Overcoming Temptation – v.12-15
James now introduces us to the concept of temptation and unmasks the one who is responsible. Let’s start by understanding where temptation comes from: in the text it says that God does not tempt anyone; that narrows our list of suspects down to one, Satan. The design of a temptation is to get us to fail, to take our eyes off of Jesus and to destroy our credibility with those who know us. Temptation, according to verse 13, is an invitation to do evil. Satan enters our minds in the hopes of making evil look good. Satan even stands before God accusing us of evil. Rev 12:9-10 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
The receiving of a crown is mentioned in verse 12. We find this elsewhere in scripture: The Crown of … Righteousness – 2 Tim 4:8, Life – James 1:12 and Glory – 1 Peter 5:4. Some consider these different crowns while others believe they are the same crown using different descriptions. Either way we are challenged to keep ourselves from temptation because one day we will be rewarded. (This is not a complete list of crowns)
In verse 15 there is a sad progression of allowing temptation to draw us away from God. It starts with what appears to be a harmless thought; Satan doesn’t mind starting small. If we open the door just a little our failures will start to mount up until we find ourselves destitute of all that is good. We cannot afford to play around with sin; Satan is too crafty and sin is too addictive. Don’t get trapped!
Remember back in Elementary when you would be talked into doing something you should not have done? That same person who talked you into it was the one laughing at you the most when you got caught. This is exactly how Satan works; he tells us anything we want to hear and if we fall for it he laughs at us.
The next time temptation comes calling think about Satan pointing a finger at you and laughing. Satan wants to destroy us one bad decision at a time.
God’s Goodness Contrasted – v.16-18
James doesn’t really change the subject but rather draws our attention to what God offers. Satan leads you down a road to destruction whereas God desires to fill us with peace and contentment. Sin never satisfies! What Satan presents as good is really bad. (We have all been tempted before to a point where it sounded so good we let our guard down and committed sin. Afterwards, usually right afterwards, we are ashamed and sorry we let it happen) When we receive good things from God we can trust that what He gives us is truly good and will not leave us ashamed.
When God made us we were given a conscience to guide us: In those quiet moments when we are alone with our thoughts, do we like who we are and what we have become? “I am happy, look at my cars” “I am satisfied, look at the size of my house” “I have arrived, look at my bank accounts”
Possessions aside, the real answer we should be looking for is “I am blessed; I have peace in my heart”.