Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man:…
We are tempted, it seems — "drawn" into sin. Who draws us? Not God. He is perfectly holy, and by a necessity of nature does good and not evil. God is for us; who is against us? There is indeed a tempter. The evil spirit has no power at all over any of us, except what we concede to him. As the prince of the power of the air, he could do a soul no harm: it is when he is welcomed within a man's own heart that he ensnares. So then, in the last resort, "every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." From this striking figure we learn some specific features of the sad process. The two terms are literally, "drawn out, and hooked." The first expression does not yet mean drawn by the hook; it means rather drawn to the hook. There are two successive drawings, very diverse in character. The first is a drawing towards the hook, and the second is a dragging by the hook. The first is a secret enticement of the will, and the second is an open and outrageous oppression by a superior force, binding the slave and destroying him. The first process, as applied to hunting and fishing, is well known and easily understood. This part of the process is carried on with care and skill and secrecy. No noise is made, and no danger permitted to meet the eye of the victim. By smell or by sight, the fish or the wild animal is "drawn" from the safe, deep hiding-place in the bush or in the river. The victim, not perceiving the danger, is by its own "lust" — its own appetite — drawn to its doom. The next part of the process is the act of fixing the barbed hook in the victim's jaws. The word is "baited"; that is, enticed by the bait to swallow the hook — the hook that is in the first instance unsuspected. When the hook is fastened, there is another drawing; but oh, how diverse from the first! The angler does not now hide himself, and tread softly, and speak in a whisper. There is no more any gentleness. He rudely drags his helpless prey to shore, and takes its life. I have often seen the same process, with the same difference between its commencement and its conclusion, in the tempting of human souls. The best, the only real preventive against these baited hooks, is to be satisfied with a sweetness in which there are no sin and no danger. The human soul that is empty — that is not satisfied with the peace of God — is easily drawn into the pleasures of sin. In a certain Highland lake, I have been told, sportsmen at one season of the year expect no sport. There are plenty of fishes, but they will not take the bait. Some vegetable growth on the bottom at that period is abundant and suitable as food. I have observed, in the process of fishing, that on the part of the victim there are two successive struggles, both violent, both short, and both, for the most part, unavailing. When first it feels the hook, it makes a vigorous effort to shake itself free. But that effort soon ceases, and the fish sails gently after the retreating hook, as if it were going towards the shore with its own consent. What is the reason of its apparent docility after the first struggle? Ah, poor victim! it soon discovers that to draw against the hook, when the hook is fastened, is very painful. Then, when it feels the shore, and knows instinctively that its doom has come, there is another desperate struggle, and all is over. I think I have observed these two struggles, one at the beginning and one at the end, with the period of silent resignation between them, in the experience of an immortal man. There is an effort to resist the appetite, after the victim discovers that he is in its grasp. But the effort is painful, and is soon abandoned. "I will seek it yet again," is the silent resolution of despair. The struggle, with all the agonies of remorse, may be once more renewed when the waters of life grow shallow, and the soul is grazing the eternal shore. The result? Alas! the darkness covers it; we know it not. After the first drawing, which is soft and unexpected, the way of transgressors is hard. The fish with the hook in its jaws is the chosen glass in which the Scripture invites us to see it. The snare of intemperance is the one in which the victim is tormented, and made a show of openly, in sight of the world.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: