The devil made me do it

A group of us gals are spending our Wednesday evenings digging into the book of James.  I am notoriously slow about getting through verses - took us two weeks to get ourselves out of verse 1!  But the time has been sweet.  And rich.  I love these folks.  And we are loving the treasures we're uncovering in His Word.

Here's a couple of jewels from recent weeks....

James 1:13-16English Standard Version (ESV)
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being 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 fully grown brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers

In the midst of trials, there always comes a temptation.

Remember from a couple of weeks ago - we examined God's purpose in trials -- to proof our faith, to make it more precious and valuable.  Going through this process (if we cooperate with Him!) results in a life "perfect and complete, lacking in nothing".  (James 1:4)

And that is what we long for - to lack nothing, to be whole, complete.

However, the Enemy is opposed to God's purposes.  When he sees a trial coming our way, rest assured that he has a counterplan for us.

That's where the temptation comes from.

So when we're considering trials a reason to find joy, knowing that God is at work in our lives, producing a precious faith, completing us and supplying all we need so that we lack for nothing, well, it's at that point that the Enemy of our souls opens his arsenal of weapons.

He wants us to fail the test.  He doesn't want us whole and complete and drawing near to our Father.
So he tries to get us to fall.....

What does a fall look like?
Any number of things.
Depends on what appeals to the one in the trial.

Might be to get angry and declare "it's not fair".  If we don't process this appropriately, a full fledged pity party can ensue and bitterness is likely to set in.  Resentment towards those around us, including God.  "How could He do this to me?"  Questions like that.  Understandable...but not helpful.

Or the enticement to follow a path of destructive behavior might be his choice of armament against us.  Opportunities for wickedness and folly present themselves, usually disguised as much more benign than they really are.

Or the appeal might even be to abandon faith altogether.  After all, what's it gotten you so far, the Enemy whispers.

And if one takes the bait, if one fails and falls, then the normal tendency is to blame The One who is Sovereign over all.  Surely this failure is somehow His fault.

James stops us short in this line of thinking.  No, he says.  That is deceptive thinking.  Don't be deceived, he warns. 

Yes, the trial is from God.  But the temptation is not.  It's from our own inner desires.  Our "lusts" - the desire to please ourselves - is present within us.  And if we don't know/believe/act on the Truth, we will believe that something other God's plan will get us out of that trial, fill up the hole that's screaming to be filled up, or satisfy the longings of our soul.  It is oh so very easy to be deceived into thinking that something...or someone...will slake our thirst, appease our appetite, mollify our yearning....and we bite the lure the Enemy dangles in front of us.

We bite.  Sin.

But the decoy that entices us fails to deliver what seemed to be promised.

Instead, the process of death is set in motion.

Maybe not instantly.  But surely.  If we don't let go of the lure and run towards Truth, death is inevitable.  In the form of the end of a dream or a relationship or even a life.  Death of trust and faith and blessing. 

In a trial, God's purpose is to produce a faith more precious than gold.
The Enemy, however, is bent on destruction.  Yours.  And mine.

We don't have to fall, though.
Next time we'll look at how to beat him at his own game.