Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. James 1:13.
The Word of God comes to us with a note of warning. When the hosts of darkness are set in battle array against us and temptations beset us from every side, when Satan lays his snares for us, threatening us with suffering, scorns and sneers, or luring us with the attractions of sin, when our faith falters and the battle seems hopeless, let us not say that we are tempted of God.
But is it not true, we ask, that no temptation can ever befall us apart from God?
When Job deprived of all his possessions and visited with a dreadful plague, even to the astonishment of his three friends, it was God who called Satan’s attention to His servant Job and gave him consent and power to afflict him with bitter grief.
When David committed the sin of counting the people, it was God, in His anger against Israel, who moved David through the instrument of the devil to commit this folly. II Sam. 24:1. I Chron. 21:1.
And in this awefullest of nights when Jesus surrendered Himself into the hands of His enemies to be slain, and Satan was out to sift Peter as the wheat, it was God who directed Peter’s way to the palace of the high-priest. When Peter, stunned to confusion, staggered before the sneer of a mere damsel and a few sporting soldiers, it was God who created the circumstances in which Peter found himself. And it was God who delayed the crowing of the cock until Peter was well on his way toward denying his Lord three times.
And why should we add more? We know that nothing befalls us, not even to losing one hair of our heads, without the will of our heavenly Father. Also the devil and
all the powers of wickedness are employed in His providence to serve His eternal purpose.
Are we, then, tempted of God?
Never say that.
Let not one of us ever lay the charge of our sins to God.
It would only mean that we are not even fully conscious of our own corruption and guilt. Nor are we ready to confess our sin in true sorrow of heart and repentance before Him. But we are rather seeking to excuse ourselves and our sinfulness to continue in the way of the transgressor. We are already caught in the snares of temptation.
Besides that, it is impossible that we should be tempted of Cod. God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man. God is the light, in Whom is no darkness whatsoever; He is righteousness, and hates all unrighteousness; holiness, and holds Himself aloof from evil. Evil cannot arise in the heart of God nor penetrate into His thoughts, for evil is strange to Him. He cannot lure anyone into ways of wickedness with the intent of seeking his downfall. The holy God never tempts any man with evil.
Let the thought not enter our minds, nor the word pass our lips.
Let us not blame the circumstances we are in for the temptations that beset us and the sins we commit.
How easy it often seems to excuse ourselves and to lay the blame somewhere else.
We cannot help it that we are thrown into the company of sinful men every day. They will laugh at us if we profess our faith among them, sneer at us if we refuse to make light of holy things in their presence. They may take our jobs from us if we do not organize or in some other way compromise with them. It happens to be the kind of a world we are living in, and there is little we can do about it.
Or, again, we simply have a sinful nature that is attracted to the things of this world. The pleasures and treasures of the world appeal to us. We know that this is not as it should be, but it happens to be the case. Not that we live extremely godless and sinful lives, far be it from us that we should allow ourselves to sink so low, but when
a person is young he must have some good times.
And the young man in service, far from home and friends and Church, finds himself in the midst of the world at its worst. If he does not go along with the others he is an outcast, the laughing stock of the group. Besides, he is lonely and sick at heart. Fears and dread of what lie before him crowd upon all his thoughts. What is the use of always being on his guard against temptations? Who would ever he the wiser, if he did drown his grief by an occasional departure from the way? How can he help it if he finds himself in such a position that he cannot resist the wrong? He does not actually seek the evil, but circumstances have brought it upon him.
And all the time we are saying: I am tempted of God.
Never say that.
Rather say: The fault lies with me. The reason that I am tempted to sin is because of my own sinfulness. I am evil, born in sin. My sins rise up against me, prevailing day by day. If it were not for the lusts of my flesh sin would have no appeal, the attractions of the world would not draw me, the sneers of the foolish, sinful men would not disturb me, and Satan could never lure me into his snares.
If I yield to temptation I am following the lusts of my heart. I am giving place to the devil and inviting him to do his evil work in my heart. I am walking the way of sin, even while I know that the way of the transgressor shall perish.
Because we are aware of the sinfulness that dwells in us we must jealously guard our souls, fighting the battle of faith against sin which so easily besets us.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
*Taken from the March,1943 issue.