Lesson 4

The Epistle of James

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him. 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God," for God can't be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. 1:14 But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. 1:15 Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. 1:16 Don't be deceived, my beloved brothers. 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, nor turning shadow. 1:18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.  

Today's Lesson 

James writes a letter to prepare those under his care for difficult times. He writes to them that they should count it all joy when they face trials and temptations. Trials lead to endurance and endurance leads to being whole, complete in Christ. If they don't know how to face their trials, if they donít know the right and godly way that they should live, they should ask it of God. God will give them wisdom, the understanding of righteousness, and He will give them wisdom with reproach.


So, "blessed is the man that endures temptations." Enduring temptation leads to patience and righteousness. The man that endures will receive a crown of life. The crown is a promise and a sign God gives to those that love Him. To love God with all of our heart, soul and mind is the very thing that we are created to do. It is the goal of our lives and when we complete our goal we are rewarded with a crown; a crown of life.


It would be natural to conclude that if enduring temptations is so beneficial, the temptations themselves might be sent from God. Indeed, some cults of Christianity have concluded this very thing. But James warns against this heresy. God is not tempted by evil, nor does He tempt any man with evil. God and evil are like oil and water. They do not mix. God is never the source or the instrument of the evil that we experience.


But, God does give us the means to overcome evil. Paul teaches, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Every good gift comes down from the Father. In God there is no variation - no shadow. That means that there is not an evil portion mixed in with the good. Even the good that men do is sometimes tainted by the evil that is in them. We see that when spiritual leaders fall. Even the best of men betrays himself and betrays those around him. But God is not like that. There is no dark side to His goodness. There is no shadow in the light of His presence.


When we are tempted, it is not from God but from our own lust. Our evil comes from our own heart. Evil begets sin and when sin is grown it brings forth death. The seed of our own eventual destruction lies within us, but God did not plant that seed. Each man and each woman freely chooses to rebel against God.


But God decrees that the seed of sin and lust that lies within will not enslave all men. He sent His own Son to die as a sacrifice so that those who believe in His will find a new life, a new seed. We are created anew by "the word of truth." We are the first fruits of God's new creation.


God uses the things of this world to create something new, something holy. The evil in this world did not come through Him, but He can transform it. He overcomes it with His word of truth. The embodiment of that word is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Through Him we are the first fruits. Through Him we become the righteousness of God.


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