James 1:14
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
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(14) So far the inspired Apostle has spoken of the outward part of temptation; now he lays bare the inner—for we suffer the two-fold evil. From without come the whispers of Satan, by himself or his legionaries, skilled in all that may entice and delude the unwary soul. And if the doctrine be true that to every one a guardian angel is appointed, so also would seem to be the opposite idea, that each has some demon of the pit watching him incessantly, and commissioned specially for his utter destruction. How terrible must be the skill of such assailants, experienced in the arts which have deceived mankind since the first fatal day. But there is the limit of external power in this matter; the ablest and subtlest fiend can but guess what is passing in its victim’s mind, and shape its snares accordingly. God only is the discerner of hearts, and the “spirit of man which is in him” alone, with its Maker, “knoweth the things of a man” (1Corinthians 2:11). The Holy Spirit “searcheth all things” (James 1:10), and all are manifest in His sight (Hebrews 4:13), but to no less than His own omniscience. Satan, therefore, can merely act on his general knowledge of human nature, aided by particular guesses at the individual before him, whom he fain would destroy. He has learned too well the deep corruption of the heart, and knows what gaudy bait will most attract the longing and licentious eyes.

Every man is tempted when he is drawn away of (or, by) his own lust, and enticed.—Evil humanity thrills responsive as a harp played by a cunning hand; but no power of hell can force its way through the barriers which God the Holy Ghost erects around the faithful and confiding soul: only by treason of the man himself can the great enemy enter in and reign.

James 1:14-15. But every man is tempted when — In the beginning of the temptation; he is drawn away of his own lust — Greek, υπο της ιδιας επιθυμιας εξελκομενος; literally, he is drawn out of God, his strong refuge, by his own desire; excited by some external object presenting itself; and enticed Δελεαζομενος, caught with a bait. It is generally supposed that the allusion here is to the drawing of fish out of a river with a baited hook: a metaphor used by Plato, as quoted by Cicero, (De Senect., cap. 13,) “Divine enim Plato, escam malorum appellat voluptatem; quod ea videlicet homines capiantur ut hamo pisces.” Plato divinely calls pleasure a bait of evil things; namely, because by it men are taken as fishes by a hook. With regard to most temptations that draw men into sin, the case seems to be thus: 1st, An outward object presents itself, which appears to be desirable, either on account of the profit or pleasure it seems calculated to afford; 2d, Through an inordinate love of ease, honour, wealth, or pleasure, a desire of that object arises in a man’s corrupt heart; 3d, That desire is yielded to, instead of being resisted, and thereby he is drawn from that line of duty in which he before walked, and from that state of union and communion with God which he enjoyed, and is entangled in the guilt and misery of sin. We are therefore to look for the causes of every sin chiefly in ourselves; in our appetites, passions, and corrupt inclinations. Even the injections of the devil cannot hurt us, till we make them our own, by entertaining and yielding to them. Then, when lust, desire, hath conceived — By obtaining the consent of our will, that is, when it is yielded to; it bringeth forth actual sin — By a speedy birth, where, perhaps, the full indulgence of the desire was not at first intended. It does not follow from this, that the desire itself is not sin. He that begets a man is himself a man; and sin, when it is finished — Actually committed; bringeth forth death — Tends, in its consequences, to the final ruin of both soul and body, as naturally as the conception of an animal does to its birth. Indeed, sin is born big with death. Thus St. James “represents men’s lust as a harlot, which entices their understanding and will into its impure embraces, and from that conjunction conceives sin. And sin, being brought forth and nourished by frequent repetitions, in its turn begets death, which destroys the sinner. This is the true genealogy of sin and death. Lust is the mother of sin, and sin the mother of death; and the sinner the parent of both. James 1:18, the apostle gives the genealogy of righteousness. All the righteous deeds which men perform, and the holy designs and desires, intentions and affections, which are found in them, proceed from their renewed nature; and their nature is renewed by the power of truth and grace; and God is the prime mover in the whole.” — Macknight.1:12-18 It is not every man who suffers, that is blessed; but he who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of duty. Afflictions cannot make us miserable, if it be not our own fault. The tried Christian shall be a crowned one. The crown of life is promised to all who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God, shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above, where love is made perfect. The commands of God, and the dealings of his providence, try men's hearts, and show the dispositions which prevail in them. But nothing sinful in the heart or conduct can be ascribed to God. He is not the author of the dross, though his fiery trial exposes it. Those who lay the blame of sin, either upon their constitution, or upon their condition in the world, or pretend they cannot keep from sinning, wrong God as if he were the author of sin. Afflictions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions. The origin of evil and temptation is in our own hearts. Stop the beginnings of sin, or all the evils that follow must be wholly charged upon us. God has no pleasure in the death of men, as he has no hand in their sin; but both sin and misery are owing to themselves. As the sun is the same in nature and influences, though the earth and clouds, often coming between, make it seem to us to vary, so God is unchangeable, and our changes and shadows are not from any changes or alterations in him. What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; and infinitely more. As every good gift is from God, so particularly our being born again, and all its holy, happy consequences come from him. A true Christian becomes as different a person from what he was before the renewing influences of Divine grace, as if he were formed over again. We should devote all our faculties to God's service, that we may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust - That is, the fountain or source of all temptation is in man himself. It is true that external inducements to sin may be placed before him, but they would have no force if there was not something in himself to which they corresponded, and over which they might have power. There must be some "lust;" some desire; some inclination; something which is unsatisfied now, which is made the foundation of the temptation, and which gives it all its power. If there were no capacity for receiving food, or desire for it, objects placed before us appealing to the appetite could never be made a source of temptation; if there were nothing in the soul which could be regarded as the love of acquisition or possession, gold would furnish no temptation; if there were no sensual propensities, we should be in that quarter above the power of temptation.

In each case, and in every form, the power of the temptation is laid in some propensity of our nature, some desire of that which we do not now possess. The word rendered "lust" in this place (ἐπιθυμίας epithumias), is not employed here in the narrow sense in which it is now commonly used, as denoting libidinousness. It means desire in general; an earnest wish for anything. Notes, Ephesians 4:22. It seems here to be used with reference to the original propensities of our nature - the desires implanted in us, which are a stimulus to employment - as the desire of knowledge, of food, of power, of sensual gratifications; and the idea is, that a man may be drawn along by these beyond the prescribed limits of indulgence, and in the pursuit of objects that are forbidden. He does not stop at the point at which the law requires him to stop, and is therefore guilty of transgression. This is the source of all sin. The original propensity may not be wrong, but may be perfectly harmless - as in the case of the desire of food, etc. Nay, it may furnish a most desirable stimulus to action; for how could the human powers be called forth, if it were not for this? The error, the fault, the sin, is, not restraining the indulgence where we are commanded to do it, either in regard to the objects sought, or in regard to the degree of indulgence.

And enticed - Entrapped, caught; that is, he is seized by this power, and held fast; or he is led along and beguiled, until he falls into sin, as in a snare that springs suddenly upon him.

Επιθυμια Epithumia in the New Testament, is sometimes employed in a good sense, Luke 22:15; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; often in a bad sense, as in Mark 4:19; John 8:44; Romans 1:24; Romans 6:12; Romans 7:7; 1 John 2:16; but there is no difficulty in making the distinction; the context easily determining the matter. And this passage in James seems at once to fix down on επιθυμιας epithumias the sense of evil or corrupt desire. That it can mean a "harmless propensity;" or that it is a propensity on whose character the apostle does not at all pronounce, is incredible. It is said to "draw away a man and entice him;" to "conceive and bring forth sin:" and a principle from which such fruit springs cannot be very harmless. Without doubt, the apostle traces the whole evil of temptation, which some falsely ascribed to God, to the sinful desires of the human heart; and, as our author remarks, he seems to take the common sense view without entertaining any thought of nice philosophical distinction. We cannot for a moment suppose the apostle to say - "the evil is not to be traced to God, but to a harmless propensity."

The whole passage, with the words and figures which are used, show that the idea in the apostle's mind was that of an enticing harlot. The επιθυμια epithumia is personified. She persuades the understanding and will into her impure embrace. The result of this fatal union is the "conception" and ultimate "bringing forth" of actual sin, which again brings forth death. This is the true genealogy of sin (McKnight); and to say that the επιθυμια epithumia, or evil desire, of which the apostle says that it is the "origo mali," is harmless, - is to contradict him, and Paul also, who in a parallel passage says that he had not known the επιθυμια epithumia, or inward desire after forbidden objects, to be sinful, unless the law had enlightened him and said "thou shalt not covet." Mr. Scott has spoken in strong terms of the folly of some parties who understand επιθυμια epithumia. Here only of the desire of sensual gross indulgence, to the exclusion of other sinful desires; but the extreme of interpreting it as meaning nothing sinful at all, deserves equal reprehension. The reader, however, will notice that the author does not venture on this assertion. He says "it may be so," and otherwise modifies his view.)

14. Every man, when tempted, is so through being drawn away of (again here, as in Jas 1:13, the Greek for "of" expresses the actual source, rather than the agent of temptation) his own lust. The cause of sin is in ourselves. Even Satan's suggestions do not endanger us before they are made our own. Each one has his own peculiar (so the Greek) lust, arising from his own temperament and habit. Lust flows from the original birth-sin in man, inherited from Adam.

drawn away—the beginning step in temptation: drawn away from truth and virtue.

enticed—literally, "taken with a bait," as fish are. The further progress: the man allowing himself (as the Greek middle voice implies) to be enticed to evil [Bengel]. "Lust" is here personified as the harlot that allures the man.

He shows the great cause of sin; that lust hath a greater hand in it than either the devil or his instruments, who cannot make us sin without ourselves: they sometimes tempt, and do not prevail; but when lust tempts, it always prevails, either in whole or in part, it being a degree of sin to be our own tempters.

Drawn away; either this notes a degree of sin, the heart’s being drawn off from God; or the way whereby lust brings into sin, viz. the impetuousness and violence of its motions in us.

Of his own lust; original corruption in its whole latitude, though chiefly with respect to the appetitive faculties.

And enticed; either a further degree of sin, enticed by the pleasantness of the object, as represented by our own corruption; or another way of lust’s working in us to sin, viz. by the delightfulness and pleasure of its motions: in the former it works by a kind of force, in this by flattery and deceit. It is either a metaphor taken from a fish enticed by a bait, and drawn after it, or rather from a harlot drawing a young man out of the right way, and alluring him with the bait of pleasure to commit folly with her. But every man is tempted,.... To sin, and he falls in with the temptation, and by it,

when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed; the metaphor is taken either from fishes, who are enticed by the bait, and drawn out by the hook; or from a lascivious woman, who meeting with a young man, entices him, and draws him away after her to commit iniquity with her: by "lust" is meant the principle of corrupt nature, which has its residence in the heart of man; is natural and hereditary to him, and therefore is called his own; he is conceived and shapen in it; he brings it into the world with him, and it continues in him, and is called his own heart's lust, Romans 1:24. Now this meeting with some bait, which entices and draws it out, or with some external object, which promises pleasure or profit, a man is allured, and ensnared, and drawn away by it, and so the temptation begins: thus, for instance, covetousness was the predominant lust in Judas; this meeting with an external object, or objects, which promised him profit, he is at once enticed and drawn away to betray his Lord and master for the sake of it: so sin often promises pleasure, though it is but an imaginary, and a short lived one; which takes with a man's own lust, and corruption within him, and so he is allured and drawn aside; and to this, and not to God, should he attribute temptation to sin.

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
Jam 1:14. That “πειράζεσθαι proceeds not from God,” is the thought of Jam 1:13. Whence comes it then? The answer is given in this verse: “Every man is tempted, when he is drawn out and allured by his own lust.” The words ὑπὸ τῆς ἴδ. ἐπιθυμίας belong not to πειράζεται (Theile, Wiesinger), but to ἐξελκόμενος καὶ δελεαζόμενος (Luther, Baumgarten, Semler, Knapp, Grashof, Hottinger, de Wette, Brückner, Lange, and others), as otherwise these ideas would drag too much, and would receive their closer reference only by supplying something, as ὑπʼ αὐτῆς (Wiesinger). will describe πειράζεσθαι according to its process; he therefore places the idea first, and then gives in what follows how it occurs, consequently the construction πειράζεταιἐξελκόμενος requires not to be altered into πειραζόμενοςἐξελκύεται (Schneckenburger).

πειραζόμενος, as is evident from what goes before, is to be supplied to ἔκαστος; it corresponds to οὐδένα, Jam 1:13. The attribute ἰδίας is emphatic, expressing the contrast to αὐτός in Jam 1:13. It is brought prominently forward because ἐπιθυμία has its ground not in God, but belongs to man.

By ἐπιθυμία is not denoted “innocent sensuousness,” but it occurs here, as everywhere in the N. T. (except where its specific object is named, as in Luke 22:15; Php 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 2:17), even without the addition of κακή, σαρκική, or some similar adjectives, in sensu malo; yet it is not to be understood as original sin: “the sinful tendency, the same as Paul calls ἁμαρτία in Romans 7:7” (Hofmann, Schriftbew. I. p. 469; Wiesinger); rather ἐπιθυμία here is the same as in Romans 7:7, namely, lust for the forbidden action springing from original sin (which Paul designates as the ἁμαρτία which χωρὶς νόμου is “νεκρά,” but by the commandment revives, and πᾶσαν ἐπιθυμίαν κατεργάζεται). So also Brückner.[71]

James does not here speak of the origin and development of sin in general, but he wishes to mention, in contrast to ἀπὸ Θεοῦ πειράζομαι, by what sinful man is tempted to the definite act of sin, so that he had no occasion to refer to original sin.

With regard to the form of expression, Pott correctly says: ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ, ἉΜΑΡΤΊΑ et ΘΆΝΑΤΟς personarum vim habent; imaginem meretricis suppeditant voces ΣΥΛΛΑΒΕῖΝ, ΤΊΚΤΕΙΝ, ἈΠΟΚΎΕΙΝ, nec non et ἘΞΈΛΚΕΙΝ atque ΔΕΛΕΆΖΕΙΝ. The two words ἘΞΈΛΚΕΙΝ and ΔΕΛΕΆΖΕΙΝ sind verba e re venatoria et piscatoria in rem amatoriam et inde in nostrum tropum translata (Schneckenburger); this at least is valid of ΔΕΛΕΆΖΕΙΝ. The meaning: protrahere in littus (Pott, and also de Wette), does not here lie at the root of the idea ἘΞΈΛΚΕΙΝ (ἍΠΑΞ ΛΕΓ. in N. T.), for then it would require to be placed after ΔΕΛΕΆΖΕΙΝ (as also Wieseler, Brückner, and Lange observe); Schulthess more correctly explains it: elicere bestias ex tuto ubi latent in locum hamis retibusque expositum; but it is probable that James had not the original figure so definitely before his eyes. Many interpreters (Menochius, Grotius, Laurentius, Pott, Hottinger, Baumgarten, Theile, and others) supply a bono to ἐξέλκ. and ad malum to δελεάζ., or something similar; yet incorrectly, as the idea is rather that ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ as a harlot entices man, that is, his will, to herself; the ἐξ in ἘΞΈΛΚ. is thus to be explained, that man, enticed by the allurements of ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ, is enticed to forsake his former position (as the place where he remained hitherto concealed); Schneckenburger: statu quasi suo et loco se extrahi et dimoveri ipse patitur. It is incorrect to explain ἘΞΈΛΚΕΙΝ as equivalent to ΠΡΟΣΈΛΚΕΙΝ, or as an intensified form instead of ἝΛΚΕΙΝ.[72] The being taken, captive by ἘΠΙΘΥΜΊΑ is indicated by ΔΕΛΕΑΖΌΜΕΝΟς.[73] δελεάζειν, in the N. T. used here only and in 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 2:14; 2 Peter 2:18, is also among classical writers used figuratively only in sensu malo; comp. particularly, Plato, Tim. lxix. 6: ἡδονὴ μεγίστων κακῶν δέλεαρ; Plut. de ser. Num. Vind.: τὸ γλυκὺ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας ὥσπερ δέλεαρ ἐξέλκειν (ἈΝΘΡΏΠΟΥς).

[71] According to Hofmann’s explanation, the form of expression of James would be diametrically opposed to that of Paul; for what Paul calls ἁμαρτία, would call ἐπιθυμία; and what Paul calls ἐπιθυμία, would call ἁμαρτία! And how objectionable is it to say, with Wiesinger: ἐπιθυμία, when stirred up, produces those ἐπιθυμίας σαρκός in Galatians 5:16; Galatians 5:24, that ἐπιθυμεῖν and that ἐπιθυμία in Romans 7:7-8. It is also incorrect, with Lange, to understand by ἴδια ἐπιθ. “original sin itself in its concrete activity,” or “the folly which the individual encounters externally, over against which the lust belonging to him is objectively placed,” and to determine the same more definitely as the totality of those “glittering, variegated, visionary expectations which seductively met both the Jews and the Jewish Christians, which had sprung from, the matter of the chiliastic, world-lusting, spiritual pride.” James does not here speak of ἑπιθυμία as attacking an individual from outside, but only of that which is within him.

[72] See Athenaeus, i. 3, c. 8: διὰ τὴν ὁμιλίαν τοὺς ἐραστὰς προσελκυσασθαι. Ael. N. An. vi. 31: ὑπὸ τῆς ἡδονῆς ἑλκόμενος.

[73] Lange: “To draw off and to allure—German: Ablocken and Anlocken; the man is first drawn out from his inward self-control and fortress, and then attracted (drawn to) by the allurements of the harlot.”Jam 1:14. ἕκαστος δὲ πειράζεται ὑπὸ τῆς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας: according to this the evil originates in man himself, which would be the case more especially with the sin of lust; with regard to temptation to sin of another character see 1 Thessalonians 3:5, … μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειράζων, who is doubtlessly to be identified with Satan.—ἐξελκόμενος καὶ δελεαζόμενος: describes the method of the working of ἐπιθυμία, the first effect of which is “to draw the man out of his original repose, the second to allure him to a definite bait” (Mayor). ἐξελκ. is in its original meaning used of fishing, δελεαζ. of hunting, and then of the wiles of the harlot; both the participles might be transferred, from their literal use in application to hunting or fishing, to a metaphorical use of alluring to sensual sin, and thus desire entices the man from his self-restraint as with the wiles of a harlot, a metaphor maintained by the words which follow, ‘conceived,’ ‘beareth,’ ‘bringeth forth’; cf. 2 Peter 2:14; 2 Peter 2:18, where the same verb is found, and Philo, Quod omn. prob lib., 22, ‘driven by passion or enticed by pleasure’ ” (Knowling).14. when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed] Both the participles are primarily used of the way in which animals are taken, the first of capture by the hook or noose, as with fish or the crocodile (Herod. 11. 70), the second of beasts or birds which are attracted by food set for them as a bait. Both words had come to be used figuratively of sensual passion, the latter twice by St Peter (2 Peter 2:14; 2 Peter 2:18), and the imagery that follows here suggests the thought that St James had the picture of the harlot of Proverbs 7:6-23 present to his thoughts. There the “young man void of understanding” yields to her allurements as “a bird hasteth to the snare.” “Lust,” or rather, desire, in its widest sense, including desire for safety, riches, ease, as well as sensual pleasure, is to man’s will as the harlot-temptress of that picture. The temptations of which the earlier verses of the Chapter had spoken are thus, though no longer prominent, not excluded. Adversity and persecution expose men to the evil solicitations of their lower nature, to love of ease and safety, no less than luxury and prosperity. In both “desire” tempts the will to depart from what it knows to be the will of God.Jam 1:14. Ἕκαστος, every man) Antithetical to οὐδένα, “no man,” Jam 1:13.—ὑπὸ, by) Lust is, as it were, the harlot; human nature, the man.—ἰδίας, his own) We ought therefore to seek the cause of sin in ourselves, and not without us. Even the suggestions of the devil do not occasion danger, before they are made our own (ἴδια). Every one has his own peculiar lust, arising from his own peculiar disposition, habit, and temperament.—ἐξελκόμενος, drawn away) in the beginning of the temptation, which draws him away from truth and virtue. A passive participle.—δελεαζόμενος, enticed) in its further progress, admitting the allurement to evil (allowing himself to be enticed). A middle participle.Verse 14 states the true origin of temptation. While the occasion might be of God "in the order of his providence and of our spiritual training," the inclination is not of him. Compare with this verse the description of the harlot in Proverbs 7:6-27. Here lust is personified, and represented as a seducing harlot, to whose embraces man yields, and the result is the birth of sin, which in its turn gives birth to death. Drawn away (ἐξελκόμενος)

Only here in New Testament. This and the following word are metaphors from hunting and fishing. Drawn away, as beasts are enticed from a safecovert into a place beset with snares. Note the present participle, as indicating the progress of the temptation: "is being drawn away."

Enticed (δελεαζόμενος)

As a fish with bait. Also the present participle. See on 2 Peter 2:14.

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