13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
You gotta love James: in the context of assuring us we will have trials, he writes here “when tempted.” Not IF tempted, but when. Keep these verses in context; James has been talking about testing and enduring. In this context, these verses have different light. Every trial brings its temptation. If money is the trial, we are tempted to stop giving our money to the Lord. Worse yet, we may actually question God’s provision.
In attempting to endure the test, we can stumble into sin and accuse God of leading us into sin. Our reasoning is something like this: “God, You brought this trial into my life. I am being tempted to sin, so You are the reason I am sinning.” God brings tests into our lives—that’s true—but God’s intention is not to cause us to sin. His purposes are to build our faith in Him. Therefore, we can’t use the excuse “God is tempting me”. Even blaming God for the actual testing of our faith is a temptation and none of the temptation comes from God. Read verses 14-15:
“but each is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Whose desire tempts us? Our own. Temptation can be like a hook in the water. It grabs us and drags us away. The result of our evil desires is the same as for the fish: death. Clearly not what we are wanting. But the Lord, in His grace, wants us to look to Him as we face trials of any kind. This is how we grow. When you meet someone who is “giant in the faith”, you will notice something: they have been “through it all”. They’ve had their share of tests, trials, and tribulations—usually more than their share when you get to know them! They have stumbled; they have soared. All of this has resulted in the strength of faith we seen in them. This is how we grow.
So as we face trials, which God does bring our way to increase our faith-walk with Him, do not sin by blaming God for temptation. May we recognize the desire to sin is from us and not God and endure the test, trial, or tribulation, knowing “that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:3b-4).