“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:12-14).
There is a widespread misconception that a person blessed by the Lord with happiness and peace shall not have any temptation or trial. Many modern-day false teachers claim that genuine faith would guarantee a life free from sickness, financial trouble, and all other kinds of distress. However, the Word of God here teaches us that the blessedness of a man of faith is not in the absence of temptation and trial in his life, but in his endurance in the midst of them.
A believer should not frown on the divine providence that permits trying circumstances. Instead, he must persevere happily even when his faith and commitment to God are tested, knowing that God’s providence is giving him an opportunity to prove the genuineness of his faith. This is why James urged believers in an earlier verse, saying, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (James 1:2).
A person undergoing trials may not feel “blessed” or happy. The difficulties would affect him emotionally, causing him to feel frustrated, fearful, or forlorn. Nonetheless, if he steadfastly believes in the promises and presence of God while remaining committed to doing His will, he will experience the great spiritual joy of an overcomer.
Every Christian needs to know that all sorts of circumstances will test his faith and devotion to Christ. So, he is required to be ready to endure the temptation that will inevitably come his way. In order to endure testing, one must cultivate a spirit of total dependence on and total obedience to God. Temptations and trials can conspire to make one falter in faithfulness to Christ. One can prevail over temptations and trials only with a spirit of unflinching devoutness and undaunted fortitude.
Let us note that the blessed man does not just suffer but endures his suffering and testing. He “shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12b). The word “crown” conveys the idea of reward, and the word “life” indicates that the reward is life evermore. Jesus also said to the suffering Christians, “… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). The sacred promises of such “crowns” reserved for the children of God are also mentioned in 2 Tim. 4:8; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev 3:11; 4:4.
Amidst the trials, the Lord will manifest His pleasure in those who endure and prove their love for Him. He will assure and cheer them on with His promise of eternal rewards. His promise will strengthen their hearts and assure them that the trials are not a sign of His displeasure. His promise of reward will show that His love and commitment to them will never wither. They who love and honour the Lord in their trials have the assurance that the Lord will honour them through thick and thin.
We must note James’ caution: “Let no man say … I am tempted of God”. Some believers tend to misinterpret God-sent trials as God tempting them with opportunities to sin. Such a notion is far from the truth. So, James sternly warns those who may try to pin the blame on God and hold God responsible for their temptation to sin. James is very concerned about such an idea of God and desires that his readers will reject the suggestion that God has a hand in inducing people to sin.
One’s thoughts about God affect one’s decisions and responses to life’s experiences. If one presumes that the temptations of sin that he experiences are from God, he will then have an ill-conceived excuse for the sins he would commit. As James noted, he would then say impious and despicable things, such as “God tempted me with sins.”
To say that “I am tempted of God” is, first of all, to make a false claim about God. It is a heresy to say that God tempts us with sin. Any thought or statement that depicts God as the author of sin is contrary to the unmistakable teaching of the Holy Scriptures that all of God’s works are holy. In Deuteronomy 32:4, Moses avows that God “is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Psalm 145:17 declares that “The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” Likewise, Psalm 92:15 affirms that “the LORD is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (cf. 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalms 111:3; 119:137; Zephaniah 3:5; Revelation 4:8).
Secondly, such a statement deceives the heart to consider sin as an unavoidable matter that God has laid on him. Such a belief stands contrary to all the counsels and admonitions of God in His Word. God commands us to depart and be separate from everything unholy. For instance, 2 Corinthians 6:17 admonishes us, “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The LORD God would have nothing to do with those who follow the way of sin. He calls all His people to “come out” away from all sorts of unclean and false people and their ways.
How scandalous and diabolical it is then to say, “I am tempted of God”!