Why God Cannot Be Tempted by Evil

James 1:13 —

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

Jonathan Edwards’ lecture on James 1:13 (April 1733) —

It’s impossible [that God be tempted to sin] because it’s impossible that God should be in want of anything or be capable of having his happiness added, he that has already an all-fullness in himself, and is infinitely happy. It’s impossible that he should desire to be more happy. For there is no such thing as more happy than infinitely happy. There can be no addition to that which is infinite, that which cannot be exceeded.

But if it be impossible that God should desire to be more happy, then it’s impossible for him to be tempted with a view to his own interest, for that is to suppose that he has a view to an addition to his own happiness, when at the same time he desires no addition, nor is capable of it.

Men are liable to temptation because they have an inward craving of happiness. They are tempted by some object to allure that craving. But he that is self-sufficient is not liable to any such temptation nor capable of it. It’s impossible that he should have any such prospect.

Men are tempted to do evil from a view at some profit or pleasure. A view at being in some way added to by it. But it’s impossible that he that is infinitely happy and blessed should have any such temptation to do any evil or unrighteous thing.

But then if it be inquired how it appears that God hath such a fullness in himself that he can’t be added to, the answer appears by this: that he cannot receive any addition from any other because all others have all from him. It appears God has all fullness in himself because the whole creation have all from him. He is the fountain of the good that is received and enjoyed in the whole creation. Every creature has all that he has from God. . . .

Therefore it is evident that God can receive no addition from or by the creature, or by anything in the creation. If the creation be happy, that makes no addition to God. And if the creature be miserable, that makes no addition to God. Therefore God cannot be under temptation to wrong creatures or to do unjustly by them from any expectation of getting anything by them.

[Editing note: All contracted ’tis-es changed to it’s-es.]

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