The Bible teaches us that Satan and his forces are always at work, attempting to lead people into sin and rebellion against God. This is especially made clear in James’ discussion about the cycle of sin. While many people might attempt to blame their evil desires on God, James shows us the danger of this thinking.
James 1:13-15-13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Sin is not the result of God putting evil desires into people. Indeed, God is not tempted with evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone! Instead, people are tempted when they are “drawn away” by their own desires. Of special interest is this phrase “drawn away.”
“The individual being tempted through the agency of his or her desire is lured forth, that is, drawn out and baited (δελεάζω, deleazō, lure, entice, is a verb derivative from δέλεαρ, delear, bait). These terms ordinarily are used to describe the process of catching fish or animals with nets or lines and bait.158 James does not speak directly of Satan doing the baiting, because his focus here is on the responsibility of the individual, though later (4:7; and probably 3:6) he does indicate satanic involvement in the provoking or evoking of evil behavior.” (Dan MMcCartney, James: Baker Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament, (2383-2389 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, Michigan; Baker Academic)
Notice several things with me.
First, temptation arises as a result of our own desires. These desires may be good desires that Satan and his forces try to pervert in order to lead us astray: they may be desires that are improper to begin with but which are not yet sinful in and of themselves (cf. Genesis 3:6). On the other hand, they may be desires which have been so encouraged and enflamed by us that they grow and become sinful (cf. Matthew 5:27-28).
Second, Satan knows the perfect way to try and “draw us away” from a right relationship with God. He will use the perfect “bait” to try and lead us from Him. As such, we should work to remove ourselves from situations where we could potentially be drawn away from God. This is what Jesus meant when He encouraged His followers to cut off limbs and pluck out eyes (Mark 9:43-49). Jesus was not endorsing self-mutilation; He was instead advising His people to remove every agency that could lead them into sin.
Consider some examples.
I have worked with many people who struggle with pornography addiction. What is one step that can help them in their recovery? Obviously, shutting down the means by which they have access to pornography (for many, it has meant getting rid of their Internet).
Again, I have worked with many who struggle with alcohol addiction. What is one thing they can do? They can avoid restaurants that serve alcohol. These things are done in order to minimize their exposure to temptation, to try and avoid situations where they may be “drawn away.”
Third, the text is absolutely clear that no one has the right to blame their temptation and sin on others. I am responsible for my sins. Adam tried to blame his sin on his wife Eve (and indirectly on God), and she tried to blame her sin on Satan himself (Genesis 3:1-17). When we avoid our responsibility in sin, then we are unable to find forgiveness and healing. The inspired writer of Proverbs said it so powerfully:
Proverbs 28:13-He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
We do not have to proclaim our sins on the rooftops: but we do need to seek forgiveness from The Lord (Psalm 51:1-6) and against those whom we have wronged (Luke 19:1-10; Acts 19:18).
Let us beware of the “bait of Satan” that he will use to try and draw us away from The Lord! All sinners may be saved by the incredible and unfathomable grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). He loved you so very much that He sent His Son to die for you on Calvary, was buried, and rose on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Why not today as a believer, repent of your sins and be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:37-38)? Why not today, if you are a child of God who has departed from The Lord in sin (1 Corinthians 10:12), repent and pray today and be forgiven (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.