James 1:12–20 (NKJV)
In this passage of Scripture, James warns against temptation. He explains how temptation leads to sin, and the effects of that sin. He extols the greatness of God’s gifts to mankind, and instructs believers to be measured and patient in their responses to others.
12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord 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 by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.James 1:12-15
In this first section of the passage, James offers a beatitude, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation….” This pronouncement promises that the one who can withstand the temptations of life, once approved, will receive the righteous reward of his actions. The crown of life is promised by God to those who love Him, meaning those who obey His commands and demonstrate their love for Him by their right actions. James then moves into a defense of God, making certain that the reader knows that no temptation is from God. God does not tempt men, but the enemy, the devil, tempts. God cannot be tempted by evil, and neither does he tempt anyone. The next words describe the progression from temptation to sin. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” This is a clear explanation of the downward spiral into which temptation, desire, and sin lead to death. Entertaining temptation can arouse a desire for sin. When an individual is enticed by the temptation, and desire is conceived, sin is born. Sin, once fully developed, brings for death. This is spiritual death, but is connected to physical death, in that sin can also destroy the body as it destroys the soul. Don’t get fooled by temptation. Look for the hook!
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.James 1:16-18
In order to combat temptation that leads to sin and death, James reminds the reader that everything good and perfect is from above. The great, wonderful, good gifts are from the Father God. He does not waffle in His policies or practices. He does not turn some away and bless the rest. He rules justly and He, by His own will, brought forth the word of truth that we might believe and become firstfruits of all God’s creatures. He gives the greatest gift, forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ. All good things actually come from Him. Every good gift (provision, salvation, healing, deliverance, etc.) comes from the Father! He is the source and strength of all that is good.
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.James 1:19-20
The final instruction in this passage deals with one’s reaction to others. He says, simply, listen first, speak after hearing fully, and do not get angry easily. Wrath (overreaction) never helps any situation. In any heated exchange, the Christian should be calm and offer soft answers to those who may be upset. There is not a better response to a conflict than to listen and be measured in your response. That is the best, Christian response. Endure temptation and remain holy!
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