How Temptation Works

William C. Brownson

READ : James 1:13-15

No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God” . . . one is tempted by one’s own desire. (vv. 13-14)

You know what temptation is. It’s a kind of invitation to do evil, to make a wrong choice, to disobey God. James wants us to understand what is really going on when we are tempted.

First, it’s not God’s doing. “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” God surely tests us, but it’s always with a loving motive. He wants us to pass! The devil is the tempter (Matthew 4:3). As long ago in the Garden, and with Jesus in the wilderness, Satan seeks to ruin us. He aims to lead us away from God.

But when we fall for his lies we can’t say, as comedian Flip Wilson often did, “The devil made me do it!” Succumbing to temptation is always an “inside job.” The attack succeeds because there are traitors within the walls. The “traitors” are our own runaway desires.

The way back is not the way of excuse, but of confession. “If we confess our sins,” God is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us” (1 John 1:9). And the same Lord who died to save us teaches us how to be prepared next time: “watch and pray.”


Thank you, Lord, for the gospel of forgiveness and new beginnings in Christ!