In Discipleship Journal, Don McCullough tells a story from John Killinger about the manager of a minor league baseball team who was so disgusted with his center fielder’s performance that he ordered him to the dugout and assumed the position himself.
The first ball that came into center field took a bad hop and hit the manager in the mouth. The next one was a high fly ball, which he lost in the glare of the sun–until it bounced off his forehead. The third was a hard line drive that he charged with outstretched arms; unfortunately, it flew between his hands and smacked his eye.
Furious, the manager ran back to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the uniform, and shouted, “You idiot! You’ve got center field so messed up that even I can’t do a thing with it!’
While this story may be apocryphal, it illustrates several relevant aspects of human nature. One of which, is the tendency to blame others for our own mistakes, failures and errors.
In our text, James warns that when we’re tempted to sin, don’t say, “I’m being tempted by God.”
From the occasion of the first sin in the Garden of Eden until this very day, there is a human tendency to blame others, even God, for our transgressions. When God confronted Adam for eating the forbidden fruit, he said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12).￼
Adam excused his failure by blaming Eve, but indirectly and not so subtly he was blaming God for giving him Eve. So, Adam is inferring that if God hadn’t given him Eve, he wouldn’t have sinned. While that sounds absurd on the surface, we may be guilty of engaging in similar behavior. How often do we hear deviate conduct excused by someone saying, “That’s just the way God made me. I can’t help it.”
The first thing to learn from this text is don’t blame God for either your temptations or your sins.
Secondly, understand the source and the destructive progression of temptation.
♦Temptation is fueled by desire. Evil desire. It may be an evil desire to commit an immoral act, to exact revenge on another person, or engage in a dishonest business transaction. Or it may be a healthy desire that Satan isolates and distorts to become something that it’s not supposed to be.
♦Temptation is fomented by Doubt. Satan tries to get you to doubt what God has said. Is it really wrong? Is that really what it means? Does it apply today? Doesn’t God want me to be happy? Isn’t love the most important thing? Watch out for doubt. Don’t doubt God. Or doubt His Word. Instead doubt your doubts.
♦Temptation is Facilitated by Deception. Satan is called “the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44). Satan says “ you will not die.” You will be wiser than God. Go ahead and eat (2 Cor. 11:3). Satan says, you can get away with it. No one will ever know. It will solve your problem. Besides, everyone else is doing it. It’s only a little thing. It’s no big deal. The warning is simple, “Let no one deceive you with empty words (Eph. 5:6).
♦Temptation is Finalized in Disobedience. You finally act on the thought you’ve been toying with. The temptation flirtation ends in sinful disobedience. What starts as a fleeting thought, then an intoxicating emotion, becomes birthed into behavior.
Thirdly, be advised that when we’re deceived by temptation and succumb to its desire, the result is deadly. It can only end in spiritual death. Separation from God. Now. And if not repented of, for all eternity.
The exhortation and admonition of the inspired writer is simple and succinct. “Do not be deceived my beloved brethren.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman