In the summer of 2016, my niece convinced me to play Pokémon Go—a game played on a smartphone, using the phone’s camera. The object of the game is to capture little creatures called Pokémon. When one appears in the game, a red and white ball also appears on the phone’s screen. To capture a Pokémon, the player has to flick the ball toward it with the movement of a finger. Pokémon are more easily caught, however, by using a lure to attract them.
Pokémon characters aren’t the only ones who can be lured away. In his New Testament letter to believers, James, the brother of Jesus, reminds us that we “are dragged away by [our] own evil desire” (1:14, emphasis added). In other words, our desires work with temptation to lure us down a wrong path. Though we may be tempted to blame God or even Satan for our problems, our real danger lies within.
But there is good news. We can escape the lure of temptation by talking to God about the things that tempt us. Though “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone,” as James explains in 1:13, He understands our human desire to do what’s wrong. We have only to ask for the wisdom God promised to provide (1:1–6).
Lord, when I’m tempted, show me the door of escape.
Pray your way past the urge to do wrong.
The word translated “tempted” or “tempting” (used four times in James 1:13) comes from the Greek word peirasmos, which has two basic meanings. The first is to test the genuineness of one’s faith. This is the meaning in verses 2–4 when James encourages believers who are tempted to rejoice because “the testing of your faith” brings maturity. The second meaning, “to entice to sin or to do evil,” is intended in verses 13–15. God will not tempt or entice us to sin. His perfect holiness, purity, and goodness ensure this. Instead, the enticement to sin comes from our own sinful desires. This is the meaning of peirasmos in Matthew 26:38–41. In the garden of Gethsemane, as Christ was struggling with the necessity of going to the cross, He asked His disciples to pray with Him; instead, they slept. Jesus cautioned, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” (v. 41). As we turn our temptations over to God in prayer, He will “provide a way out so that [we] can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
For further study on this subject, reflect on Psalm 119:9–11. What do these verses say will help us overcome temptation? Sim Kay Tee