Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Chronicles 13-14
James 1
Amos 8
Luke 3

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

James 1:13 (CSB): “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

If we want to find someone to blame when we are tempted to sin, especially if we fall into sin, we blame Satan. Why not?! After all, in doing so, we get to blame someone other than ourselves and who better to blame than the most wicked being in the universe?

“The devil made me do it!”

Well, Satan IS to blame much of the time. When we look at the story when David sought to comfort himself in his military might, rather than relying upon the Lord, we see that he fell to the temptation and Satan was to blame.

1 Chronicles 21:1 (CSB): “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to count the people of Israel.”

This verse simply states that the sin that David committed of numbering his army and thus depending upon his military might (that resulted in the death of many Israelites) was caused by Satan. David could have rightfully blamed Satan!

Or could he?

When we read further, we realize that David didn’t blame Satan. He took full responsibility for the sin.

1 Chronicles 21:17 (CSB): “David said to God, ‘Wasn’t I the one who gave the order to count the people? I am the one who has sinned and acted very wickedly…’”

So, was it Satan or was it David that caused the sin? Well, before we answer that question, let’s look at one more verse. This same story is told in 2 Samuel.

2 Samuel 24:1 (CSB): “The LORD’s anger burned against Israel again, and he stirred up David against them to say, ‘Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.’”

So, David claims he was the one who committed the sin. Yet, we also read that Satan moved David to commit the sin. Further, we read that God’s anger was directed at David and thus He moved David to number the people and commit the sin.

Honestly, when we try to figure out who was to ‘blame’ for David’s sin, we’re left dumbfounded. We feel like a kindergarten student looking at a college level calculus equation. We can’t understand it … but that doesn’t mean that the equation is not accurate and true.

So, what are we to make of James 1:13-15 where we are told that God doesn’t tempt us?

James 1:13 (CSB): “No one undergoing a trial should say, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone.”

If we look carefully at James 1:13-15, we may read between the lines and understand what issues James may have been addressing. Apparently, there were folks who were excusing their sin by saying, “I was tempted by God!” James quickly tossed that argument out by saying that God isn’t tempted nor does He tempt anyone.

Yet, James is not saying that God doesn’t send difficulties into our lives (see James 1:2-4). God even sends things into our lives that will lead to sin (e.g. Jesus sent the Apostles into the Garden of Gethsemane where they slept instead of prayed and then ran like cowards when Jesus was forcibly taken). God sends good things and bad things our way. His desire is that we always take the escape hatch referenced in 1 Corinthians 10:13 but some folks will not take the escape hatch and will sin.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (CSB): “No temptation has come upon you except what is common to humanity. But God is faithful; he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to bear it.”

One essential ingredient of temptation is a sinful heart (James 1:14-15). Without it, nothing at all would be tempting. (Imagine someone who has just stuffed themselves with a Thanksgiving dinner. Further, imagine that someone puts a sinfully delicious pie in front of them. It’s NOT going to be a temptation because that person has no desire whatsoever for the pie. Something is a temptation ONLY when it is met with sinful desires.)

It is in that way that we are to understand that God does not tempt us. Does He allow difficulties to come our way? Of course. Otherwise, how could He make the promise of Romans 8:28? Does He allow sinful opportunities to come our way? Of course. He could keep them from us but sometimes, He doesn’t.

Yet, His desire in those times of trial is that we grow from the experience (James 1:2-4) and take the 1 Corinthians 10:13 escape hatch. Yet, sending things our way does not constitute temptation. Temptation only occurs when we meet the things God sends our way with a sinful heart.

But there is another principle that is activated in the stories of Pharaoh and David (and many more in Scripture) that I referenced above. It’s the principle that is illustrated in Romans 1:18-32. When God’s patience has been exhausted and His wrath becomes evident, it is sometimes manifested in the removal of His protective hand to allow a person or a nation to continue down a sinful path that they are intent on traversing. Pharaoh was insistent that he would reject any notion of an Israelite exodus so God gave him over to that option. David was insistent on numbering the people so God’s wrath gave him the ability to exercise that option and experience the negative consequences.

There is so much more we could address but hopefully this article has been helpful in explaining how God doesn’t tempt us to sin while sending things into our experience that we find tempting.

* * * * * * * * * *

Lord Jesus, I realize that if my heart was pure, I would never be tempted by anything. Yet, with a sinful heart, a multitude of things are tempting. Please help me to pursue and achieve greater degrees of holiness. I want to love You and righteousness and lose my appetite for sin. I pray this in Your Name. Amen.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash