It has taken a month for this to really sink in. It’s not that I didn’t understand the truth of this verse or the principle that lay behind it, but the reality and depth of this verse didn’t hit me fully until Sunday past. In this verse James says:
“…but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”
James has just said that God Himself does not tempt people and, now, tells us clearly and simply that our temptations are birthed by our own evil desires. There’s not much else to it and, yet, this took me a month to fully grasp.
In ancient times, there was a season for battle and kings would take their armies and go to war. However, one king, one season, did not lead his armies to war but allowed his generals to lead in his place. This king remained behind in his palace, one fateful evening, walking along his roof-top where he spied upon a beautiful woman bathing unsuspectingly. Being the king, he had her brought to him and, eventually, she conceived a child.
Upon hearing this news, he created a conspiracy to cover this up, as the woman was married, recalling the husband from the battlefield to have a holiday with his wife for his faithful service. Too faithful was the man and never took the holiday, rather he remained in the courts of the king and, when that failed, returned to the battlefield with haste. Orders were given to place the man in the centre of the battle, a place of honour, where he, essentially, would die in the heat of battle.
The king was safe, the woman, now, a widow, after a period of mourning, was taken to the king as his new wife. After a year, the child was born and all celebrated with no hint of what had conspired under their noses. Yet, one day, with the child playing in the courtyard, the king is sought by a dear, close friend. The king, happily, draws into a place of seclusion to speak with this dear friend who tells him a story of injustice within his kingdom. The king flares up at the injustice and, almost, calls upon his royal guard to go hunt down the man, when his friend with tears running down his face grabs hold of the king, looks him in the eyes and says, “You, my brother, you are that man.”
The king falls to his knees, realising what had just conspired. His friend falls beside him and there is silence. The king begins to shake and tears start rolling down his cheeks, he tears his robes and the full weight of what he had done, a year ago, floods back into his memory.
My dear brothers and sisters, look in the mirror. King David was, said to be, a man after the heart of God, yet even he succumbed to the wiles of his evil desires. To read the full story above see 1 Samuel 11-12 and David’s response is found in Psalm 51.
Again, don’t kid yourself into thinking that God is the one who tempts us. Don’t be stupid. We are free beings able to think and act of our own accord, we are not puppets on a string with every movement controlled as God desires. If King David, revered through the ages as one of the most faithful men of God, fell how much more should we be on guard against our own desires?