT 25:31-34, 46; ROM 2:5-7.
4. Everlasting life was secured by Christ for His elect. JOH 17:3; 1JO 5:11.
5. Those who thus love the Lord show themselves to be the elect objects of His own purpose
and grace which results in their glorification. ROM 8:28-30 c/w 2TI 1:9.
6. This is a reward reckoned entirely of grace, not debt. The elect did nothing to earn it.
ROM 4:4; 6:23.
D. (1CO 16:22) If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
A. Some had had weaknesses or failures in the pressures that James had just presented as being expected, enjoyable and endurable.
1. The pressures were temptations in the sense of trials of faith as God had given Abraham.
GEN 22:1 c/w HEB 11:17.
2. The weaknesses or failures relative to those pressures would be temptations in the sense of enticements to do evil.
3. James here shifts to counter any notion that since God authors the former kind (and is therefore responsible for them) that He also authors the latter kind (and is therefore responsible for them also).
B. James is drawing clear lines between things that come from God above and things which do not.
1. Enticements to do evil do NOT come from above.
2. Sensual, carnal wisdom does NOT come from above. JAM 3:14-15.
3. Every good and perfect gift, including divine wisdom, DOES come from above.
JAM 1:17; 3:17.
4. Our corrupt nature has a bent to pervert these simple facts: we naturally take credit for what good God alone has given us while holding Him responsible for the bad that we do. This is Adam's and Eve's legacy to their posterity. GEN 3:6, 12.
5. (PRO 15:24) The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.
C. God is not the source of moral evil. 1JO 2:16.
1. In this sense none can say, “...I am tempted of God...” (v. 13).
2. “for God cannot be tempted with evil...” (v. 13).
a. God is uniquely and absolutely holy. 1SAM 2:2; 1JO 1:5.
b. He abominates sin. HAB 1:13; PSA 5:4-5.
3. “...neither tempteth he any man” (v. 13).
a. It never even enters His mind that men ought to sin. JER 19:5.
b. To make God the responsible source for temptation to sin is to equate Him with
Satan who is the Tempter (MAR 1:13) and this equality is exactly what Satan
4. The culpability for yielding to temptation is NEVER God's; it is ALWAYS the creature's.
a. It is by MAN that sin entered the world through Satan's temptation. ROM 5:12.
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b. It is always MAN that is responsible for yielding to temptation and therefore suffering the consequences. PRO 5:22-23; 19:3; ECC 7:29; GAL 2:18.
c. Sinners “...perish in their own corruption” (2PE 2:12).
d. (JAM 4:1) From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not
hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
D. It is true that God has created all that gives occasion to sin.
1. He created Lucifer (who became Satan, the tempting devil). EZE 28:13.
2. He made man a morally accountable being with rational capacity to choose. GEN 2:16-17.
3. He is the Lawgiver (JAM 4:12) and without Law there could be no sin.
1JO 3:4 c/w ROM 4:15.
a. The law was holy, just and good. ROM 7:12-13.
b. The fault was not with God or His law but with man. ROM 8:3; HEB 8:7-8.
E. The idea of making God responsible for temptation was posited by a poet and rebuffed by a poet.
1. “I saw thy pulse's maddening play
Wild send thee pleasure's devious way, Misled by fancy meteor ray,
By passion driven:
But yet the light that led astray
Was light from heaven.” (The Vision, Robert Burns)
2. “It could not be; no light from heaven Has ever led astray:
Its constant stars to guide are given, And never to betray.
When passion drives to wild excess, And folly wakes to shame,
It cannot make the madness less
To cast on heaven the blame.
The light that seemed to shine on high, And led thee on to sin,
Was but reflected to thine eye
From passion's fire within.
O spurn the guilty thought away! Eternity will tell,
That every light that led astray Was light that shone from hell.” (Rev. James D. Burns)
F. If God is the source of temptation to do evil, then it could be argued that when one yields to the temptation, he is actually doing God's will.
1. If one is doing God's will, why would He find fault? ROM 3:5.
2. If one is doing God's will, he “...abideth for ever” (1JO 2:17). Sin, therefore, is as much
an evidence of eternal life as faith and righteousness.
3. One might even say, “...Let us do evil, that good may come...” (ROM 3:8).
a. Sin does NOT work for one's good. It is NOT one of those things that “...work together for good to them that love God...” (ROM 8:28).
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b. Sin separates one from God. ISA 59:2.
c. Sin withholds good things from us. JER 5:25.
d. The flesh and the spirit are “...contrary the one to the other...” (GAL 5:17).
e. (ISA 5:20) Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for
light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
G. Temptation is owing to one being “...drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (JAM 1:14).
1. Being drawn away implies deception. JOS 8:16.
2. This is the very nature of carnal lusts: they are deceitful. EPH 4:22.
3. entice: To stir up; incite, instigate (to a course of action); also to provoke (to anger). Obs.
2. To allure, attract by the offer of pleasure or advantage; esp. to allure insidiously or adroitly.
a. allure: To attract by the offer of some advantage or pleasure; to tempt by something
flattering or acceptable; to entice; to win over.
b. insidious: Full of wiles or plots; lying in wait or seeking to entrap or ensnare;
proceeding or operating secretly or subtly so as not to excite suspicion; sly,
treacherous, deceitful, underhand, artful, cunning.
c. Satan is full of wiles; he has many fiery darts (EPH 6:16) of lust burning in us.
4. This is how sin overcomes us: it has an ally in the flesh (lust) that deceives us into seeing and preferring the perceived advantage of yielding.
a. A temptation to sin would have no power to entice us if we had no lust for the thing
presented in the temptation.
b. Jesus Christ alone could say that Satan “...hath nothing in me” (JOH 14:30).
c. NOTE: The enticement may be presented as something that satisfies a genuine
5. The image sexual sin.
need: perhaps hunger, security, housing, love, sex, significance, etc.
Our needs do not determine the rightness or wrongness of an action.
Our God determines the rightness or wrongness of an action by His law. Our God knows our needs/cares and requires us to seek satisfaction by right priorities and actions. MAT 6:31-33.
Our God is able to “...supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (PHIL 4:18).
It was by a foolish independence from God for the sake of human need and desire that Satan beguiled Eve. GEN 3:6.
here set forth in vs. 14-15 is as the strange woman who entices a man into PRO 7:6-23.
a. Lust is as dangerous as a harlot who offers pleasurable “advantages.”
b. “He goeth after her straightway...” (PRO 7:22) c/w “...led away with divers lusts...”
c. Corrupt men in general know full well how to “...allure through the lusts of the
flesh...” (2PE 2:18).
H. It is NOT a sin to be tempted or feel a lust.
1. If that were the case, then Christ was a sinner. HEB 4:15.
2. The sin occurs when the lust draws us away from what is right and we become enticed, the
point where we are stirred up and attracted to action by the sinful proposition.
3. This is the womb of sin: the evil concupiscence (vehement desire) in the lusts of the
heart. MAT 5:28.
4. Lust has conceived at this point, per v. 15.
5. What follows is sin and death. v. 15.
6. This is why it is critical to not indulge lust since it will draw the soul away into sin.
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a. Sin is obeyed in its lusts. ROM 6:12.
b. Flee lusts at their inception rather than let them mature. 2TI 2:22.
c. The Jewish rabbin even note: “Evil concupiscence is, at the beginning, like the
thread of a spider’s web; afterwards it is like a cart rope.” (Sanhedrim, fol. 99)
I. v. 15 sets forth the genealogy of death.
1. Lust conceives and brings forth sin.
2. Sin brings forth death.
3. This is not an endless genealogy (1TI 1:4). It has an end: death.
EZE 18:4; ROM 6:21-23.
4. This is a stark contrast to the crown of life which is the end of faithfulness. v. 12.
J. Spiritual death, bodily death, death to fellowship and eternal death all result from sin.
1. Indulged lust will deceive you to death.
2. This is why evil desire must be mortified before it causes us to be mortified. COL 3:5.
K. This instruction concurs with the bigger picture of the epistle.
1. If believers would be perfect and have a profitable religion, they must deal with sin.
2. They must accept responsibility for sin and not charge it upon God.
3. Sin must be dealt with at the level of the lust.
4. Errors as to the cause and progression of sin will only weaken resistance to it.
L. (JAM 1:16) Do not err, my beloved brethren.
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