Temptation | Sojourners


Blessed are those who endure trial, for when they have stood the test they will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love God. Let no one say when they are tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted with evil and God tempts no one; but all people are tempted when they are lured and enticed by their own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.
- James 1:12-15

Temptation has a visceral sound.

To speak the word summons images of lust and gluttony, pride and dissipation, self-aggrandizement and vulnerability, that which is at once seductive but forbidden. In ordinary life surrender to temptation connotes moral turpitude or, at least, malfeasance, while the resistance to temptation seems to prove virtue or, anyway, a resolute willpower....

In the gospel temptation refers to the original and ingenious assaults of the power of death against human life, and, in James, particularly, to the aggressions of death against those professing fidelity to the event of the Word of God in history - all those, practically speaking, who call themselves Christians.

Temptation and Indulgence

In the context of James, there is a distinction between temptation in its theological significance and temptation in its mundane and moralistic meaning. The former may be, in some circumstances, coincident with moral temptation, but the two are never mere equivalents. Faith does not embrace pietism as a synonym, though a pietistic practice may be, in a given instance, an act of faith. Temptation in its theological sense may take the guise of ordinary moral temptation, but every conventional temptation does not necessarily conceal theological temptation:

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