But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. (James 1:14)
Have you had a moment recently when you gave into temptation? A juicy bit of gossip you couldn’t resist passing on. A lustful thought that you let linger. A critical word to a friend about someone you know. A little bit of resentment that you allowed to take root. A little lie to avoid trouble. Despite your best intentions, despite your commitment to try harder, you fell flat on your face in sin. Again.
How did it happen? James tells us that succumbing to temptation is not a random event. It’s not something that just happens out of the blue. There is usually a process or a progression of steps that leads to sin. It starts with “desire”. Like a bait on a hook designed to attract a fish, the progression into sin almost always starts with something in front of us that is attractive to us. The desire itself is not necessarily the problem. It’s what we do with that desire.
James tells us the real problem occurs when we are “drawn away or enticed” by that desire. We are lured or seduced by it. We are deceived. We start to rationalize or justify to ourselves why we must fulfill that desire, even though doing so will be disobedience to God.
And having been deceived by that desire, we then choose to disobey God. James describes it as “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” This is when we act on our desires and do something that is wrong in God’s eyes. This is when we find ourselves lying flat on our face in our sin. Left undealt with, sin ultimately leads to this final step: death. James says, “when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.” Sin always has consequences. It always destroys.
Here’s the good news though. God is greater than our sin. Jesus came to defeat sin in our lives and to make the only way for us to be made right with God. His power far exceeds the powerful temptations we will face. And He promises to always provide a way out for us in those moments of temptation if we turn to Him for help (1 Corinthians 10:13). ...