Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 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. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:13–15, ESV.
James makes a rather abrupt transition between verses 12 and 13. In verse 12, the one who is steadfast under trials, standing the test, is promised the crown of life. This is amazing to consider. Keeping the faith during trials gains us rewards. What grace upon grace!
Then, in verse 13, James jumps from trials and tests to temptations. However, it’s not really much of a jump. Doesn’t our experience testify to the fact that, when we go through hard times, we are often tempted to sin. We turn to selfishness (any toilet paper and hand sanitizer collectors out there?). We turn to self-pity (anyone feeling sorry for themselves as they go through a WORLDWIDE pandemic?). We place our faith in false gods (anyone placing more hope in government and science than in God?). Trails and temptations are often close kin.
When we are tempted to sin, it is important that we understand what is going on. It is not God tempting us. God does not buddy up with evil and surely does not provoke His children to do so. Temptations to sin come from a much more intimate source: our own hearts. We want more than what God has graciously given us. That want turns into a sense of merit as we tell ourselves we deserve more. At this point we are sin, believing that God has failed to give us a good we deserve (see Genesis 3). What a false friend sin is. We sin to get what we perceive will be better, but sin brings death instead.
We are living in strange days. For many, daily life has been utterly disrupted. For some, this isolation seems unbearable. For others, a real threat to life itself has entered the picture. We have a choice in times like these. We either turn to the good God who, in grace, sent His Son to rescue us from the consequences of our sin, or we give into temptation and court the very death of our souls.
I pray that today you will choose to trust in God. I also want to offer good news to those who have sinned. 1 John 1:9 remains true. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”