Part 4 – What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
This is part 4 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James .
Compiled and written by Norma Becker – a true woman of God and God’s word.
*The Index, with links, to all 15 parts is at the bottom of each page.
What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14
To entice to do wrong by a promise of pleasure or gain. Synonymous with: to seduce, to allure into evil, to persuade.
What are some of the ways we are tempted? , personal gratification, for power, for money, desire for possessions. Do we ever think of such things as ducking responsibilities, withholding goodwill or working out resentments as temptations?
What are some of the excuses people sometimes make for giving in to temptation? It’s the other person’s fault, I couldn’t help it, everybody’s doing it, it was just a mistake, nobody’s perfect, the devil made me do it. Notice it says ‘when’ not ‘if.’
Why is it unthinkable to blame God? There is nothing in God to which evil can make an appeal. He is literally ‘untemptable.’ He often tests, but He never tempts.
According to verse 14, where does temptation begin? With his own evil desires.
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19).
“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it” (Jeremiah 17:9)?
In every temptation, there are three elements; one implied, two stated. First the bait, that is implied. This is usually external and becomes the object of our interest. The desire is stated. Whereas the bait is external, lust rests in the victim’s heart. The allurement and this is stated. In the terms, “carried or dragged away and enticed,” we see that it is allurement that attracts the desire to the bait, whether in fantasy or actuality. These words do not suggest brutality or force, but persuasion. The end result is death. According to Chuck Swindoll he is not referring to physical or spiritual death, but to a ‘death existence.’ There might be pleasure for a time, but the growing emptiness soon overrides the short term enjoyment. This is often what an unbeliever experiences too.
Everyone is Tempted
The devil knows the precise bait each of us prefers. He’s been fishing for souls longer than anyone else on earth. He knows our weaknesses and spends his time trying to get us to strike at his bait.
In verse 14 it talks of desire, then enticement and then sin. Can you think of any examples in the Bible where this is exactly what happened? Genesis 3:6-22 and 2 Samuel 11:2-17. What was the desire, the enticement, the sin?
How to Avoid & Resist Temptations
Let’s look as some verses that can help us avoid and resist temptation as well as encourage us:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalms 119:9-11).
“So if you think you are standing firm be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:12, 13).
“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18 ).
God Does Not Change
“Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be kind of first fruits of all he created” (James 1:16-18).
He says, “Don’t be deceived.” Believing a lie is often much easier than believing the truth. He is saying don’t keep thinking that God is the author or temptation. Instead of sending temptation, God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. The concept of goodness rules out the possibility that God would send an influence as destructive as temptation.
Unlike the shifting shadows that are caused by the sun and to a certain extent the moon, God does not change. With him there is no variation at all. The shadows cast by the sun are minimal at noon, but just before sunset they stretch out for a long ways. God is not like that. He does not change. He is always the giver of good gifts, never someone who would entice us to destroy ourselves in sin.
Then in verse 18 he gives his final reason for denying that God is the author of temptation: “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth.” The word of truth is the gospel so the birth referred to must be spiritual rather than natural. He did this by his deliberate choice so we might be a kind of firstfruits. The term firstfruits referred to the first portion of the harvest given to God. It seems that he means that the early Christians were the beginning of all the people in the future that would be born again.
“My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you” (James 1:19-21).
In our first lesson we said that the reason James wrote this was to bring the early believers to Christian maturity and holiness of life. Verse 18 indicated that salvation comes through the Word of God, now this section emphasizes listening to and receiving the Word then the next section stresses the doing of the Word.
Part 5: What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Index of James Bible Study
Part 1 Who is James?
Part 2 When and to Whom Was James Written?
Part 3 How to Welcome Trials with an Attitude of Joy?
Part 4 What Does ‘Tempt’ Mean?
Part 5 What is the Key to Responding to Trials?
Part 6 Those with True Religion Should Serve
Part 7 Expression of the Character and Will of God Himself
Part 8 Spiritual Maturity
Part 9 Spiritual Maturity continued…
Part 10 What Causes Fights and Quarrels Among You?
Part 11 Is This How We Are To Be?
Part 12 What About My Plans?
Part 13 Let God be the Judge
Part 14 The Power of Prayer & Praise
Part 15 Summary and last part