Friday, April 27, 2007

Stop Blaming God for Your Sin

We have completed our study of trials from James 1:2-12. Now we’re considering temptation. James says in James 1:13-18, “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. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.”

In this passage, James gives us three truths about temptation. The first one appears in verses 13-14 where James exhorts his readers to understand who is the blame for temptation. He states emphatically that God is not the blame for temptation in verse 13, so this should never be our claim. He says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God” (v.13a). The phrase, Let no one say” is in the present tense which means, “Let no one keep on saying.” I also occurs in the middle voice. So the verse actually reads, “Let no one keep on saying to himself.” Last but not least, this is a command.  “James warned against rationalizing our sin and blaming God in the midst of our battle against temptation” (MacArthur). “The prohibition, stated in the singular, demands that ‘no man,’ not a single individual, however severe his testing, is to make such a claim” (Hiebert).

He states in the next phrase when he is not to say this—“When he is tempted” (v.13b). The word “tempted” (periazo) means, “to solicit to evil.” When you are solicited to do evil, you are not to say to yourself that God is the cause. The words “by God” is not hupo, the preposition of direct agency, referring to whomever is the direct cause of something; it is apo, a preposition of origin conveying the idea of remoteness. “The quoted claim does not crudely blame God as directly tempting him, but rather charges that God is behind the situation which produced the temptation. God is responsible for bringing him into such a situation” (Hiebert). Adam said to God in Genesis 3:12, “Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." Job said in Job 31:33-35, “If I have covered my transgressions as Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom, Because I feared the great multitude, And dreaded the contempt of families, So that I kept silence And did not go out of the door—Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark. Oh, that the Almighty would answer me, That my Prosecutor had written a book!” In Exodus 32:21-24 we read, “And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?"  So Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out." We even read in 1 Samuel 15:7-9, “And Saul attacked the Amalekites, from Havilah all the way to Shur, which is east of Egypt. He also took Agag king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” Samuel questions Saul’s actions in 1 Samuel 15:19-24, “Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the Lord?" And Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord, and gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal." So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king." Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” All of these passages illustrate how man blames someone else––ultimately God—for their sin. Proverbs 19:3 says, “The foolishness of a man twists his way, And his heart frets against the Lord.”

James rejects this kind of rationality and states his reason in verse 13. He says, “For God cannot be tempted by evil.” “For” introduces a twofold reason for the rejection of this claim. It rests on the character and activity of God. The claim is inconsistent with God’s character because “God cannot be tempted by evil.” “Cannot be tempted” translates the verbal adjective apeirastos, which does not occur elsewhere in the NT or the LXX. Moffatt suggests that it was coined by James. This negative adjective is derived from the verb perazo, “to tempt,” used 3 times in this verse alone. Such verbal adjectives can be either active or passive in meaning. The active would mean “not tempting to evil,” while the passive means “not tempted of evil.” The context here calls for the passive meaning. The word for “evil” is a neuter plural adjective without an article and denotes things that have the moral quality of being base and degrading, the opposite of the morally good, the wholesome and beneficial. God is unsusceptible to evil; evil never has any appeal for Him. It is repugnant and abhorrent to Him (Hiebert 103-104). Psalm 5:4 says, “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, nor shall evil dwell in You.” Hab.1:13 says, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness.”

God tempts no man to sin (v.13d). James includes that thought in the next phrase—“Nor does He Himself tempt anyone.”This claim is also contrary to God’s actions. The argument is that His character makes such conduct impossible. D. Edmond Hiebert says, “The fact of human temptation is a sad reality, but God ‘himself’ (autos), because of what He is, never solicits anyone to do what is morally wrong. It is corrupted human nature which turns into evil that which God meant for our good” (105). Ps.23:3 says, “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

So James says, when you are tempted or solicited to evil you are not to keep on saying to yourself that you were tempted by God because God is untemptable. He doesn’t lead people into sin, He leads them into righteousness. Where does the blame for our sin lie? We will consider that question tomorrow. For now, stop blaming God for your sin. You say, “I’m not doing that.” You are if you think He orchestrated the events that led you into sin. God is a holy God and He does not tolerate sin.

No comments: