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Whose Fault Is Our Temptation?

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 25, 2023 3:00 am

Whose Fault Is Our Temptation?

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 25, 2023 3:00 am

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We all face the battle of temptation and how we deal with it is a mark of the genuineness of our faith or the lack of true saving faith. Just as how we face trials and respond to them was seen as a test of genuine faith, so how we deal with temptation is also a test of genuine faith. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Well, you might not think of yourself as much of a fighter, or maybe you're not a fighter at all of any kind, but man or woman, young or old, if you are a Christian, you are in a continuous battle with an unseen foe. That foe, your enemy, is temptation. The question is, whose fault is temptation?

How do you defend against it? And what's the connection between handling temptation and benefiting from life's trials? John MacArthur looks at all those questions as he continues the study he calls, Benefiting from Life's Trials, based on James chapter one. So if you have your Bible, turn there now.

And here's John MacArthur. Open your Bible to James chapter one. We're going to be looking at verses 13 through 18. James 1, 13 through 18.

Look at your Bible as I read to you verses 13 through 18. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted by God. For God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any one. But everyone is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then, when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin. And sin, when it is complete, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren, or do not be deceived.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and is coming down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variation, neither shifting shadow. Of his own will begot he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. As we approach this text, let me have you look at verse 14. It begins with these words, but every man is tempted.

All of us can give testimony to the truthfulness of that statement. Everyone is tempted. Temptation is the common experience of every human being, non-Christian or Christian. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10 that temptations are common to man. One ancient writer said that even when we are saved, we must remember that our baptism did not drown our flesh. Temptation is common to every man.

Every man is tempted. We all then face the battle of temptation, and how we deal with it is a mark of the genuineness of our faith or the lack of true saving faith. Just as how we face trials and respond to them in verses 2 through 12 was seen as a test of genuine faith, so how we deal with temptation is also a test of genuine faith.

Now in a sense, the change from verses 12 to 13 is a quick change for James. He had been talking about trials. He had been using the same verb, pyrazzo, the same noun, pyrasmos, meaning trials or tribulations. He had been using that very word to talk about trials that the Lord allows to come into our life to make us strong. And he has just said that the person who endures those trials is blessed. Those trials, we learned, are outward circumstances which test our faith and produce spiritual growth. But those trials can also become temptations.

And rather than being a means to spiritual growth can become a source of solicitation to evil. Every difficult thing that comes into my life either strengthens me because I obey God and stay confident in His care and trusting His power, and so I grow, or I am tempted to doubt God, deny His word, disobey, do what is expedient, and thus I have fallen to the solicitation to do evil. The same word that means an enticement to evil is also used to speak of a trial.

The difference is how you respond to it. If you respond to a trial with obedience, then you find it a means of spiritual growth. If you respond to a trial with disobedience, it has turned into a temptation and you have fallen prey to it. Every trial has the potential to become a temptation depending on our response. So James makes this shift from trials which lead to growth and blessing to temptations which lead to sin and death. Every circumstance of life that we face then provides us with a decision.

In fact, it requires a decision. Will I persevere? Will I move ahead in faith in God by obedience to His word, or will I listen to the voice that suggests the easy way out is disobedience and fall into sin? Now if I fall into sin, whose fault is it? Is it God's fault who brings the trials or allows them? Is it the fault of my circumstances? Is it the fault of my being created by God the way I am and I can't help it?

Whose fault is it? If God brings the trials, then is He responsible when they become temptations? This issue of who is to blame in temptation for sin is the heart of this passage. And it is an essential thing because it really is something as old as sin. It is a strange, but it is an ancient belief that God is responsible for our temptation and our sin.

James absolutely forbids such a thought. In fact, he implies that someone who really knows God has a meekness and a brokenness about his own culpability for sin and wouldn't think of blaming God as a continual act, although occasionally we may make such illusions. Now notice again in verse 13 that you have a present passive participle. Let no man say when he is being tempted. While in the process of fighting the battle, while in the process of being tempted, let no one excuse himself, take himself off the hook by saying God is doing this. When you are in the path of continued temptation and you're nearing the brink of yielding, don't you make the excuse that I am tempted of God.

Let no man say that. You could almost put quotes around the phrase I am tempted of God as he is using it as if it were a quote from a person in that very situation. Now I want to show you something very interesting in the choice of prepositions in this verse. The little word of in English has only one spelling and one meaning of, but in Greek there are two words that can be translated of. One is apa and the other is hupa. They are very important words, apo and upo. Apo means remote, remoteness, distance, an indirect relationship. Hupa means direct agency, the one who actually is doing it.

Here the choice is apo, remote. And what he is saying is let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. Not that God is there directly tempting me, but that remotely he is the real cause of this problem.

That at a distance God is the one who created me this way, who created my circumstance, put me in this environment, caused all these things to happen. He is really responsible. It is not usual for someone to say God is actually soliciting me to do evil, but it is common for people to say it is God who created me in the situation and therefore he is ultimately responsible for what I do. Most men don't go as far as to see God as the direct tempter, but they do feel God is indirectly to blame apo by permitting the situation and the possibility of failure. So this would say, don't you ever say that God is not only not the near agency of temptation, but he's not even the remote agency of temptation.

Don't ever say that. Don't ever look at yourself as a poor victim of God's providence or God's creation or God's allowance of something to take place. Now to support that exhortation, in verse 13, James gives us five proofs, five proofs. This is just so rich.

I want you to grab this because this is very, very practical. There are five proofs that God is not responsible for temptation and therefore sin. Number one, the nature of evil, the nature of evil. Verse 13 says, Let no one say when he is being tempted, I am tempted by God who is the indirect cause.

Here's why. For God, for God, literally in the Greek text it says, is inexperienced with evil. Neither tempts he any man. God, it says, cannot be tempted with evil.

The word is used only here in the New Testament, operastas. It means he is not experienced in evil. He has no experience of evil. He has no capacity for evil. He has no vulnerability to evil. And by the way, the word evil is neuter, plural, without an article.

It's just general evil of any kind. The whole realm of evil with all its base on holy immoral nature has absolutely no way that it can penetrate the nature of God. All evil repulses God. It can find no place in his holy character.

So the nature of evil is infinitely apart from the holiness of God. In Leviticus 19, 2, it says the Lord is holy. In Leviticus 20, 26, the Lord is holy. In Isaiah 6, holy, holy, holy.

1 Peter 1 16, the Lord is holy. Holiness cannot be penetrated by sin. In fact, in Habakkuk, you remember what it says in verse 13 of chapter 1, Thou art of purer eyes than to even behold evil and cannot look on iniquity. Too pure to behold evil. Too pure to look on iniquity.

God is a holy God. The nature of evil then makes it impossible for God to ever be tempted successfully or to ever tempt someone else. For to tempt someone else would indicate that he had a delight in seeing someone else do evil, but he who knows no evil cannot delight in evil. 2 Samuel 24 brings an interesting point.

I probably need to allude to it. It says this, just so you don't find it and get curious. The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel and he incited David against them to say, go number Israel and Judah. Now David committed a sin, the sin of numbering the people.

Instead of trusting God, he was going to trust in the might of his people. And it says the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel and he incited David. And that seems to say that he himself tempted David to that sin. This is the only place in the Bible where any such thought is introduced.

But by God's Holy Spirit, we have a comparative passage in 1 Chronicles 21. This parallels that passage and what it says is this, and Satan stood up against Israel and enticed David to number Israel. The accurate aspect of that temptation as to who the tempter was is in 1 Chronicles 21 one and it says Satan did it. The broader picture that Samuel points out is that God allowed it to happen because David had the choice to respond or not respond to the enticement of Satan. God does not tempt to evil.

That is explicitly said here. And when you go to 2 Samuel 24 and it appears that he did, you merely go to 1 Chronicles 21. It says Satan did it. What the writer of Samuel is saying is that it was within the allowance of God for the fulfilling of God's judgment if David in fact chose to do evil. Matthew 4 says the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. Again, somebody says, well didn't God by the Spirit lead him out to temptation? No, he led him out to be tested and since he passed all the tests, none of them were really temptations because they never led to what? To sin.

And through those tests he was proven to be the Son of God. The angels came and ministered to him. You say, well what about Matthew 6 13, lead us not into temptation? That again has to do with trials and that is the cry of the heart of a saint who is saying, Oh God, as I pray, do not lead me into any trial that is more than I can bear. Lord, lead us not into the kind of trials that would cause us to be tempted because they are more than we can handle. And the Lord will answer that prayer because 1 Corinthians 10 13 says, there shall no trial or temptation overtake you but such is as common to man and God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted.

What? Above what you're able but will with the temptation make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it. Lead us not into the power of some trial that is beyond us. That is the prayer of Matthew 6.

So the truth of James stands. God tempts no one. He allows temptation to go on and men like David can make a choice but God does not tempt. He allows us to be tested even as he allowed Christ to be tested but never more than we are able to bear and always giving the resource for victory if we choose that resource.

And when we cry, lead us not into trial or temptation, we are simply saying, God, we ask you to do what you've promised to do and never give us more than we can bear. So the nature of evil says that God cannot be tempted. He can't even experience evil, therefore He can't tempt anybody else. As I said, in order to tempt someone else, He would have to delight Himself in temptation and sin which He is incapable of.

His delight is only in that which is pure and holy. So the nature of God, James says, tells us, or the nature of evil rather, tells us that God cannot be the source of temptation and sin for evil is contradictory to His nature. Secondly, the nature of man. The nature of man. Not only what evil is but what man is. Look at verse 14.

This is so interesting. But every man is tempted, or literally ekastas, every one or each one, but each one, each individual is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. But, is the first word.

Here is the fact that is essential. Temptation doesn't come from God but every man, each one of us, no exceptions, all individuals, there's no one outside of this purview, everybody, is tempted, that's a present tense, going through the repeated experience of temptation, when he is dragged away and enticed, mark this, underline it, by his own what? Lust. Dragged away and enticed are two interesting words.

Both of them are participles. The first one comes from hunting and it is used of luring an animal into a trap. A trap is baited and the animal is lured into the trap. The verb itself, elkamai, means to be drawn by an inward power, an inward power. It means to be led, to be compelled, to be impelled, to be lured into a trap, to be baited and caught. It's a hunting term. The second term, enticed, is a fishing term. That word means literally to capture or catch and its literal use was to catch a fish with bait, to bait a hook and catch. In 2 Peter 2, 14 and 18, it is translated to allure or to beguile. Dili oxaminas. It means to entice, to catch a fish with bait.

The problem is this. Every person is tempted when the hook is baited or the trap is baited and we are lured away, compelled away, dragged away, beguiled away by our own what? Lust. These terms see the one being tempted as being lured deceptively and then hooked and trapped in sin.

Just think about that imagery. The reason animals are baited and trapped and fish are baited and trapped is because the bait looks good. It looks attractive. It looks inviting and all they see is the bait. And instead of the anticipated pleasure, when they grab the bait comes the pain of capture and death. So it is with temptation. It dangles out there and it promises a tasty indulgence. It promises a satisfying morsel. It promises greater pleasure, fun, reward and it lures the suckered victim into its trap and hook in a deadly way. Now what does that?

What does that? Whose fault is that? What pulls us so strongly to the bait? Is it God? No. Is it Satan?

No. Satan baits the hook and the world baits the hook and demons bait the hook and men bait the hook and a lot of folks bait the hook. But what pulls us to the hook? What pulls us to the trap?

What is it? Lust. And that's the nature of man. Our fallenness has as a part of its entity desire for evil. Would you notice that it doesn't say he is drawn away by lust but of his own lust?

Very emphatic. His own emphasizes that we're not talking about some generic term only that everyone possesses commonly with everyone else in just the same way. But each individual, ekestas, each individual has his own particular bent of lust, which is really the thing that lures him to the bait. And is it not true that one person's passion is another person's repulsion?

Sure it is. We all have a certain, I wouldn't want to use the word character, but we all have certain characteristics of our lust which makes some baited traps and baited hooks more alluring to us than others. And that's why he is individualizing this by saying his own lust. Now this refers to the inclination of the soul to enjoy or acquire something. The word lust is epithumia. The core word is thumas.

Preposition is added to it. It means the desire of the soul. It's the strong passion of the soul. And the problem in our sinning is not God. The problem is not even the devil. The problem is not even demons. The problem is not even the world or wicked men.

Listen, the world, wicked men, demons and the devil all surrounded Jesus Christ throughout his entire life and yet he never sinned because there was never in him any epithumia. There was no lust. There was no pull.

Nothing put on the hook attracted him in any way. You see, the problem is not the tempter without. Flip Wilson notwithstanding, the devil doesn't make you do it. The problem is not the tempter without. The problem is the traitor within. That's the problem. Our temptability is because of the nature of man and his own peculiar desires and each person's soul has its own patterns of fleshly desire as a result of his environment and his upbringing and his personal choices.

So what makes it so stupid? When people cut off parts of the body, the issue is that in the nature of man there is a propensity to desire things that satisfy and if lured to those things outside the will of God there is the capacity to bite the hook. By the way, you will notice that it says when he is drawn away of his own lust, here hupa is used. The real enticement is lust.

The near and direct agent and responsible cause for sin is lust. Pogo said we have met the enemy and the enemy is us. That's right. That's profound.

The enemy is us. You're listening to Grace to You, featuring John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His study today is Benefiting from Life's Trials.

Now friend, it may be that you're going through a difficult trial right now and listening to this series is perfectly timed for you. And of course, James chapter 1 is one of those passages that Christians turn to again and again for a fresh understanding during trials and rightly so. John, this passage is kind of a precision toolkit for dealing with the hard times and growing spiritually as a result of them. Yeah, absolutely.

And it's not complicated. It's just this definitive promise that you can count it all joy when you go through trials because God is using those trials to perfect you, to mature you, to grow you spiritually. And if you're a believer, look, that's the thing you would desire the most. We want to help you with this, not only by the series we're doing currently on the radio, but we want to let you know that the study guide, the newest study guide, Benefiting from Life's Trials is now available. You know, Job said it correctly when he said, man is born for trouble.

We all get that. Thankfully, however, the Lord has given you what you need to face those trials and to grow stronger, to actually benefit from the circumstance that tests you spiritually. James 1 is a treasury of truth for dealing with trouble and even with tragedy.

So the new study guide will help you own those realities. It gives you the outline for every message in our current series and the content of every message as well. Essentially, it's six sermons in book form. The Benefiting from Life's Trials audio series has had a tremendous ministry to the Grace to You family over many, many decades.

It is designed to help you look suffering right in the face and see the purpose of God at work. So you're going to want a copy not only of the audio, which you can get by downloading it from the website, but you do want to get a companion study guide, which is available for you from Grace to You. Again, the title Benefiting from Life's Trials, 120 pages, always affordable. You can order it today.

Yes, you can. And friend, this study guide looks at practical and timeless truths that you can cling to whenever trials come, truths that will help you know genuine peace and grow in trust of our living Savior. To order the Benefiting from Life's Trials study guide, get in touch with us today.

Our number here, 855grace, and our website, Both new and veteran saints will find this study guide, Benefiting from Life's Trials, very helpful. It answers questions like, how can I prepare for suffering? How can I glorify God in the midst of trials?

And what can I learn from suffering after it has passed? To place your order, call 855grace or go to And also, while you're online, remember you can download any of John's 3500 sermons, including the one you heard today, free in MP3 or transcript format. You can also download the Grace to You app. It gives you access to any of John's sermons wherever you take your smartphone. And also, you'll want to read the Grace to You blog. Week after week, you will find articles by John and our staff on some of the most talked about issues in the church today. All of that and more is free at Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace to You television this Sunday and be here tomorrow when John shows you what to do when you're tempted to doubt God's goodness. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-25 05:58:45 / 2023-01-25 06:08:35 / 10

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