Online Bible Commentary
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. (NKJV)
In the previous passage, James began on the subject of temptation. He wrote of earthly riches and how the rich should boast when they lose their riches. They should boast because they are now able to draw nearer to God. Just the presence of earthly riches brings with it temptations for sin. So, without that presence the temptation to sin is significantly decreased. Now that is worth boasting about!
In this passage, James goes into more detail about the subject of temptation and God’s part in it. An important point to remember about temptation is that “for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (v. 13). Temptation to commit sin does not come from God. It comes from Satan. Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve in the garden, not God.
James continues by writing “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (v. 14). The literal Greek translation of this verse is “each one but is tempted, by the own lusts being drawn out and being seduced.” Jesus said “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Mt. 15:19). So these lusts are already in our hearts.
For example, sexual immorality, including homosexuality, is in the heart of some people. They have a predisposition to this behavior. This by itself is not sin. It is only when they act on this lust that it becomes sin. These lusts are in our hearts. We are tempted when our lusts are seduced. Satan is the one who tempts us.
Eve had a lust to be “like God” (Gen. 3:5), meaning to have the power of God. So that lust in Eve was already there. Then Satan came along and seduced Eve. Satan’s temptation only became sin when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit.
So, sin is a direct result of acting on our temptation. Sin is an action. We all have lust in our hearts but it only becomes sin when our lust is tempted and we give into that temptation. Since sin is a voluntary action, we cannot say that we sin because of a sickness or because God made us that way. What we can say is that sin is a moral failure.
James continues, “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (v. 15). In other words, if lust gives birth to sin, sin gives birth to death, spiritual death. A lifestyle of sin results in spiritual death, eternity in Hell. The key is to stop lust from birthing sin.
James completes this thought with “Do not be deceived” (v. 16). Many people will try to deceive us as to the nature, and consequences, of sin. They will say that we all do it so it must be okay. They will say that we were born that way and we can’t help it. James has rebutted those false claims in this passage.
James concludes this passage with the solution to birthing sin. It must be stopped at temptation, so that the act of sin does not occur. James writes “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (v. 17).
God, as with everything else, is the solution. God is light. Temptation is from Satan, so it is darkness. God, the light, gives us “every good and perfect gift”, which is in the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came “down” from the Father in Heaven. In referring to the Holy Spirit, Jesus told the disciples “wait for the gift my Father promised” (Acts 1:4).
So the Holy Spirit is God’s gift to every Christian. He helps us to resist temptation, when we yield to Him instead of the temptation. He is consistent. He does not change like a shadow, or darkness. He is not capable of darkness, sin. He does not tempt us to do evil. Instead, He is the solution to temptation. When we yield to the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22) within us, we are able to resist temptation.