The phrase "God cannot be tempted by evil" seems to be peculiar. How can God be tempted to do evil? Is this passage about God being tempted, or about His tempting us?
ESV - 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
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After using the word temptation in the sense of trial, James now uses it in the sense of solicitation to sin. God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any man with it. Evil temptations come from evil, not from good. Seven Steps in Temptation 1. Tempted: thought of evil (v. 14) 2. Drawn away: strong imagination (v. 14) 3. Lust: delight in viewing it (v. 14) 4. Enticed: weakening of the will (v. 14) 5. Lust conceived: yielding (v. 15) 6. Sin: sinful act committed (v. 15) 7. Death: result of actual sin (v. 15) The above 4 steps are NOT sin as they can have the lustful feelings and emotions of Satan himself. Temptations are NOT sin. But yielding to temptations are sin. We read about three kinds of lusts (desires) in Bible: 1. Lusts of man (v. 14; Jas. 4:2; Gal. 5:16) 2. Lusts of Satan (Jn. 8:44; Eph. 2:2-3 Rom. 6:12; 1Jn. 2:17; 3:8) 3. Lusts (desires) of God (Gal. 5:17,22-23 Ps. 51:6)
To me, the point that James is making is that, if God were capable of being tempted with evil (which I would construe as His being even capable of contemplating or conceiving the possibility of Himself committing evil -- even if He did not follow through by doing so), He would not be the perfect, absolutely holy, sinless Being that He is. That same holiness is then the guarantee or assurance that He would/does not tempt us to commit sin, but that any temptations we experience are the product of the fallen world in which we live, our sinful human natures, or the activity of Satan and his demonic followers. (I agree that there are passages in some translations of Scripture that speak of God repenting of doing "evil" that He had said that He would do (as when He decided to spare Nineveh in Jonah 3, for example), but any "evil" involved in those actions is only from a human perspective. From God's standpoint, such actions are always righteous judgments that are fully merited and deserved by human conduct. And any decisions God makes not to execute those judgments, or to provide a means of avoiding them (as by faith in Christ, for example), are pure grace and mercy on His part.)
"Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God,' for GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED WITH EVIL, and he himself tempts no one." James 1:13 I'm seeing it this way: It would be an impossibility for God to tempt anyone, because to tempt someone would itself be evil. It would contradict His very nature, which is love. Love always wants what's best for another. It lifts others up and helps them become all they can be. Causing someone to fall into sin would be diametrically opposed to God's will for us, which is to enable us by His Spirit to walk in righteousness, growing from glory to glory to become ever more like Jesus. "A house divided against itself cannot stand." (Mark 3:25) It would make no sense for God to make a way for us to fall into sin when He has already provided the Way out. So...we can rest assured that when we are tempted, it's not God trying to test us to see if we'll fall into His trap. We can find comfort in the midst of our temptations, knowing we can always trust Him to make the way out that He promised in 1 Cor. 10:13 (NLT): "God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure."
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