12Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13Let not one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15The desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The Story: James needs to make a distinction between “trials” and “temptations” – in particular, because the same word is used in the Greek language for each. Someone coming under a “trial” – such as persecution – might justify his resort to trusting in his wealth – paying the synagogue tax? – by saying that God had brought him to this “temptation” so what could he do? James says temptation is a form of trial that suggests we will be better off by rebelling against God. Helmut Thielicke defined temptation as finding ourselves in a place of wanting to be disloyal to God. God does not make such suggestions. Rather, whenever trials confront us, leading to temptation, or in the face of any kind of temptation, it is our own sinful desires, arising from the law of sin still operating in our hearts (Rom. 7:21-23), which incline us to deny our faith and disobey the will and Word of God. A richer fuller experience of faith here and now, and a stronger assurance of eternal glory (v. 12), awaits those who persevere in the face of trials and temptations, whereas those who yield to base lust fall into sin, leading to spiritual death – if not eternally, certainly for a season, until they are renewed by confession and repentance (1 Jn. 2:8-10).
The Structure: James returns to the idea of steadfastness, introduced in verse 3. Steadfastness comes by resisting temptation. Temptation can thus be a means of growing in our faith. If we do not rejoice in the face of trials, those trials may lead us to be tempted to find some other way to restore the peace which trial has interrupted. Any way other than the wisdom of God is sin, and will only lead to disappointment and the need for repentance. We show that we love God (v. 12) by rejoicing in the face of trials and resisting the inclination of our sinful hearts to look for some “other way” out of our difficulties. This is true whenever we are confronted with temptation, whether as a result of trials or not. Temptation is not sin; but if we’re not careful to recognize and resist temptation, it can surely lead us there.
How should Christians resist temptation when faced with it? Ask a few of your Christian friends. How can you encourage and help one another to grow through temptation unto greater steadfastness of faith, rather than fall through it into sin and shame?
For more insight to the epistle of James, order the book, James: A Commentary, by Guy N. Woods, from our online store.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.