James 1 v 13 - 15

''Take responsibility!'' declares James. ''Recognise that it is your choice to sin, don't blame God or the devil for what you do wrong!'' There is a huge chasm between what is a trial and what is temptation. Trials come most people's way at some point in their lives and they can be used by God for good, even though it may have been Satan who caused them. Remind yourself by thinking back to the story of Job: he experienced almost complete disaster in his life because the devil had wanted to tempt him to see if he was really the righteous man he made himself out to be. God gave him permission, trusting that Job would get through. It was touch and go at times, but Job came out the other side still trusting in God: ''Yet will I trust Him even though He slay me'' Job declared. However, falling to temptation is completely avoidable (although temptation is a universal experience-even Jesus was tempted) I hear frequently from Christians that Satan had caused them to do something wrong, but the Bible is consistent in telling us that once we are believers we have free choice to do right and wrong. Before we received faith we couldn't help ourselves, but now that we have the Holy Spirit within us we have the inner resources to repel the devil. Later in his letter, James writes: 'Resist the devil and he will flee from you' and you may recall that at the end of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul urges his readers to put on the whole armour of God-using spiritual protection-to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. I was a bit of a tearaway when I was young and I remember being part of a group at Primary school caught playing near the train tracks which passed our school. The headmaster asked us if we had anything to say and we all began to blame each other. As he was telling us that we had detention, he also bemoaned the fact that none of us had owned up and just said ''Sorry'' to him. This is what God requires of us: not a long diatribe about what caused us to do what we did, but a recognition that we have fallen short and repentance before Him.

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