Review v 1-13 of James 1 and then move on to verse 14.
14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (NIV)
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (ESV)
We saw last week that God cannot be tempted by evil, and He does not tempt any one. And we need to review that because today's verse starts with "but"
John MacArthur: God tempts no one. He allows temptation to go on and men like David can make a choice. But God does not tempt. He allows us to be tested, even as He allowed Christ to be tested. But never more than we are able to bear and always giving the resource for victory if we choose that resource. And when we cry, "Lead us not trial or temptation," we are simply saying, "God, we ask You to do what You've promised to do and never give us more than we can bear."
So, the nature of evil says that God cannot be tempted. He can't even experience evil, therefore He can't tempt anybody else. As I said, in order to tempt someone else, He would have to delight Himself in temptation and sin which He is incapable of. His delight is only in that which is pure and holy.God cannot be tempted. God cannot tempt anyone. BUT every single person can be. Everyone. No exception.
When are we tempted? When we are lured or baited by our own lust and trapped into sin.
Just think about that imagery. The reason animals are baited and trapped and fish are baited and trapped is because the bait looks good. It looks attractive. It looks inviting. And all they see is the bait. And instead of the anticipated pleasure, when they grab the bait comes the pain of capture and death. So it is with temptation. It dangles out there and it promises a tasty indulgence, it promises a satisfying morsel, it promises greater pleasure, fun, reward and it lures the suckered victim into its trap and hook in a deadly way.
Now what does that? What does that? Whose fault is that? What pulls us so strongly to the bait? Is it God? No. Is it Satan? No, Satan baits the hook and the world baits the hook and demons bait the hook and men bait the hook and a lot of folks bait the hook but what pulls us to the hook? What pulls us to the trap? What is it? Lust. And that's the nature of man. Our fallenness has, as a part of its entity, desire for evil.
Would you notice it doesn't say he is drawn away by lust, but of his own lust? Very emphatic. "His own" emphasizes that we're not talking about some generic term only that everyone possess commonly with everyone else in just the same way. But each individual, “hekastos,” each individual has his own particular bent of lust which is really the thing that lures him to the bait. And is it not true that one person's passion is another's person's repulsion? Sure it is. I see people who are literally by their lust driven into homosexuality. That absolutely repulses me. You can bait that hook all you want in front of me and you'll see me go the other direction. We all have a certain, I wouldn't want to use the word character, but we all have certain characteristics of our lust which makes some baited traps and baited hooks more alluring to us than others. And that's why he is individualizing this by saying "his own" lust....
the problem in our sinning is not God, the problem is not even the devil, the problem is not even demons, the problem is not even the world or wicked men, listen, the world, wicked men, demons and the devil all surrounded Jesus Christ through His entire life and yet He never sinned because there was never in Him any “epithumia.” There was no lust. There was no pull. Nothing put on the hook attracted Him in any way.....The problem is not the tempter without, the problem is the traitor within, that's the problem. Our temptability is because of the nature of man and his own peculiar desires. And each person's soul has its own patterns of fleshly desire as a result of his environment and his upbringing and his personal choices....The issue is that in the nature of man, there is a propensity to desire things that satisfy. And if lured to those things outside the will of God, there is the capacity to bite the hook...
Pogo said, "We have met the enemy and the enemy is us." That's right. That's profound. The enemy is us....
The problem is that even though we've been redeemed and even though we've received a new nature and even though we are created in Christ Jesus, we still have an enemy within. And it is passion. It is that longing to be satisfied with something which in and of itself may be a good thing.
In fact, most all lust is simply God's good gift twisted and perverted. God, for example, gives us the blessing of sleep. And some people lust after it until they become lazy, indolent sluggards....
There's nothing wrong with thirst. God's given us that as a desire which leads us to do things beneficial to our body. But some people drink themselves into the gutter. There's nothing wrong with food, but some people become gluttonous. There's nothing wrong with wanting our needs supplied but it's easy to pervert your needs and get way beyond what they really are. Even sex is given by God as a wonderful glorious gift, but when perverted and sought for beyond the will of God, becomes the baited hook to trap the person who is driven by lust for those things.
Sorry, that got a little long, but I thought it was such an excellent explanation of this verse.
God is not responsible for our tempting. Our own lust is responsible. We are responsible. Every. single. one. of. us.
Doesn't that make you so thankful for the grace and mercy of God lavished on us in Christ Jesus?! Meditate on that as you hide this verse in your heart today.