v. 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.
v. 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;
v. 14. but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed.
v. 15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Having spoken of temptations in the very beginning, v. 2, the apostle now explains the term as he wants it understood: Blessed is the man that endures temptation; for, having stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those that love Him. In v. 2 the apostle had said that the Christians should look upon their engaging temptations that might beset them with joy, since it gave them the opportunity to try their mettle. Here he emphasizes the blessedness of every believer that is tried out in that manner, by withstanding temptations and enduring afflictions. For every an that stands the test in faith, that remains true to the Lord to the end, will receive the reward of mercy, the crown of life, Rev_2:10. This wonderful gift of His grace the Lord has promised to all those that show their faith by their constant love toward Him. Thus not only the test of the temptation in itself, but also the merciful reward which is held out before us, should serve to encourage us in persevering in faith in spite of all temptations.
But we must not make a mistake as to the apostle's meaning when he refers to temptations: Let no man, being tempted, say, I am tempted of God; for God is untemptable of evil, and He tempts no one. The apostle is speaking of such temptations as assail the Christians by reason of their own flesh and on the part of the enemies in the world and Satan. No man may offer the excuse that he, in giving way to wrong, is doing so at the instigation of God. This evasion is used to this day by people that refer to their temper, or to their propensity for the one or the other sin as something which they cannot help, for which they cannot be held responsible. Such persons should remember a double truth: in the first place, that God is incapable of being tempted by evil, and, secondly, that He will under no circumstances tempt men to evil. He is in no sense the author of sin and can in no way be held responsible for its existence, for He is the essence of holiness and purity.
The matter, in truth, must always be represented thus: But every one is tempted, being allured and deceived by his own lust. Then lust, having conceived, bears sin, but sin, being brought to maturity, brings forth death. This agrees with the words of the Savior: Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, Mat_15:19. The carnal part of man, his evil nature, the tendency and desire for all that is wrong which he has inherited from his parents, is continually beguiling, alluring, enticing, deceiving him, trying to lead also the Christians into various sins against all the commandments of the Lord. If this lustful condition of the heart succeeds in making an impression on the mind, in overcoming any objections which the new man or conscience may have to offer, then it will break forth in actual sins. And if this sin is not hindered in time, if it is not overcome and suppressed, if it takes possession of the body with all its members, and works its own will in the person concerned, and thus reaches its full maturity, then the end will be death, eternal death, unless such a sinner returns to the Lord in true repentance. Note that the picture of alluring to sensual sin, of attracting as with the wiles of a harlot, is maintained throughout, in order to show the insidious nastiness of sin.