By Randy Dillon
Isaiah 45:7 "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things."
James 1:12-15 "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. Let no man say when he is tempted,
I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it
bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
***** Temptation to sin is too often as frequent an occurrence in mankind as breathing itself. The world offers its tempting wares in every conceivable fashion to the human mind. Mankind responds in their sinful nature to the beckoning call of sin with its promise of satisfaction at little or no cost. Yet, when faced with the consequences of sin, the most normal response of the sinner is to cast blame upon someone else or something else. Too many times the blame is wrongly attributed to God.
James, in his epistle, presents a brief but direct response to blaming God for the temptation to sin. James, at the start of his short examination of temptation, seems to admit that all men will be tempted to sin. This includes Christians and the writer appears to address his comments to Christians in particular, but also in a general sense to all people. There is a blessing for the Christian who endures temptation; that is, to someone who is tempted but prevails over that temptation. When he is "tried" or proved successful in overcoming temptation he will receive the crown of life, life eternal. James then turns to the issue of blame. Knowing the proclivity of humans to blame God for all of their faults, he begins by certifying to believers that God does not tempt people to do evil, nor is He himself tempted to do evil. Several commentators note that the Greek word for evil, as we use it today, is an appropriate translation of the Hebrew word "rasha" has the meaning of real "wickedness.” This word directly implies a moral failure in a relationship. However, another Hebrew word, "ra'ah" is also translated as evil in the Greek. This word means "calamity, disaster, misfortune or hardship." This word has no moral implication. It simply implies that an event may bring injury, hurt or inconvenience in our lives but without a moral sense of right or wrong. As one commentator has written: "Moral evil and natural evil are not the same. Moral evil is a conscious moral act of a volitional being while natural evil as just the evil consequences of moral will." God is always good not evil (see Mark 10:18, Psalm 111:17, I John 1:5, Isaiah 5:20.)
When scripture says God creates evil, as in Isaiah 45:7, it is not "rasha" (moral wickedness) but rather "ra-ah" (natural events) which are the result of the moral failures of mankind. Temptation comes to man when the mind and heart seek that which is not of God. Those worldly desires lead to enticement to behave wickedly. Lust leads to sin and sin leads ultimately to death, both physically and spiritually. Thus, temptation must be blamed on the individual who is misled by his own lust, but never on God. Lest we forget, sinful man is "drawn away" by the tempter, Satan himself, who appeals to the sinful nature of ma. It is then that sinful temptation aligns with the inherent sinful nature of man to produce evil behavior in the sight of God. However, God does allow or "create" or use the consequences of moral evil to result in natural evil as a punishment for mans' sinful disobedience. It may therefore be said that mans' "rasha" or wickedness results in God's creation of "ra-ah" or calamities which may indeed be "evil" from mans' perspective, even though they are the natural fruit of man's surrender to sin.