Summary: Earlier in the first chapter of James much has been said about testing and trials but now James turns his attention to temptation. How are they alike and how are they different, especially since the Greek word is the same for both? Let's take a look!
“James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
“But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
“That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
“Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation - since they will pass away like a wild flower.
“For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
Up to this point James has been discussing the trials and testing of Christian brothers and sisters. Now he turns to temptation.
We often hear that God does not tempt us but He does test us and put us through trials.
So, what is the difference between testing and temptation?
If we overcome a trial by the power of God it strengthens our relationship with Him.
If we overcome a temptation by dependence on the Lord it also strengthens our relationship with God.
If we fail a trial by depending on our own strength or wisdom isn’t it sin? Doesn’t it damage our relationship with the Lord?
If we fall to temptation by taking our eyes off from Jesus isn’t it sin? Doesn’t that also damage our relationship with the Lord?
So, from that point of view trials and testing seem very much like temptation. But, they are actually very different.
It is generally believed that trials and testing can come from the Lord and temptations come from the realm of the devil.
What do I mean by “from the realm of the devil”?
First we need to know what is the Kingdom of God on earth composed of? Souls who have been saved by the grace of God and cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus shed on the cross of Calvary.
What does the realm of the devil consist of? All those who are not in the Kingdom of God. Those who have not responded to the grace of God, have not repented of their sin. Those whose are still in the grip of the old sinful nature.