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"Where Temptation Comes From"
James 1:13-18

Sunday School Youth Group Study Notes
June 8, 2008

Theme: We can't blame God when we are tempted—because the source is in ourselves.

(Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version; copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

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.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.

Pastor James showed us a very important and encouraging principle about temptation in verse 12. Even though temptations to sin are a reality in life, we're very blessed when we "endure temptation", and come out the other side having resisted.

And now, to help us "resist", he shows us were those temptations comes from.


A. We can never say that temptation comes from God. When temptations come, they come because God permits them to come into our lives. But He is never the source of them. James says "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'". You might ask, "Would someone actually say that?" Well; yes they would—if they wanted to find an excuse for why they failed and sinned. If I can say that it was God's fault— because He made me to be weak in some particular area of sin, and then tempted me so that I would stumble and sin—then I'm off the hook. But as James says, "God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone".

B. To prove this, James goes on to talk about what God is really like in verses 17-18:

1. He lets us know that "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down to us from the Father of lights . . ." (v. 17). God is not the one who sends bad things our way, but rather sends every good thing to us. Is there anything good and beautiful and satisfying in your life? It came from Him.

2. What's more, He never changes or ceases to be the source of all good. James says that there isn't even a "shadow of turning" in Him. If you shine a flashlight on to something, you make a shadow on the wall behind it. And if you move the flashlight slightly, you make a slight "turning" in the shadow. The thing itself didn't move; but the shadow did. Well; there isn't even that with God—not even a shadow of turning. He never changes from being the good God He is.

3. To stress how good God is, James says, "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures" (v. 18). The plan for our salvation is His idea; and He's the one who willingly set the plan into motion. In this plan, He's the one who "brought us forth"—that is, gave birth to us in His Son Jesus Christ—by "the word of truth" which He Himself spoke. He did this so that we would be like "firstfruits"—the best fruit of the harvest, and that served as an indication that more fruit was coming! This is talking about our future glory in Jesus (1 John 1:1-3). The point is that, if He is good, and never changes, and did all of this to make us like Jesus, He's not going to work against it all at the same time by tempting us so that we stumble into sin!


A. If we want to find the source of the problem, we need to look in ourselves. It's our own sinful desires that are the problem.

1. Think of it like "fishing". How do you catch a fish? You don't jump into the water swinging a baseball bat at the trout! You "lure" the fish. James says that we are first "drawn away" by our own desires. Eve was drawn away by Satan's questions in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-5).

2. Next, we're "enticed". We emphasize the "short-term benefits" we think that sin will bring us—completely forgetting the long-term consequences. Eve was "enticed" when she looked longingly at the fruit (Genesis 3:6).

3. Then, desire "conceives". It makes the connection between the "want" in our heart and the "grab" with our hand. We finally "do" what we're tempted to do; and sin is produced. Eve took this step when she took the fruit and ate (Genesis 3:6).

4. Finally, we're told that when sin is "full-grown"—that is, when we do what we know God does not want us to do—it brings forth "death". Adam and Eve were told that, on the day they ate of the forbidden fruit, they would die (Gen. 2:17); and after eating, they immediately experienced a separation from God (Gen. 3:9). Sin always costs—and the wages is always "death" (Romans 6:23).

B. James urges us not to be fooled—"Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren" (v. 16). If you want to know who to blame, look in the mirror. It's you and me.

* * * * * * * * * *


Think about it: Has there ever been a time when you sinned and blamed it on someone else?

Read 1 John 1:8-9. How does blaming others short-circuit God's desire to forgive us?

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