Temptation can come in many forms. Something which is tempting to one person may have zero effect on someone else. For example, alcoholic beverage venders have no effect on me, but chocolate shops are a different matter. We will look at four aspects related to the pressure of temptation.
As a point to begin, we need to consider temptation’s origin (vv. 13-15). God never tempts anyone to sin. What we sometimes denote as a temptation could more accurately be denoted a strengthening test or exercise. As some of the Church Fathers have observed, God is in the business of soul-building, not soul-wrecking. He can send the refiners fire into our lives to advance our spiritual growth. In the downward spiral given by James, sin arises out of human lust. Lust if not checked will lead one into sin, and sin leads to death, both spiritual and, sometimes, physical. One could document this in the lives of drug addicts. As someone has noted, sin is the opportunity to meet a God given desire in a God-forbidden way.
Another source of temptation comes from Satan. Read the account of our Lord’s temptation as proffered by Satan as recorded in Luke 4:1-13. The temptations related to food (v. 3), power (v. 6) and pride (v. 9). It is no casual affair that Satan used those three avenues of gaining access into human beings. They were exactly the three approaches that Satan, the serpent, employed successfully to seduce Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Whereas Satan successfully corrupted the pair in the Garden, Jesus triumphed alone with Satan in the wilderness. Satan still follows the same pattern of activity with us. The Apostle John phrased it this way: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is one the world” (1 John 2:16).
Also, the pressure of temptation can cause one to miss the holy light (vv. 16-17). James surely could remember the event when his half-brother, Jesus, announced He was the light of the world (John 8:12). As C. S. Lewis has observed, statements like that one cannot be attributed to a man who was just a man. He is what He claimed, or He was a lunatic. James could remember the Lord’s portrayal of His followers as being the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13). They have been charged with the responsibility of transforming human being into serving as bright lights in a gloomy world of spiritual darkness. The heavenly Father still bestows good gifts (James 1:14).
Finally, James calls the attention of the twelve tribes to their role as being God’s first-fruits (v. 18). The background for this concept goes all the way back to the law God gave through Moses. The firstfruits represent the first harvest of a crop, considered a symbol of the best, usually the first picking or cutting.
Israel, therefore, was to present the firstfruits to God as a symbol of dedicating their best to Him (Ex. 23:19; Lev. 23:9-14). The day following Pentecost they were to take samples of the firstfruits and wave it before God, a recognition that everything belonged to Him. Jeremiah 2:3 affirms Israel to be the firstfruits to God.
In the New Testament, the first converts from a given region were called the firstfruits (Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:15). The redeemed 144,000 of Israel were called the firstfruits (Rev. 14:4). Even the Holy Spirit becomes the firstfruit (Rom. 8:38) as does the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 16:15).
We can now grasp the impact of James’s characterization. The converted Jews become the new Israel among the nations. This becomes their great commission.
You must be login before you can leave a comment. Click here to Register if you are a new user.