These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
Today we conclude the series “Hooked.” In this series we have been focusing our attention on James 1:13-15 which addresses some key truths about the temptations we face. Let’s review for a few minutes.
- In the first lesson we looked at the definition of temptation. We discovered that a temptation is an invitation to abandon God’s plan for your life. It’s an invitation to abandon God’s plan for your marriage, your finances, your career, your emotions, your relationships, your ministry, and every area of your life.
- In the second lesson we examined the strategy of temptation. We saw that temptation begins with our natural desires, then we are deceived in fulfilling those desires outside of God’s will, which leads to disobedience and eventually to death of some kind (physical death, emotional death, death of a relationship, etc.)
- In the third lesson we covered various ways to defend ourselves against temptation. We learned that God provides many ways out by using our conscience, God’s Word, prayer, running from sin, planning and preparing to face temptation, and others to help us in our walk with God.
- In the fourth lesson we took a look at the three main types of temptations. We saw through the life of Jesus and His battle with the devil in the wilderness that temptation can fall into three main categories: pleasure – The temptation is to believe God wants me to be happy so it must be okay; protection – The temptation is, if God really cares He will not let bad things happen to me; and pride – The temptation is to believe that you don’t really need God to get what you really need.
Today we are going to take a look at why people blame God for their sins or temptations. This is similar to what Adam did in the garden after he sinned and God asked Adam why he disobeyed Him and Adam said, “It’s because of the woman You gave me.” This is blaming God directly or indirectly for the sins, problems, and troubles in your life. James 1:13 puts it this way, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else” (NLT). Why do we blame God for our sins and the consequences of those sins?
Recall: We don’t remember what we need to remember
The first reason deals with our recall: we don’t remember what we need to remember. There are things we need to remember. However, we tend to forget the things we need to remember and remember the things we need to forget. So James begins verse 13 by saying, “And remember…” James is saying, “Don’t forget this. When going through a trial keep this at the forefront of your mind. Think about what I’m telling you when you are being tempted. This is important!”
Circumstances: The setting of your temptation can be difficult
The second reason we blame God for the temptations or the consequences of those temptations is because of our circumstances: the setting of your temptation can be difficult. It’s a trail that is both a test by God and a temptation by the tempter. James says in verse 13, “When you are being tempted….” Some of the most difficult temptations come at the most difficult times of life.
The context of James 1 is “trouble.” This chapter began with verse 2 saying, “When troubles come your way….” When you have trouble with your finances you are tempted to not give. When you have trouble in your marriage you are tempted to give up or look elsewhere. When you have trouble with your health, relationships, job, friends, enemies, or something else you are tempted to doubt God, not trust Him, and to do your own thing a part from God.
Your temptation will usually be in the context of trouble. You are lonely, financially strapped, angry, hurting, worried, or anxious. If you are not careful you will begin to walk away from God at those moments because you think God doesn’t care, that He is to blame, and if He really cared then why doesn’t He do something. Sometimes we blame God for the circumstances we are in.
Rationalizing: Blaming others
The third reason we blame God for the temptations or the consequences of those temptations is because we rationalize: this is where we blame others. James goes on to write in verse 13, “Do not say.” The idea here is, “Do not say to yourself,” that is, rationalize to yourself, that “when you are being tempted” that you are being “tempted” by God. In your heart and mind don’t blame God for the temptation or the consequences of that temptation. Don’t be thinking this is God’s fault.
This could sound like this…
- God allowed this situation to happen.
- God brought this person into my life.
- God made me this way.
- If God is not going to do what I want, then I will not do what He wants.
- I wouldn’t be in this mess if God would have stop this or that. I would not be doubting God if God would have answered my prayer. I would not be ignoring God if God would not have ignore me.
We start rationalizing and justifying our sin. If God would have done this or that, then I would not have sinned. If we don’t blame God then we start blaming others – If my wife would do this, then I would stop doing that. If my parents would have done this, then I would not be doing that.
We start blaming others. James is telling us to remember that we need to watch what we are saying in our heart and mind. You may not say it with your mouth, but you are saying it in your head. James says, don’t do that. It will lead you where you don’t want to go.
Deception: Believing God is the problem
The fourth reason we blame God for the temptation or the consequences of sin is because of deception: we believe God is the problem. The tempter would love for you to blame God for your temptations. The tempter wants you to say, “God is tempting me.” He doesn’t want you to place any responsibility for your sin or the consequences of it on yourself or him, but on God.
In the phrase, “God is tempting me,” there is something we don’t see so easily in our English translations of the Bible. Remember, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. The actual Greek language for the phrase “God is tempting me” emphasizes the truth that no one should say that God is even indirectly responsible for temptation to evil. He is in no way and to no degree responsible, directly or indirectly, for you “being tempted.”
If you start thinking that God is the problem, then the following will happen.
- You begin to place the blame on God, not you.
- You ignore the truth of your own desires being contaminated by sin.
- You get trapped in blaming God and the results are rejecting God.
The phrase “God is tempting me” can sound like this:
- God is the one who placed this person in my life
- God is the one who led me into this situation
- God is the one who caused it to happen
- God is the one who made me this way
The reason why I’m in this relationship is because God wants me to be happy. The reason why I’m rejecting God now is because He rejected me then. The phrase “God is tempting me” is declaring in some way that God is behind the reason for your sin or the circumstance that is causing you to sin.
Blaming God makes you bitter towards God. That’s where the tempter wants to be.
God’s nature: Lack of understanding regarding who God is
The fifth reason we blame God for the temptations in our life or the consequences of our sins is connected to God’s nature: we don’t understand who God is. Specifically, we don’t understand God’s holiness. James makes an important statement about God’s nature when he says, “God is never tempted to do wrong.”
The phrase “never tempted” (apeirastos) carries the idea of being untemptable, without the capacity for temptation. All forms of evil have no draw and pull or influence on God. Due to God’s nature He has no capacity to be tempted or to sin. God and evil exist in two distinct realms that never meet. He has no vulnerability to evil and is utterly impregnable to its onslaughts. He is aware of evil but untouched by it, like a sunbeam shining on a dump is untouched by the trash.
It’s like a powerful magnet that draws metal to itself. Because of the nature of metal, the magnet has a strong pull on the metal. But the magnet has no effect on paper, because the nature of paper does not have in it anything that would draw it toward the magnet. Sin has no draw or pull on God because there is nothing in God that sin can attract. “God is never tempted to do wrong.” He is completely holy, without sin or the capacity to sin.
God’s purpose: Lack of understanding God’s mission
One final reason we blame God for our temptations and the consequences of our sins in connected to God’s purpose: we don’t understand God’s mission for our life. God’s purpose for your life is to experience the abundant life that is found in following Him. He will never lead you to do something outside of His will. James says it this way in verse 13, “And he never tempts anyone else.”
We cannot blame God for our doubts, our greed, our immorality, our jealousy, our outburst of anger, our lack of faith, our worries, our unkindness, our selfishness or any other sin that we comment. God will never lead you away from His will. So you cannot say, “God brought this situation about and God has led me into this sin.”
God’s mission for your life is one that can be described as more than a conqueror, abundant life, full of hope and acts of grace and love. God’s mission for your life is for you to be an example of how God helps people through troubles, encourages people through hard times, and how He there strength when they are weak. His mission for you to be a display of His glory even while in the darkest vallies of your life.
When you are in trouble, going through difficult times, and things are not going well remember James 1:13 which says, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else” (NLT).