James 1:13-15 13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Let’s just get this one thing straight: God doesn’t tempt us or make us suffer so that we will learn our lesson. God doesn’t give cancer to teach endurance and joy in suffering and He doesn’t cause relationship strife to see if your marriage has what it takes. He doesn’t put a bottle in the hand of an alcoholic and He doesn’t increase the rain on the depressed. God does not tease and taunt His children. It’s like a guy saying, “I am going to go to the strip club with some buddies tonight. I know God is testing me to see if I have a lust problem, but I am going to be strong and not lust while I am there.” Excuse me while I barf.
But we get confused about all this. After all, we just finished reading Hebrews and in chapter 12, verse 7 it says “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” What is that supposed to mean? Let me tell you – hardship comes. It is inevitable. Sometimes we make choices that get us out from under God’s covering. Sometimes life just happens, economies stink and people are mean. Hardship comes and if we can learn to ask the Holy Spirit how to grow from it then we just might. God may even use the circumstances of life to show us the discipline and correction we so desperately need.
James, however, wants to set the record straight. He is telling us that most of our trouble comes from our own evil desires. We get ourselves into these messes. When we begin to blur the boundaries of right and wrong a mess ensues. Don’t go blaming God for that! Giving into the desires of the flesh is what started this whole mess with Mr. and Mrs. Adam & Eve. (Thanks a lot guys, but even if you would have done well, someone else would have blown it along the way, I’m sure.) When we allow those desires to fester and go left unchecked, something unpleasant happens – an unwanted pregnancy. And that unwanted pregnancy of unchecked desire is a snot-nosed little brat named Sin. Sin is a horrible kid. She breaks everything, ruins relationships with people you like, wets the bed, has temper-tantrums, disobeys, and doesn’t even eat her vegetables. Oh, but it gets worse. Sin grows up and has an another unwanted pregnancy, thus giving you a grandchild. But this child’s name is death, and I think you can figure out what kind of a kid Death is.
The bottom line is this: we cannot let these desires and temptations go left unchecked. We need to do what II Cor. 2:5 says and “take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.” And while we are at it, let’s stop blaming God for the mess we are in. He isn’t the tempter and He isn’t the problem. He is the SOLUTION!