As I promised in our last tidbit let’s explore some ideas from James 1:13-15. I am not saying that James implies these ideas nor that I am strictly interpreting the text of James so let’s just say these are ideas I am inferring from the text for our edification.
The text (RSV): “Blessed is the man who endures trial for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one; 14 but each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”
In a tidbit for those of you who are planning on taking my Greek course I made the point that the root word for testing/temptation from the devil (peiras) is different from the root word for testing from God (dokim). Reputable scholars such as Spiros Zodhiates and those behind the NIV translation see the meaning of the peioras root as dependent on who is doing the testing/tempting. With profound respect to these scholars I strongly disagree and I am pulling James on my side (smile).
Note that James says ‘God cannot be tempted [Greek root apeiras with the negating alpha(a) in front [as in atheist or agnostic] with evil and God tempts [Greek root peiras] no one!’ (v. 13) For James at least, the peiras root is linked to the devil alone and not linked to God at all.
Troubling implications from v. 14 for me are:
- We are both driven by our internal ‘state of being’ toward sin and pulled by the devil’s tactical exploitation of our inner weaknesses
- We need not so much to ‘plead the blood of Jesus’ against the devil (a too popular but empty cliché) but ‘walk daily in the Spirit’ to diminish our impure/ungodly desires and
- Deepen our confessional prayer time by 1) acknowledging actual/specific sin as S-I-N, 2) acknowledging a personal leaning to certain darling/besetting sins, joined to 3) a strong determination to repent of sin (see Prov. 28:13)
Victory may not be immediate but still inevitable if we take this approach to temptation.
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