Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Have you Been Deceived?

Have you been deceived?
Have you been pulled off course by what you believed about temptation and the work of the enemy in our lives?

I've been reading in James the last few weeks and I was struck by something I think I've often missed because of how our English Bibles separate verses and paragraphs.

In James 1:13-18, James goes from talking about temptation to talking about God being the One who gives good gifts and is never changing. In the middle of this passage, there is a key verse that somehow links these two seemingly different things.

James 1:16 says, "Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters."

Because these words are the start of a paragraph about God' good gifts and His being not changing, I have always put verse 16 solely with these words in my thoughts. The visual of being in the same paragraph meant that's how I read it.

But, when I was reading recently, I found that I read the verses before and paused after reading verse 16. When I read it this way, I saw a link of verse 16 with the verses beforehand; a link I think we can easily miss. At least, I often do.

James 1:13-16 says:
"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 desires and enticed. Them, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown gives birth to death.
Do not be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters."
I asked you the questions I began this post with, not to make you feel bad, but to help you see my point. I'm going to guess that everyone reading this could answer yes. All the varying degrees and at various times. But, I think I'm pretty safe to say we've all be deceived at some point - especially about temptation and sin. After all, our enemy is a master of deception and wants nothing more than for us to be deceived, because it gives him control in our lives.

These verses in James highlight an area where being deceived is especially dangerous. If Satan can get us to believe that God is tempting us, he has a lot of influence in our lives. When it comes to temptation, it is vital that we know and understand the truth, so we don't fall to the enemy's schemes.

God may allow the temptation, but He is never the one tempting us. And He always provides a way out when it does come, so we can stand (1 Corinthians 10:13). If we don;t know this truth, we won't be able to stand on it, and we'll fall for the enemy's schemes every time.

The reality is, we often imply or outright say that our temptation is from God and this is not true. These words in James 1:13-16 make it pretty clear that God does not tempt us. When Scripture speaks of someone facing temptation, it always says the temptation was by Satan (Matthew 4:1).

Temptation always comes from our evil desires, the fallen humanity in us, and Satan will use that to grab hold of us and deceive us. Satan will use whatever he can frond to play on those desires and get us to give in to sin.

We cannot be deceived in this area. Temptation is not from God.

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