Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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“Tempted” VS “Tempted”

(The following article was written by Justin Carrell, a member of the West Side congregation)

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” (James 1:13, KJV).

In class last Wednesday, we briefly discussed the middle of James chapter one; particularly verses 13 and 14. This passage is often confused. The reason is the same as we mentioned in class. God creates tempting things. However, the passage says that God does not tempt anyone. How do we reconcile these two things?

First, we must consider the definitions of the Greek words in question. (Yes, words not word. This is because a version of “tempt” appears four times in verse 13; however, the third usage is a different Greek word.) “I am tempted of God:” The Greek word here means tempt or assay (to examine or analyze, to judge the quality of). What does that mean? It’s easiest to use an example. If I leave a candy bar on my desk at work, a coworker may be tempted to steal it. However, I’m not tempting them. I’m not judging their quality. Now, if I take a candy bar, open the wrapper and wave it under someone’s nose; then I am tempting them. I am taking an active part to test my coworker.

How does the other Greek word differ? “(God) (can)(not be tempted)” There are three Greek words here, which literally translate “God exists (not triable)”. Again, what does that mean? Consider passages such as Zechariah 13:9, “will try them as gold is tried.” Gold is tried by fire (1 Peter 1:7). One heats the gold and impurities are burned out. However, if the gold is left in the fire too long (or if the fire is too hot), the gold will be ruined and destroyed. James is saying God exists perpetually untriable. No matter how “hot the fire” it will have no affect on God. God is already perfectly pure. He will not be destroyed or degraded. It is really quite poetic and in fact, the only place in the Bible this word is used. God is impermeable and immutable.

So, there are two things to take away. First, you should find security in God. Can you imagine worshiping a god who could be tried; who wasn’t consistent? It would be awful. You could never be sure. Praise and thank God for his love and consistency. Second, understand what James meant when the Holy Spirit wrote through him, “neither tempteth he any man.” It does not mean that God did not create tempting things. Some will mention that the fruit God put in the garden. Others will mention that he allows things such as alcohol to exist. I’ll take it one further. God made Satan. Satan surely tempts the world. That’s not the point. God made these things, just as I set the candy bar on my desk, but he doesn’t wave them in front of our face. In fact, “No temptation hath taken you–except human; and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but He will make, with the temptation, also the outlet, for your being able to bear it ” (1 Corinthians 10:13, YLT). God gives you a way of escape. “not purposing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, MKJV). God wants you in heaven. God created only good things. But, God gave free will. With that comes a chance for evil. Evil from Satan. Evil from men. “All these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (Mark 7:23, KJV) Watch yourself. Watch those you are among. Watch for temptation. Flee when you can. When you cannot flee, guard against the temptation, meditate on the words of God, pray to God.

Justin Carrell