Monday, August 23, 2010

God's Sovereignty and Human Temptation (James 1)

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. (James 1:13)

Just as it is common to man to be tempted, it is also common for him to blame someone or something else, not only for his being tempted but also for his succumbing to it. From the beginning, one of the chief characteristics of sin has been the propensity to pass off blame, and every parent knows that children are born with that very evident propensity.

When God confronted Adam with his sin in the Garden of Eden, Adam's reply was, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate" (Gen. 3:12). When the Lord then asked Eve, "What is this you have done?" she replied, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (v. 13). Eve blamed Satan; much worse, Adam blamed God.

James clearly has no patience with a foolish fatalism by which a poor man blames his poverty for turning him into a thief and therefore justifies his stealing, or by which a drunk blames business or domestic problems and pressures for driving him to drink and therefore to the reckless driving that seriously injures or kills someone. Nor does he allow for the notion that "the devil made me do it."

Even more vehemently, James opposes the intolerable idea of blaming God, declaring, Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God." Let no one say translates a present active imperative form of the verb lego (Let ... say), coupled with the negative imperative medeis (no man). The idea is, "Let no person say to himself," that is, rationalize to himself, "that, when he is tempted, he is being tempted by God." The very idea is anathema...

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