(Vs. 13.) The great objective of the preceding verses is to comfort and instruct believers who are subjected to heavy trials. These trials are from our Father and for our good. They reveal and strengthen faith. They produce patience, wean us from the vanities of the world and make us useful servants in all areas. There is also an element of temptation in every trial to complain, to doubt the love of God, to turn back or to give way to self-pity. But in verse 13 the apostle uses the word "tempted" in another sense. Here he speaks of inward temptations which are the fleshly desires that entice us to sin. God is not the author of these. They flow from the corruption of our nature. Let no man be so blasphemous as to ascribe any of his sinful inclinations to God. God is pure and holy, not subject to or tempted by anything evil; neither does he ever tempt anyone to sin.
(Vs. 14.) Every man who sins against God does so because he is tempted, enticed and caught in the snare of "his own inward lust". The word "lust" means the principle or root of our corrupt nature, which has its dwelling in our hearts. We were born with it (brought it into the world), it continues with us and we can call it all our own! (Ps. 51:5; 58:3; Rom. 7:18, 21; Gal. 5:17.) For anything good or holy that we think or do, we can give God the glory! Anything evil can be attributed to ourselves and our sinful natures, not to God!
(Vs. 15.) There arises in our hearts thoughts of pride, sinful pleasure, covetousness and vengeance, which are agreeable to our corrupt nature. Instead of resisting these thoughts and rejecting the deeds, we cherish them, play with them and contrive ways to bring them about. After consenting to them, we perform them, and the consequence is judgement! Every sin is deserving of death; death is the just wages of sin! Man is the author of his own destruction (Rom. 5:12, 18, 19). We praise God for his mercy, grace and forgiveness in Christ (Rom. 8:1, 33, 34).
(Vs. 16.) Do not err in this regard: God is not the author of our sin, nor may we charge him with being involved in our temptation to sin. This is a very great error, for it strikes at the very nature of God. Our sins all have their beginning, continuation and results in our own natures ("I saw... I coveted... I took", Josh. 7:21).
(Vs. 17.) This verse must he taken in connection with what has gone before. When James mentions "every good gift", it is in opposition to the evil in and from us, of which he says God is not the cause (Matt. 7:11). Whether of nature, providence or grace, every good gift (called "perfect gift" because it has no mixture of evil whatever) is from our Lord! Again let us take the full blame for all evil and ascribe to God all glory for every good thing!
He is the "Father of lights". Light in the Scriptures means especially two things: the light of truth and the light of holiness. God is the origin, source and giver of these! From him descends every good, useful and necessary gift. With him there is never a shadow, shade or appearance of change. In him there is no darkness, no change, no inconsistency. He never varies in his dealings with men (Heb. 13:8). He is the author of all good and no evil. We should abhor whatever comes to our minds, or is suggested by others, which is not compatible with his holy praise. Also, in this regard, we are pressed to depend upon and declare unreservedly the grace of God to sinners in Christ. Outside of Christ we have no hope! (Rom. 7:24, 25.)
(Vs. 18.) This is brought forth as the highest example of the preceding verse. All spiritual life and light originates with God.
"Of his own will begat he us." Our election to salvation, our adoption as sons and heirs of God, was not in consideration of our works, deeds or faith, or because of foreseen merit. It is according to his own free choice. We were chosen, loved, adopted and enrolled before we were born (Rom. 9:11.16).
"With the word of truth." The will of God is the reason, the Spirit of God is the agent and the Word is the instrument or seed of regeneration (1 Peter 1:23). "First-fruits of his creatures." Those who are redeemed from among men are the first-fruits unto God. They are separated "holy unto the Lord" and distinguished from others as the first-fruits of harvest were. They are preferred and more excellent than all, being made so by the grace of God (1 Cor. 4:7).