Every person seeking to follow Christ will most assuredly encounter tempation along the way. This is an unavoidable fact that we must be willing to deal with. It is during these times of temptation that what we believe about God and about His salvation becomes clear. We quickly see what the things we turn to are and who we blame for our situation. But James makes it clear, that being able to stand up in the face of temptation is a valiant expression of our faith; one that leads to eternal glory. Furthermore, God is there every step of the way through our times of temptation to see us through to the other side.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
Heading Temptation Off At The Beginning
James discusses a clear progression of whee temptation starts and where it leads. It goes from temptation to desire to death. The best point in dealing with temptation comes at its inception, not when it is desired. Most people understand that temptations are sinful and against the perfect plan God has for us. In dealing with our temptation, we do not lean on our strength but on the object of our faith. God is able to give us the strength to fend off the temptation by putting our attention on Him and saving us from the clutches of death. Yet, even if a person has traveled all the way to desire and to death, our God is a God who brings the dead to life. However deep you may be in temptation and sin, God will always offer a path for your return.
Everyone’s Temptation Is Different
It’s important to note, though, that everyone’s temptation is different. Some will be tempted by one thing where other people are tempted by completely different ones. While the enemy undoubtedly uses this to divide us as a people, instead we are able to lock arms together. We borrow strength from each other and stand with one another in each other’s temptation. There is no need to downplay or belittle someone else’s temptation as our does not make sense to other. Instead, we can few this as an opportunity to stand with one another and put the fullness of God on display.
And God is fully good. Everything good gift we have received is from God. In dealing with temptation, James does not want us to focus on our temptations or on our failings, but on the goodness that comes from God. Furthermore, God’s goodness is everywhere we look when we put our attention into seeing it. The goodness of God is on full display in our lives when we see the world and its many gifts that God delivers to us on a regular basis. What better provision for dealing with our temptation than by seeing how God has continually provided for us.
Temptation is an opportunity to reveal the depth and extent of our faith. This is why we are blessed by standing up to temptation. Rather than shielding and insulating people from temptation, God uses it to develop the believer into spiritual maturity and real relationship with Him. Our reliance upon Him strengthens as He sees us through each temptation.