Don’t be deceived my dearly loved brothers. Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. By His own choice, He gave us a new birth by the message of truth so that we would be the first fruits of His creatures. ~ James 1:16-18
Explanation of the Text: We should be concerned about how quickly we justify our sin or slyly pass the blame onto someone else. So common is the reaction that it is the natural inclination and it tends to be the action glorified in our society . . . don’t accept blame, always pass it to someone else. In both of these instances, believers, such as those that James is writing to, become deceived. Self-deception is a grave sin because it convinces us to think we are much better off than we really are. It undermines the significance of sin and the holiness of God. Therefore, in light of the believers’ propensity to blame God for their temptation, James not only writes to them to suggest that God is not to blame but to urge them to accept both reality and responsibility.
Not only is God not responsible for temptation, but we learn that every generous act and every perfect gift comes from God. Therefore, it is legitimate to conclude that temptation is incongruent with the character of God. Instead, in light of who God is and has always been since there is never any variation, he gave the ultimate perfect gift through His Son, Jesus Christ. Instead of bringing forth temptation, God gave the gospel that gives salvation to people so that they may be the first fruits of creation.
Examination & Application of the Text: I remember just a few years ago watching two close friends (about 8 years old). One day one went running and the younger went to follow when suddenly the first quickly turned to run back the other way knocking the friend to the ground in an excruciating blow to the head. The first words out of her mouth were not “I’m sorry” or “Are you OK” but “He caused it.” I began to notice that this was the pattern among the friends; whenever they were in trouble she quickly blamed her friend. I fear that this is the way of society these days. We are so deceived by our justification of ourselves that we are in grave danger of not merely walking the line of sin, but completely giving ourselves over to it. We begin to blur the lines between God’s message and our motivation.
Instead, believers are called to be the first fruits of creation. The first fruits were usually the best of the harvest that which were set apart and dedicated to God. Interestingly, many farmers would look to the first fruits as an indication of what harvest would be like and in good stewardship those first fruits would be set aside in case the rest of the crop did not survive. Thus, the offering of the first fruits was an indication of trust in God’s provision, because without them there was no guarantee of what was to come. It is the same for us; our lives should be the first fruits of creation offered to God in sacrifice (Romans 12:1) and an example to others.
Such an act of obedience is not done in complete ignorance. Obedience makes sense in light of who God is. He is without variation and is the giver of life. It is not he who tempts us, but he who relieves us of our temptation. In light of that, we do not deceive ourselves but look to Him, follow Him, and develop a relationship with Him.
Questions to Consider:
Why is it important to know that God does not tempt and that he never changes?
How might you be deceiving yourself about your sin? Do you justify your sin?
What can be done to fall out of this trap of self-deception and how can you turn to God?