Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 4
Let no one being tempted say, “I am tempted from God,” for God is not tempted by evil, and so He Himself tempts no one. Rather, each one is tempted, being led away and enticed by his own desires. Afterward, the desire (having conceived) gives birth to sin, and the sin (having become fully-grown) brings forth death. Be not led astray, my beloved brothers! (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 1:13-16, mjlt)
Bad things happen all the time. They happen to “bad” people as much as they happen to “good” ones. So when bad things happen, it’s natural for us to wonder, “Why, God? Why did you allow this bad thing to happen to me?” It’s not a rebellious thought—it’s a question. It’s seeking to know what is quite often unknowable. Yet questioning this way has the potential to become extremely problematic, as it can lead to accusation. “I thought you were a loving God! A loving God would never allow a bad thing to happen, so this bad thing is your fault, God! Or, maybe, you don’t even exist at all!” And down the slippery slope we go. When we reach this point, though, it’s not because we don’t understand God—it’s because we don’t understand the consequences of sin, and how sin works.
When the very first bad thing in all of history happened, it wasn’t because of God (see Romans 5:12). It started with one man and one woman’s temptation. But “no one being tempted [may] say, ‘I am tempted from God,’ for God is not tempted by evil, and so He Himself tempts no one.” Enter: an external stimuli, a stray thought, an outside voice telling a person he can have something he shouldn’t… and in that moment lies the opportunity to choose. This is temptation. It is the same process that happens everyday with everyone of us. But it’s what happens next that really matters.
“Rather, each one is tempted, being led away and enticed by his own desires.” So, it is not by God’s efforts but our own desires that we are enticed to do wrong. At the moment our desires become activated by the temptation, we have not yet sinned, but there remains only an instant to choose whether we will turn away from it, or grant our desires the permission and power to lead us.
And then, once we have acquiesced our conscience’s authority, “afterward, the desire (having conceived) gives birth to sin, and the sin (having become fully-grown) brings forth death.” Like a wanton woman inviting impregnation, desire resides within us, awaiting temptation’s overture. Then, from the moment the two unite, sin is conceived within us—our own desire giving it life.
From this point on, sin can do nothing but grow out of control—clouding our judgment, rendering reason and warnings useless, becoming increasingly impossible to eradicate. And save the intervention of Yeshua through the Ruach HaQodesh, we will remain at sin’s mercy until it is done having its way with us. Then, when sin becomes its own full-grown, monstrous being—ravaging and destroying our lives from the inside—”sin… brings forth death.” We become an empty, unredeemable husk, suffering the eternal consequences of our lustful choices.
Bad things do not happen because God is unloving, or unfit, or unable, or unalive. So why, then, do bad things happen? Because we leave the door open to temptation, desire, sin, and death. Not only are we directly impacted by our own poor decisions and moral failings, as well as the errors and choices of those around us, but even where “bad things” like disease and disaster are concerned, our responses can mean the difference between life or death.
Though we may still sometimes ask God, “Why?” yet never be given an answer, one thing is for sure: the “bad thing” of sin and death that affects every one of us is not God’s fault—it is ours; and it is unfair to expect Him to put a stop to something that we ourselves have set in motion. It is time to stop living obliviously and unaware regarding our desires, and instead admit our weaknesses, and prepare ourselves to resist temptation by enacting God’s Word in our lives. We need to guard against the lure of our desires before our actions force us to bear the consequences of our self-wrought sin. “Be not led astray, my beloved brothers!”
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