“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).
Scammers have a variety of techniques to get our ear, win our trust, and suck us in to their schemes. The same is true of Satan, who is at work in our trials not to gain our money but to gain our heart.
James lays out the devil’s tactics, which are reminiscent of his approach to Eve in the Garden of Eden. There the devil prompted Eve to question the word of God: “Did God actually say?” Then he prompted Eve to question the character of God, suggesting that God was a liar and depriving Eve of what was good. All the while, Satan was appealing to the woman’s desire in order to pit her against God and direct her to destruction.
James describes how Satan lures us to ruin in our handling of trials. “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).
Our enemy the devil appeals to the wayward desire resident in our fallen hearts, urging us to make sense of things according to what is right in our own eyes rather than by the word of God. That desire coupled with foolishness gives birth to sin and leads not to life but to death. The upshot is we wither under the heat of trial rather than weather it for the strengthening our faith and growth in godliness.
In handling trials James emphasizes personal responsibility. His stress is on “each person” facing trials. We cannot blame the devil, as did Eve. We cannot blame God, as did Adam (“the woman You gave me”). We must take the reins in trials, handling them in the power and wisdom of God.
Handling trials ourselves does not mean, however, that we handle them alone. God is with us. He has also placed us in Christian community.
“Father, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from the evil one.”