Summary: When we disobey God by sinning, let’s not shift the blame or justify our actions with the faulty “the devil made me do it” theology. Instead, let’s take full responsibility for our actions, confess our sins to a gracious and forgiving Father, and pursue r
Opening illustration: In March 2009, a 62-year old woman was charged with stealing more than $73,000 from her church in the state of Washington. When the detectives interrogated her, she told them: “Satan had a big part in the theft.” It sounds like she was saying that the devil made her do it.
Satan may have played a role in her choices, but she had some faulty thinking about temptation and sin. The devil tempts believers, but he doesn’t make us sin. James tells us that God isn’t to blame either: “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” [James 1: 13]. He is good and holy. (Illustration from Marvin Williams, Our Daily Bread)
Let us get into God’s Word and turn to James 1 and check out who really makes us do it …
Introduction: At the back of this passage there lies a Jewish way of belief which is also a universal way of belief of which all of us are to some extent guilty. James is here rebuking the man who puts the blame for temptation on to God.
Jewish thought was haunted by the inner division that is in every man. It was the problem that haunted Paul: “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7: 22, 23). Every man is a walking civil war; and every man is pulled in two directions. Purely as an interpretation of experience the Jews arrived at the doctrine that in every man there are two tendencies or two natures so called the good and evil tendencies. Now this simply states the problem; it does not explain it. In particular it does not say where the evil tendency came from. So Jewish thought set out to try to explain where the evil tendency came from. Some came up with theories of Satan implanting that in man, some went to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how Satan had physical desires for Eve, which are talked about in Genesis the sons of God having physical relationships with the daughters of men. Some Jewish rabbis said that the fallen angels were responsible for it … whatever theories emerged they just simply pushed the problem one step further back. Where did the evil tendency ultimately come from? Satan may have put it into man; the fallen angels may have put it into man; man may have put it into himself. But where did it ultimately come from?
To meet this problem some rabbis took a bold and very dangerous step. They argued that, since God has created everything, He must have created the evil tendency also … The danger of all this is obvious. It means that in the last analysis a man can blame God for his own sin. He can say, as Paul says, “It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7: 15-24). Of all strange doctrines surely the strangest is that God is directly and ultimately responsible for sin.
Who made you do it?
1. God? (v. 13)
In this verse the word ‘tempted’ means ‘a solicitation to evil,’ and this, James says, is not from God but from man’s own inner lust. There is nothing in God that has a tendency to do or think wrong; there can be nothing presented from without to induce him to do wrong:
• There is no evil passion to be gratified, as there is in men;
• There is no want of power, so that an allurement could be presented to seek what he has not;
• There is no want of wealth, for he has infinite resources, and all that there is or can be is his Psalm_50: 10-11;
• There is no want of happiness that he should seek happiness in sources which are not now in his possession. Nothing, therefore, could be presented to the divine mind as an inducement to do evil.
We are perpetually thinking - the heart suggests it constantly - that God does place before us inducements to evil, with a view to lead us to sin. This is done in many ways:
• People take such views of his decrees as if the doctrine implied that he meant that we should sin, and that it could not be otherwise than that we should sin.
• It is felt that all things are under his control, and that he has made his arrangements with a design that men should do as they actually do.