by Chip Cogan
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
In James chapter one we see that trials of various kinds (vv. 2, 12) and temptations (vv. 13-15) have a way of refining our character and refocusing our faith. It’s often in the midst of these trials—in fact, it’s only in their midst—that a Christian can remain steadfast under trial and therefore be “blessed” (v. 12). It’s only through the process of the “testing of [our] faith” that certain things can be produced in us: steadfastness (v. 2), wisdom (v. 5), and even trust in God’s goodness (vv. 16-18). Some things can only be purified through the fiery forge of adversity. Some muscles only grow stronger through the strain of trials.
It’s easy to trust God when things are good; it takes real and genuine faith—tested faith—to trust God when things are not so good. Just look at Abraham’s test to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22) or Jehoshaphat facing impossible odds in battle (2 Chron. 20). In all of the various trials and temptations that Christians face, it is an old scheme of the devil to not only discourage our hearts but to sow distrust in our good God. This goes way back to the Fall in Genesis 3.
- v1: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” No, God had not actually said that, but you can feel the devil’s contempt and hear the devil’s accusation on God’s character: God is not good. Why would he withhold all these good things from you? You cannot trust him!
- v4: “You will not surely die.” Actually, you will (both physically and spiritually), but you can hear the devil’s implication loud and clear: God is a liar! You cannot trust him!
- v5: “God knows that when you eat of it…you will be like God.” Actually, you won’t gain God’s divinity, but you will lose your full humanity. You can hear the devil’s lies: God is holding out on you! He doesn’t intend to give you what is good and best. You cannot trust him!
James gives us a needed reminder for every hard circumstance: Don’t be deceived. Don’t be led astray; don’t give in to the lie; don’t wander from this truth: you can and should trust in our good God’s unchangingly good character. Eve was right when she declared, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13).
Don’t be deceived during these trying times. The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44), but our good God is the Father of lights (v. 17); there is no darkness in Him (1 John 1:5). Our good God is the source of all light, all truth, all goodness. So while our circumstances are trying and changing, let us, by God’s grace, be unwavering in our trust in God’s good and immutable character, standing firm on his word, and trusting in his promises.