Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death… Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:13-17)
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. (1 John 2:16)
These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you. (Psalm 50:21)
Over the past few emails we’ve been looking at the relationship between our will and God’s will. We’ve seen how God can use the evil desires of some to bring about his will, and how even seemingly random events serve God’s purposes. His will is simply deeper than ours, but that doesn’t excuse our actions. We weren’t simply following orders.
The Apostle James is insistent that God is not the author of sin - he tempts no-one. The fact that he can use evil as a means to bring about good does not excuse the evil, judgment still falls onto one who does wrong. The Apostle John makes a similar point, and wants to ensure we recognise the distinction between things which come from God and things which come from “the world”.
The final quote, from Psalm 50, is a telling one. All too often silence is taken for assent, and that applies to the spiritual world too. People - maybe even we - seem to get away with things, and there are no consequences. Worse, at times we think that God must think as we do and share our own morality. After all, isn’t God simply a better version of us at our best? There are many reasons for God’s silence, some of which we will look at in a further email, but the psalmist understands that justice will be done in the end.
We do bear the consequences for our own actions, but God has also extended to us the offer of forgiveness. Rather than thinking we are good enough, better to see that Christ is entirely good and allow him to bear our sins for us. The cross is, after all, a sign of grace and mercy.