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James 1:12-18 Discussion Guide



Note—As you work through the discussion guide, remember that you do not have to answer every question; pick and choose which questions work best for your group discussion.


Introduction:(Leader, this is for your background information. Don’t read it, summarize it.) “The goodness of God means that God is the final standard of good, and that all that God is and does is worthy of approval.” In this definition we find a situation similar to the one we faced in defining God as the true God. Here, “good” can be understood to mean “worthy of approval,” but we have not answered the question, approval by whom? In one sense, we can say that anything that is truly good should be worthy of approval by us. But in a more ultimate sense, we are not free to decide by ourselves what is worthy of approval and what is not. Ultimately, therefore, God’s being and actions are perfectly worthy of his own approval. He is therefore the final standard of good. Jesus implies this when he says, “No one is good but God alone” (Luke 18:19). The Psalms frequently affirm that “the L ORD is good” (Ps. 100:5) or exclaim, “O give thanks to the L ORD , for he is good” (Pss. 106:1; 107:1, et al.). David encourages us, “O taste and see that the L ORD is good!” (Ps. 34:8). But if God is himself good and therefore the ultimate standard of good, then we have a definition of the meaning of “good” that will greatly help us in the study of ethics and aesthetics. What is “good”? “Good” is what God approves. We may ask then, why is what God approves good? We must answer, “Because he approves it.” That is to say, there is no higher standard of goodness than God’s own character and his approval of whatever is consistent with that character. Nonetheless, God has given us some reflection of his own sense of goodness, so that when we evaluate things in the way God created us to evaluate them, we will also approve what God approves and delight in the things in which he delights.Grudem, Wayne A.. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Cómo Entender) (p. 197). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Activity: Consider the “what is good?” loop.  What happens(what has happened) when we put someone other than God in the loop?

Read: James 1:12-18  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.

Question 1:  How is testing different from tempting?

Question 2: Why does testing almost always bring the possibility of temptation?

Question 3: What are some examples of temptations that come from testing? 

Question 4: Is temptation sin?

Read: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Cor. 10:13

Question 5: How is the common saying, “God will not give you more than you can handle” partly true and partly wrong? 

Read: Job 1:22 “Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”

Job 42:5 “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”

Explain: Job had everything taken from him and yet he did not sin by saying God is not just or God.  Eventually Job’s trials wore him down (as did his “friends”) and he began to cast doubt on God’s goodness.  God never explained himself to Job but he did rebuke Job for defending his own goodness at the cost of God’s goodness.  Job repented and made that statement found in Job 42:5

Question 6: Why is Job 42:5 a good summary of growth in spiritual maturity?

Question 7: How does Job 42:5 help explain why trials are part of spiritual maturity?

Read: James 1:16-18 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Explain: God does not tempt, but God is the creator of every good and perfect gift we experience.  “Shifting shadows” is how we experience the varying light patterns here on earth of the every change seasons as we move through the solar system.  God, made the universe.  All created things change, only the uncreated one never changes. James is writing of the unchanging nature of God in order to give confidence that we can always trust him.

Questions 8: As we grow in our faith, how will that help us learn to see as good, all that God sees as good?

Conclude: None of this is easy.  It is enormously difficult.  In fact, it is impossible if God did not empower us for this perspective and this way of life.

*What trial are you currently going through and what is the corresponding temptation in that trial

*Pray together about these things.

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