Jas 1:12-15 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
The Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, is quoted as having said “I can resist anything except temptation.” This describes our human condition when left on our own. As the children of God, we have a powerful means to resist, or endure, temptation. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1Cor 10:13).”
We are tempted by things that are common to mankind, but God is faithful. He will not allow us to be afflicted by any temptation that He will not provide a means of escape from. Our power over temptation is not magic; we don’t just snap our fingers and have it disappear. We are blessed when we persevere through the temptation (adversity) by faith in God and His promises. Our way of escape is not relief from adversity, but rather grace to endure (bear) our adversity.
The temptations we face are a trial (or proving) of our confidence in God. When we are tried, and trust Him for a way to escape, there is a crown of life waiting for us. This is not a promise of what we refer to as Eternal Heaven; that was secured for us by Jesus on the cross. Instead, this is a promise of a life of abundance in Him while we live in His kingdom here. In keeping His commandments (our proof that we love Him [Joh 14:15]), we receive the crown of life. This abundant life is our crown from Him which bears testimony of His faithfulness to us as we bear adversity.
When we yield to temptation (rather than endure it), we have one of two reactions. Either we want to claim “the devil made me do it” or we want to blame God. As to the first excuse, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world (1Jn 4:4).” If we are looking to God, the devil does not have the strength to make us do anything. The second excuse is almost as old as mankind; Adam tried to make his transgression God’s fault because God gave Eve to be with Him (Gen 3:12).
It is folly to try and blame God when we are enticed. It is impossible for God to be tempted by depravity (evil), and God does not tempt us with depravity. Because we were made subject to vanity does not mean that we have to sin, but depravity is in our nature and we are often eager to yield to it. We are tempted by our own carnal desires, and when we yield to those desires, we are drawn away from God. If we give in to lust, then we commit sin. Every time we commit sin, it brings forth death.
We know that the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life. However, there is more than one “death” described in the word of God. When we willfully sin, there is a death involved that usually has nothing to do with being taken to the cemetery. As God’s people, we know that He has made us a way to escape every temptation. When we do not avail ourselves of that and choose to give in to our lust, death follows close behind.
We may suffer death (separation) to peace in our life. We may suffer the death of our closeness with someone we love. We may suffer the death of someone’s trust in us. Be assured that when lust conceives it brings forth sin, and when sin is finished it brings forth death. There is a great blessing for us in enduring temptation and receiving the promise of the crown of life from Jesus who cannot lie.
May we always have grace to know that with every temptation there is a way of escape that God has provided us so that we might live the life of those loved by Jesus!