GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED
James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 ¶ Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
One of the true indicators in the christian experience to accurately discern ones degree of true spirituality is the endurance of God-appointed trials. The Apostle Paul even informed those believers of Thessalonica that this was how he even knew of their election! 1 Thessalonians 1:4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:
And here is how the Lord expressed the upcoming ministry of Saul of Tarsus. Acts 9:13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Then this same man, now the Apostle Paul, states that he was aware of his personal acquaintance with the Lord Jesus by entering into the “fellowship of his sufferings.” Philippians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 ¶ And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
And also the Apostle Peter informs us that the pattern of the believer’s life is from the example of Christ’s life; even in his sufferings! 1 Peter 2:19 For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
Then he goes on and states that every believer must “suffer a while” before being strengthened and made perfect. 1 Peter 5:10 But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. And it is strictly by following his example that we may come to be identified with him. Luke 14:27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
And considering the account of the shepherd’s losing one of his hundred sheep, we read of the special relationship of the recovered sinner, that when it is found it he is laid upon the shepherd’s shoulder, causing the shepherd to rejoice. Luke 15:5 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. Does this give us some insight into the special graciousness of our Lord when we enter into the confession of our sins with him? Are we not denying both the Lord and ourselves that most special fellowship into which he is especially given? Listen carefully to the following verse, focusing upon the bringing forth of his personal traits of his faithfulness and being just! And when are those attributes of the person of the Savior brought forth? It is when we confess our sins! 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Of course we should not sin in order for grace to abound. Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. But what a glorious rejoicing we may enter into with our Shepherd-Saviour as he enters into his special graciousness in the cleansing of us from sin!
For if the character of the religionist is wholly given to “wallowing in the mire,” he most definitely is not a sheep! And even if a mere outward confession is made, with no repentance, there remains nothing but the old nature of a sow or dog! 2 Peter 2:20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
But what are we to think when we read our James 1:13 verse in light of Matthew 4:1? James truly states that “God cannot be tempted!” But Matthew 4:1, in our KJV Bibles states, Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And also in Genesis 22:1 we read, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.” However in both of these verses we know that the more proper word would be “tested” and not “tempted.” For after the Lord stops Abraham from slaying Isaac, he states, “for now I know that thou fearest God.” The Amplified Bible reads, “for now I know that you fear and revere God.” The ‘temptation’ was but a trial to prove his love for God.
And this brings on an entirely different thought in considering the account of Satan’s temptation of Christ as recorded in Matthew chapter four. For since God cannot be tempted, and Jesus of Bethlehem is very God, this was to show that his coming forth from this event was, indeed, as God the Son! For in verse two of Matthew four we read that the Lord Jesus refused food to his humanity for forty days and nights. He brought his flesh down to its lowest point. He was showing that the flesh profiteth nothing! And this was that example of which the Apostle Peter spoke which the Lord Jesus provided for us. We are to face trials with our spiritual man. We cannot depend upon our natural man for anything. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Therefore we are clearly taught in the account of Jesus’ being tried that he is very God, as he cannot be tempted to evil! There can be no other understanding of this account in the light of our James 1:13 passage! The Lord Jesus himself clearly reveals this unto us. John 14:30 Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
But what can we know of the Lord’s affliction and crucifixion? In the verse immediately preceding that Matthew 4:1 verse we read in Matthew 3:17, And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. The Father was just as pleased with the Son in this temptation as he was when he came up out of the waters of the Jordan River! How do we know this? The Scriptures clearly reveal it unto us! Isaiah 53:10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
The Romans didn’t kill him! That would have been but an execution. And there is no redemption for us in that! The Jews did not kill him. That would have been but an assignation. And there would have been nor redemption of us in that! It was the Father who was pleased to bruise him! For in that alone was a sacrifice! And in that alone is redemption provided! Praise His name! … when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, … and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Yes, there was God’s usage of second causes of the “wicked hands” of both Jews and Romans! But it was only according to God’s “determinate counsel and foreknowledge!” Acts 2:23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
Imputation must have its part in this or there is no redemption! Our sins imputed (‘placed to the account of’) the Lord Jesus, in order that his righteousness, which is the righteousness of God, may be imputed unto us! 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. He knew no sin! That is, “he was conscious of no guilt!” The perfectly sinless stood in the place of the perfectly sinful, owning their guilt, owning their sin, in order that they, by his grace might own his righteousness! Blessed be God!
When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, and was having our sin imputed to him, the Father forsook him! Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? God could not ‘behold evil!’ Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:
But in this “temptation” recorded in Matthew four, the Father was still “well pleased” and sent angels to minister to him! Matthew 4:11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Therefore in this account of his ‘temptation,’ or ‘trial,’ he is given to be seen as the sinless God! Whereas on the cross, actually having our sins imputed to him, he was seen to be the sacrificial Lamb of God! So James 1:13 is correct in his being seen to be God who cannot be tempted.
Simply stated, his ‘temptation’ in the wilderness as recorded in Matthew four reveals him to be very God who cannot be tempted. But on the cross, as he was being made to be sin for us, he is seen as the Lamb of God with the Father forsaking him!
That realization of our sins causing that to happen which had never, ever occurred before, that is, the Father being separated from the Son, should make every true believer deeply repentant! Consider these two verses: Proverbs 8:30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; From all eternity the Son had always been the Father’s delight. But now our sin severs that relationship upon the cross! Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
How could any realized sinner face those facts and not be horrified that our sins did that? And with that awful burden of guilt at this – the most heinous crime – not cry out for mercy and forgiveness?
And now listen to the sweet, soft voice of the Shepherd as that trembling, previously lost and afraid, straying lamb lies upon the shoulder of this Shepherd! Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Oh Welcomed yoke! Oh Blessed cross! Let us kiss the son in deep allegiance to Him for our previous rebellion, and for our future commitment to him and his kingdom’s service! Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
We conclude by observing that when Satan would affix sin to our Lord Jesus as recorded in Matthew chapter four, it only proved that he was very God, and therefore could not be tempted! But when the Father was pleased to affix sin to him, he became the substitute for all God’s elect as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of their world. 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Isaiah 53:10 ¶ Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
To God be the glory!
Pastor Gene Breed
November 26, 2021