Tuesday, April 19, 2016

James Chapter One, Part 3

1:13-14 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. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.

Here we come to a clear statement by James that God is not capable of evil; He is incapable of even being tempted by it. To clarify, the type of evil described in this passage is a Greek word used to define a lack of moral uprightness within someone. It is this absence of a moral fabric that inclines one toward good that brings every sinner into temptation. This particular word is used once more in James to describe the "unruly evil" of the tongue, James 3:8.

This passage makes clear two things immediately. First: saints can and do still sin after being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. John writes twice in succession: "If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us...If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us," 1st John 1:8, 10 (NASB). This is the believer still in the flesh, having not yet entered into perfection and glory once we behold Christ. Before this occurs Paul writes of the human condition, even after being saved: "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh," Romans 7:18, NASB. But "We know that when He (Jesus) appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is," 1st John 3:2, NASB. There will be a future state of sinless perfection achieved when we enter the presence of Christ, either by death or Rapture. Until then, "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God," 1st John 3:9. This is positional. This is what the Christian is in Jesus Christ. We have passed from death into life and will not see judgment; our judgment has been taken away by Christ when He died to save us from our sins. In other words, a believer cannot sin their way out of salvation; once saved always saved is an expressly stated biblical truth, Romans 11:29. But in this last verse quoted we see the warning that perpetual practice of sin defines someone who has not truly been saved but merely given mental assent to some practiced church creed. This habitual sinning, or sinning as a lifestyle like the unsaved is very similar to the attitude of rebellious doubt that prevents a man from receiving from God the gift of true wisdom, James 1:5-7. "For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him," Hebrews 11:6.

Second: the Holy Spirit quells any notion that Jesus, while on earth, might have ever been tempted by sin as you and I are. Jesus is God, and when He was incarnated as the only begotten Son of God when the fullness of the time had come He was never any less so. "For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness should dwell," Colossians 1:19. This verse, past tense, demonstrates that Christ possessed (and possesses still) the full deity while on earth, for the Father "by Him (Jesus)...made peace through the blood of His (Jesus') cross." We can be certain this is in fact what Paul meant because only a short while later he repeats himself, adding for emphasis: "For in Him (Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily," Colossians 2:9. It is a blasphemous assertion to say that Jesus, while on earth, was genuinely tempted to do evil, and it is a shallow and wicked excuse to claim that the salvation Jesus procured on our behalf is less meaningful if He was not capable of being tempted, asserting that Jesus could have failed. This is a juvenile misunderstanding, not only of Scripture but also of God's person, power, and purpose for the universe. A textbook verse advocates of this train of thought produce to prove their claims is Hebrews 4:15, which states "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin." The same word used in James for "tempted" is also found here, the Greek word "peirazo." It predominantly means "A test that causes its recipients to appear as what they always have been." When applied to our Lord this is certainly true. The testing He endured by Satan (to defame Him) and the Father (to demonstrate His sinlessness) vindicate His claims that He is "the only begotten Son of God." If you put a diamond through various trials to determine its quality or nature, the trials would never cause the diamond to fail, because it is what it is by nature and the trials prove it. Likewise, this is how God uses trials to demonstrate if we are in Christ or not; that is, whether we are living with the spiritual power He provides or living carnally in the flesh. Temptation reveals character; it can do nothing else.

In this way God does not tempt men to do evil. We tempt ourselves because we have not heeded the apostle's admonition to mortify the flesh, Colossians 3:5. We are to reckon ourselves dead to sin but alive in Christ, which is what we are positionally, Romans 6:11. When we live carnally we live apart from Christ and open to temptation, which needs little more than our notice to take hold of us and find root in us.

2 comments:

  1. Great post, Ian. So many have struggled with eternal security, not realizing that salvation is entirely the result of God's action in our lives, but that whether we receive it is entirely our choice.

    In answer to your question, I have not found a commentary on Song of Solomon I can recommend.

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  2. Henry Morris actually has a commentary written for Song of Solomon, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes that I find very well done; it in fact the only commentary I have so far found that has been educational. Although yours also has so far proven to be quite insightful as well, so thank you.

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"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

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All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.