Have you ever wondered how God could bring such hard things into your life? If it is true that He is sovereign and controls everything, then how could He allow bad things to happen to seemingly good people? It’s one of mankind’s greatest doubts about God and has led many to reject that there even is a God. James, the brother of Jesus, in his New Testament letter even acknowledges that some would even say “I am being tempted by God”, but is this possible? Can God tempt us?
In James opening chapter of his letter, he lays out the framework for helping us understand the perspective we should have when we consider this thought. Understanding hinges on our concept of testing, or the trials that we are confronted with in this life. James actually uses a play of words in his opening chapter to help us understand this. The Greek word (peirazo) that he uses for testing in verse 2 is the same word he uses for tempting in verse 13.
But if that is the case and God is the one bringing testing into our lives, does this also mean that He is tempting us? Obviously, the relationship between testing and tempting in trials is a question that humanity has wrestled with for Millenia. But as we look at James words, the answer becomes clear for those willing to receive wisdom. What we see from James, in his word play, is that he is melding these words together to help us understand that within the trial we can find both testing from God and tempting from the evil one. James is identifying that how you see the trial will depend on your mindset in dealing with the issue of doubt in the trial.
You are made to have a single-mind that pursues God’s purposes, but because sin has taken over this world a new mind now dictates our natural state. This mindset seeks its own gain and purposes. It is double-minded and plagued by doubt. James tells us what a mindset of doubt looks like. He says the double-minded are:
Dwellers on Fear and Anxiety
Inconsistent and Unreliable
Trying to find Wisdom apart from God
Doubters of God’s Promises
Unstable/Unsure of the Path ahead
Living for this Life only
Pursuing their own Purposes
Blamers of Others/God
Acting to fulfill their Desires
Easily deceived by False Doctrine
Giving themselves glory for good Gifts
Doubt is at the heart of what we believe isn’t it? The things that we doubt the least are the things we hold closest. They are the things that define who we are. If we have no doubt that money can solve our problems, then we will do everything we can to attain it. If a relationship is what we know will make us whole, then we will devote ourselves with finding the “right one”. If we are sure that the answer to our problems is science, then we will consume ourselves with gaining our own knowledge and fighting our world’s problems through finite means.
You see, doubt is at the heart of everything we do. It’s why we search for who we are, because deep down we really are not sure. You know it wasn’t meant to be this way. We were designed to be sure of our identity, and to know our purpose on this tiny blue dot.
The great deception is that we are our worst enemies and masters at filling our own minds with doubt. We are doing our best to use doubt to bring our own destruction. The evil one uses doubt to make us double-minded. James lays out the slippery slope that this double-mind takes us down in James 1:14-15.
"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."
- James 1:14-15
Here we recognize the game plan of the evil one and how our natural state creates a double-mind. We see the path a double-mind leads us down below:
A seed of doubt is planted in your mind about what you believe.
You are lured with a temptation tailored specifically for you.
Sin is bred by getting you to act on your desires.
Sin grows by being double-minded and when fully mature brings death.
So, how do we guard against these attacks? How do we find victory over the double-mind? Well, James wants you to know that you were made for a single purpose: to bring glory to your Maker! When you by faith put your faith in Christ and His reconciling work, then the natural mind loses its power. God literally gives you a new mind. God has created you to be single-minded in this purpose and James tells us that the single-minded are marked by:
Dwelling on Joy
Asking God for Wisdom
Being assured of God’s Promises
Stability and Confident in all their Ways
Living for the Life to come
Pursuing God’s Purposes
Recognizing Temptation is Internal
Acting to fulfill God’s Desires
Being not easily deceived
Giving God glory for all good Gifts
God has created you to be single-minded in His purposes and when you come to faith in Christ something amazing happens. Christ makes a way for you to once again gain what you once have lost: the very mind of God. I Corinthians 2:14-16 says:
"The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 'For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ."
- I Corinthians 2:14-16
In a way, it is as if we all have spiritual amnesia and the reason we feel so lost in this world is because we have lost our way.
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
- Isaiah 53:6
The revelation of Christ has, in full effect, given us a perfect and direct view into the mind of God. In Christ we see, in human form, the attributes of God that ground our minds in true understanding of our purpose. That just like Christ we are called to think, and act based solely off the will of the Father.
This allows us to take the difficulties of the testing that God brings in our lives and find joy. It allows us to more and more grab onto His steadfastness and to put to death the mindset that doubts He is everything we need.
You were made for a purpose! If you will simply ask God for wisdom by faith in Christ’s finished work, He is faithful and generous to give you a mind that thinks like He does and to treasure the things that He treasures.
Live joyful today in the fact that God has given you everything you need to stand the outward test and resist the temptation from within, and that when you don’t live up to this standard, He has afforded grace in your weakness!
Blog by Chad Gfeller of CrossWay International Baptist Church.
Published on 5. May 2020 from Berlin, Germany.
Photo by Ayaz Lalani on Unsplash.