Let no man say - Lest the former sentiment should be misapplied, as the word temptation has two grand meanings, solicitation to sin, and trial from providential situation or circumstances, James, taking up the word in the former sense, after having used it in the latter, says: Let no man say, when he is tempted, (solicited to sin), I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he (thus) any man. Thus the author has explained and guarded his meaning.
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God - See the remarks on the previous verse. The apostle here seems to have had his eye on whatever there was in trial of any kind to induce us to commit sin - whether by complaining, by murmuring, by apostacy, or by yielding to sin. So far as that was concerned, he said that no one should charge it on God. He did nothing in any way with a view to induce men to do evil. That was only an incidental thing in the trial, and was no part of the divine purpose or design. The apostle felt evidently that there was great danger, from the general manner in which the word “temptation” was used, and from the perverse tendency of the heart, that it would be charged on God that he so arranged these trials, and so influenced the mind, as to present inducements to sin. Against this, it was proper that an inspired apostle should bear his solemn testimony; so to guard the whole subject as to show that whatever there was in any form of trial that could be regarded as an inducement or allurement to sin, is not the thing which he contemplated in the arrangement, and does not proceed from him. It has its origin in other causes; and if there was nothing in the corrupt human mind itself leading to sin, there would be nothing in the divine arrangement that would produce it.
For God cannot be tempted with evil - Margin, “evils.” The sense is the same. The object seems to be to show that, in regard to the whole matter of temptation, it does not pertain to God. Nothing can be presented to his mind as an inducement to do wrong, and as little can he present anything to the mind of man to induce him to sin. Temptation is a subject which does not pertain to him. He stands aloof from it altogether. In regard to the particular statement here, that “God cannot be tempted with evil,” or to do evil, there can be no doubt of its truth, and it furnishes the highest security for the welfare of the universe. There is nothing in him that has a tendency to wrong; there can be nothing presented from without to induce him to do wrong:
(1)There is no evil passion to be gratified, as there is in men;
(2)There is no want of power, so that an allurement could be presented to seek what he has not;
(3)There is no want of wealth, for he has infinite resources, and all that there is or can be is his Psalm 50:10-11;
(4)There is no want of happiness, that he should seek happiness in sources which are not now in his possession. Nothing, therefore, could be presented to the divine mind as an inducement to do evil.
Neither tempteth he any man - That is, he places nothing before any human being with a view to induce him to do wrong. This is one of the most positive and unambiguous of all the declarations in the Bible, and one of the most important. It may be added, that it is one which stands in opposition to as many feelings of the human heart as perhaps any other one. We are perpetually thinking - the heart suggests it constantly - that God does place before us inducements to evil, with a view to lead us to sin. This is done in many ways:
(a)People take such views of his decrees as if the doctrine implied that he meant that we should sin, and that it could not be otherwise than that we should sin.
(b)It is felt that all things are under his control, and that he has made his arrangements with a design that men should do as they actually do.
(c)It is said that he has created us with just such dispositions as we actually have, and knowing that we would sin.
(d)It is said that, by the arrangements of his Providence, he actually places inducements before us to sin, knowing that the effect will be that we will fall into sin, when we might easily have prevented it.
(e)It is said that he suffers some to tempt others, when he might easily prevent it if he chose, and that this is the same as tempting them himself.
Now, in regard to these things, there may be much which we cannot explain, and much which often troubles the heart even of the good; yet the passage before us is explicit on one point, and all these things must be held in consistency with that - that God does not place inducements before us with a view that we should sin, or in order to lead us into sin. None of his decrees, or his arrangements, or his desires, are based on that, but all have some other purpose and end. The real force of temptation is to be traced to some other source - to ourselves, and not to God. See the next verse.
I will try to answer this important question: As God He could not be tempted: but as a man He could be tempted, and that strongly, and could yield to the temptations. His human nature must pass through the same test and trial Adam and Eve passed through. His human nature was created; it did not even possess the angelic powers. It was human, identical with our own. He was passing over the ground where Adam fell. He was now where, if He endured the test and trial in behalf of the fallen race, He would redeem Adam's disgraceful failure and fall, in our own humanity. 3SM 129.3Read in context »
We should not try to lessen our guilt by excusing sin. We must accept God's estimate of sin, and that is heavy indeed. Calvary alone can reveal the terrible enormity of sin. If we had to bear our own guilt, it would crush us. But the sinless One has taken our place; though undeserving, He has borne our iniquity. “If we confess our sins,” God “is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9. Glorious truth!—just to His own law, and yet the Justifier of all that believe in Jesus. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy.” Micah 7:18. MB 116.1
Temptation is enticement to sin, and this does not proceed from God, but from Satan and from the evil of our own hearts. “God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempteth no man.” James 1:13 , R.V. MB 116.2Read in context »
There is no safety for any man, young or old, unless he feels the necessity of seeking God for counsel at every step. Those only who maintain close communion with God will learn to place His estimate upon men, to reverence the pure, the good, the humble, and the meek. The heart must be garrisoned as was that of Joseph. Then temptations to depart from integrity will be met with decision: “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” The strongest temptation is no excuse for sin. No matter how severe the pressure brought to bear upon you, sin is your own act. The seat of the difficulty is the unrenewed heart.13 AH 331.1
In view of the dangers of this time, shall not we, as God's commandment-keeping people, put away from among us all sin, all iniquity, all perverseness? Shall not the women professing the truth keep strict guard over themselves, lest the least encouragement be given to unwarrantable familiarity? They may close many a door of temptation if they will observe at all times strict reserve and propriety of deportment.14 AH 331.2
Women Must Uphold High Standard of Conduct—I write with a distressed heart that the women in this age, both married and unmarried, too frequently do not maintain the reserve that is necessary. They act like coquettes. They encourage the attentions of single and married men, and those who are weak in moral power will be ensnared. These things, if allowed, deaden the moral senses and blind the mind so that crime does not appear sinful. Thoughts are awakened that would not have been if woman had kept her place in all modesty and sobriety. She may have had no unlawful purpose or motive herself, but she has given encouragement to men who are tempted, and who need all the help they can get from those associated with them. By being circumspect, reserved, taking no liberties, receiving no unwarrantable attentions, but preserving a high moral tone and becoming dignity, much evil might be avoided.15 AH 331.3Read in context »