16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. ~ James 1:16-18
James 1 is primarily about the purpose of our trials and our temptations. Trials and temptations are the common experience of every human being. God uses trials to strengthen our faith. Trials, if we respond to them correctly, prove God's goodness and faithfulness towards us. Satan tries to use trials and temptations to detour us away from God. Our battles with trials and temptations prove the genuineness of our faith in the God of the Bible.
Trials turn into temptations when we do not handle the trials correctly, when we do not turn to God for His help during the trials. Trials usher us into the context where temptation tries to take us further away from God. How we respond to temptation also determines how well the process of our sanctification goes. We will either move forward in our obedience to God and His word or we will shrink back resulting in ineffectiveness at being used of God in the lives of others.
In v.16-17 of today's text we read, "16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
All mankind at one point or another has blamed God for our sin. But, no one can blame God for sin because every good and perfect gift is from Him. Everything we need to be satisfied in this life God provides. How foolish, then, it is when we turn away from His goodness and we grab the luring bait of sin. Satan convinced Eve that God was not good, resulting in her downfall into deception. Eve bought the lie and history reveals the lack of wisdom that was in her decision.
As indicated here in v.17, the God of the Bible is the father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He, as Creator, created all of the heavens, but He’s not like them. They change. They dim. They brighten. They are here in the daytime and gone at night. Their benefit to us comes and goes. But, God isn’t like that. God’s brilliant bright light of glory and grace abides. His streams of mercy never cease, nothing can eclipse God's goodness.
In v.18 of today's passage we read, "He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created."
Since God created us in His image and He has recreated us through His Son, we can depend on Him. God made a conscious decision to give us birth through the word of truth. In 1 Peter 1:23 we learn we "have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God."
We are reborn by the Holy Spirit in order to share in Christ's resurrected life through the word of God. The spiritual transfer from death to life that we have experienced, happens through the word of God. Then, in 1 Peter 1:25 we read, "This word is the good news that was preached to you." In other words, the word through which we are born again is the gospel or the good news that was preached to us.
Here in v.18 of today's text, James reminds us we are the "firstfruits" of all of God's creation. This means we are His own precious possession through the redemption that is in Christ. James uses the topic of regeneration to show us that God doesn’t lead us into sin, He leads us to be creations of a new kind, like Him. He leads us out of sin into new life. God is recreating us away from sin, not into sin.
James is a book written to help us take our faith in the God of the Bible to a higher level. In today's passage, James establishes the idea that God doesn't tempt us because He is good and He has made us alive to Himself through the Gospel, the good news about the Lord Jesus Christ. He has done all of this that we might grow in His wisdom which will always lead us to the place where we conclude, "More of Him and less of me." When we get to this point, we are realizing the point of our sanctification: Being a blessing to others in such a way that they not only come to faith in Him, that they themselves become a blessing to others.