“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
Sinning doesn’t always feel like a big deal in the moment but without God’s intervention it can only take you in one direction…towards death. If you have never surrendered your life to Christ, it takes you towards physical AND spiritual death. If you have taken this step, while it is true you are headed towards a physical death (one of the consequences of the fall), you will rise again receiving an imperishable body. And mercifully, you will never have to experience a permanent spiritual death. Even still, this is not a hall pass for Christians. Our sin surely has consequences. When we pursue rebellion against our Lord and do not come to a place of repentance, we are bringing temporary death to our relationship with God. We can’t damage our position in Christ but we can most certainly damage our fellowship with him. Yes our eternity is secure but choosing sin still brings about an element of death. And that darkness, if left unchecked, can creep in hurting our walk with God as well as our relationships with those around us. Thankfully, if we repent and humble ourselves before God, he will draw near and shine light into our darkness. And he can bring good out of any mess we have made. His mercies are new every day and he is always ready to restore fellowship with his children.
While I am thankful for his new mercies, sometimes at the end of the day, I find myself wondering how I even ended up in such a dark place. Going back to verse 15, the part of the verse that said: “sin when it is fully grown” made me think of the song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns. Here’s an excerpt from the song…
“It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away
It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It’s a slow fade, it’s a slow fade”
Because we have a limited perspective, we don’t always see how our sin is affecting our relationship with God until it is “fully grown” i.e. one day we wake up in a place we never thought we’d be, wondering how on earth we got there. But if you read James 1 verse 14, we can clearly see how people end up in this dark pit. It all starts with our desires. It says,”each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” If you are like me, you might be thinking “Well that’s just great. I can’t control my desires and emotions!” And the world would tell you “No you can’t.” But God’s word tells us, “with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)” While it is true that sometimes we cannot immediately change our desires and feelings, we can start the process of change right now. We can confront any desire that is out of line with God’s word, with God’s word! We do not have to be victims to our desires and emotions…they do not have to control us…through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can control them with our thoughts. Standing upon His strength, we can start changing our desires by taking “every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5)” and by intentionally thinking about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Phillipians 4:8)” It all begins in the mind and what is the best way to transform the mind? Hands down: God’s word. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)”
We live in a culture that will tell you things like
“Trust your heart”
“Do what feels right”
“Do what makes you happy”
Maybe you’ve heard the popular song “Listen to Your Heart” by Roxette
“Listen to your heart when he’s calling for you.
Listen to your heart take a listen there’s nothing else you can do.
I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why,
But listen to your heart before you tell him goodbye.
Listen to your heart
Listen to your heart take a listen to it
Listen to your heart take a listen to it, listen to your heart
Yeah listen to your heart
Listen to your heart”
Friend, this is not the way of the Lord. The Bible tells us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)”
Instead of blindly trusting our desires and feelings, we must hold them up and examine them by the light of God’s truth. If they are found wanting, we need to confront whatever lie we are believing that has led our heart and emotions astray.
Feelings are fickle. Our desires are almost constantly changing. They are not bad in and of themselves but if they are not anchored to something secure, they and consequently WE will be tossed about every which way. This is one of many reasons why it is so key that we build a firm foundation upon God’s word. People and their opinions have come and gone, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. (Isaiah 40:8)” And let us remember that while surely this is talking about the written word of God, our anchor must also be firmly secured in Jesus, the living word of God! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)” Thank you Jesus that your powerful light can completely conquer the darkness! This week, may we seek to build a foundation upon your word, deepen our relationship with you–the living word, confront sinful desires with your truth, and intentionally take every thought captive unto the Lord.