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Question and Answer

What does James mean when he says, “Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (James 1:14, NASB)?

In James 1:2–12, James discusses the attitude we are to have about trials in our lives. In verses 13 through 18, James is dealing with temptation, also called enticement to sin. He answers the question, “Why can't we blame God for our temptation?” We cannot blame God for our temptations for the following reasons: (1) God cannot be tempted with evil, v. 13; (2) God does not tempt anyone, v. 13; (3) we are the source of our temptations, v. 14; (4) God only sends us good gifts, vv. 16–18.

Verse 14 is dealing with the third reason why we cannot blame God for our temptation: we are the source of our own temptation. James uses a fishing metaphor to get the point across. The words “carried away” and “enticed” are drawn from the world of fishing. Our lust, i.e., our own evil desire, is personified as a fisherman. The image is a fish hiding in safety and protection but lured away by attraction to the bait. Unaware of the danger, the fish is trapped. The Spirit of God uses fishing imagery vividly to remind us that the evil desire of our hearts has a fishing rod or a net, and it is fishing for us! We must take heed and watch our own hearts. When we yield to temptation we have no one to blame but ourselves.

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