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Does God Tempt Us?

Day 5 | Today’s passage: James 1:13-15 | Historical context of James

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Sin is fun. There, I’ve said it. Sin is attractive and gratifying. Whether we like to admit it or not, this is why we turn to it. As American speaker and writer Rosaria Butterfield quipped, “If your sin doesn’t feel good, you’re doing it wrong.” To be sure, she isn’t encouraging Christians to sin; she’s simply stating the obvious—sin feels really pleasurable.

James puts it this way: “Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (v. 14) That’s certainly true of my experience. Whenever I sinned, it’s because I was carried away by my pride or anger, or seduced by my desire for drink or pornography.

So I can appreciate why James uses the sexually-charged word “entice”: in the moment of temptation, the desire to sin feels powerfully seductive. It’s an alluring call that’s hard to resist. Surely it won’t hurt, I think. Just this once. How bad can it be?

That’s when I’d discover that sin never, ever delivers on its promise of pleasure. Sin is a big, fat cheque that will never cash. Ultimately, it only defrauds us and costs us dearly.

You might ask, then: If sin is so bad, why does God allow us to fall into temptation? Why does He put us into tempting situations, and set us up to fail? Such thoughts, however, could show that we haven’t truly understood the heart and character of God.

James tells us, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (v. 13). God is good through and through.
Unlike us, He cannot be swayed by evil, nor does He want us to be, for He knows the harm we will suffer when we give in to temptation. As James says, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (v. 15)

Giving in to our evil desires, according to James, is like being “dragged away” into the bed of an evil person who has seduced us. From that illicit sexual union, desire gives birth to sin which, over time, produces spiritual death in our lives. This vivid imagery should help us to grasp the gravity of sin and the severity of its effects. Though it may look and feel pleasurable, it’s actually destructive and deadly to us.

God’s heart for us is not to suffer sin’s death-dealing blows, but to enjoy His life-giving goodness for us—which is found in obedience to Him and His Word.
Let’s not misunderstand God’s heart, and remember that He cares for us and wants the best for us.

—Raphael Zhang, Singapore

Questions for reflection

1. What specific sins might you be flirting with in your life?

2. How does understanding God’s heart for you make a difference in your relationship with Him?

3. How can you spot the seduction and deception of the sins in your life?
How can that help you identify their destructive effects?

Hand-lettering by Sonya Lao


Raphael enjoys reading and writing, and experiences them as means of connecting with the Word too beautiful for words. He believes there’s no such thing as having too many books. Having been led by Jehovah-Rapha to journey out of brokenness toward wholeness, he is passionate about bringing God’s healing to others, so that the brokenhearted can become wholehearted in loving God and people with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. He’s also crazy about cheeses, but his greatest love is still Jesus.

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ODB: Too Close

April 2, 2016 

READ: Proverbs 3:1-18 

In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

 

I grew up in Oklahoma where severe weather is common from early spring through the end of summer. I recall one evening when the sky boiled with dark clouds, the TV weather forecaster warned of an approaching tornado, and the electricity went out. Very quickly, my parents, my sister, and I climbed down the wooden ladder into the storm cellar behind our house where we stayed until the storm passed by.

Today “storm chasing” has become a hobby for many people and a profitable business for others. The goal is to get as close as possible to a tornado without being harmed. Many storm chasers are skilled forecasters with accurate information, but I won’t sign up for a tornado tour anytime soon.

In moral and spiritual areas of my life, however, I can foolishly pursue dangerous things God tells me to avoid because of His love for me, all the time believing I won’t be harmed. A wiser approach is to read the book of Proverbs, which contains many positive ways to elude these snares of life.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding,” Solomon wrote. “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5-6).

Our Lord is the master of the adventure of living, and following His wisdom leads us to fullness of life.

— David McCasland

Father, Your wisdom leads us along the path of life. Help us to follow Your guidance today.



How can you trust the Lord today?



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ODJ: fighting temptation

February 6, 2016 

READ: Matthew 6:9-13 

Don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one (v.13).

Mimi began working at a brothel in her early 20s. The big money began funding a lavish lifestyle, but working nights meant she lost touch with her friends. Soon things began spiraling out of control.

“I fell pregnant to a client,” Mimi told me. “I realized I couldn’t raise a child in that environment, so I left. I married the father, but he couldn’t forget my past so we broke up. I went from having lots of money each week to having little. All my social connections were gone and I felt isolated. That’s when I started contemplating suicide.”

Instead, Mimi cried out to Jesus. “That was only 6 weeks ago,” she said, “and ever since, the depression has gone.” But with money tight, Mimi was feeling tempted to return to her old life. “If the options are raising my child on instant noodles or getting good money where I was, maybe I’ll go back.”

Mimi’s experience reveals the strategy that the evil one, Satan, uses to trap us. First, he exploits our weakness with an enticing offer, then he isolates us from the people we need, and finally he enslaves us.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches us to pray, “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). It’s an important request. All of us are vulnerable to distorted desires (James 1:13-15), the destructive ways of the world (1 John 2:15-17), and the evil one who plots our downfall (1 Peter 5:8-9). But when we pray this prayer, we call our Father in heaven who is greater than those powers (Matthew 6:9). He alone can rescue us.

The Lord’s Prayer is to be prayed both for ourselves and for others. So consider praying this: Don’t let Mimi or me yield to temptation, Lord. Rescue us from the evil one!

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day-plan: Exodus 7:1-14

MORE
Read Matthew 26:41 and see why it’s so important to pray to God when we’re in special need of His power and strength. 
NEXT
When are you most vulnerable to temptation? How can God help you prepare for those moments? 

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ODB: The Big Stink

November 13, 2015 

READ: Genesis 3:6-13,22-24 

God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3:5

 

In August 2013, large crowds gathered at the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to witness the blooming of the tropical plant known as the corpse flower. Since the flower is native to Indonesia, and may flower only once every several years, its blooming is a spectacle. Once open, the huge spiky, beautiful, red bloom smells like rotten meat. Because of its putrid fragrance, the flower attracts flies and beetles that are looking for rotting meat. But there is no nectar.

Like the corpse flower, sin holds out promises but in the end offers no rewards. Adam and Eve found this out the hard way. Eden was beautiful until they ruined it by doing the one thing God urged them not to do. Tempted to doubt God’s goodness, they ignored their Creator’s loving warning and soon lost their innocence. The God-given beauty of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil became like a corpse flower to them. The reward for their disobedience was alienation, pain, emptiness, toil, and death.

Sin looks inviting and may feel good, but it doesn’t compare with the wonder, beauty, and fragrance of trusting and obeying God, who has made us to share His life and joy.

— Marvin Williams

What temptations are you facing today? Remember that God promises to help you fight against temptation. Ask Him to help you remember to rely on Him.


God’s commands can overpower Satan’s suggestions.