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. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
(James 1:13-18 ESV)
When I was a child, I had a hard time owning up to my “mistakes” in life. The culture I dwelt in, and later (when I had the decision to choose) fought for, was one of seeking comfort and pleasure. My life was not exactly perfect and I fought to feel good about myself at every turn.
I made decisions based on my desires and dreams. This was the mantra of my life, and for those in my circle. I fought for these things. I longed for them. They ruled me.
Even in the early years of my marriage, with my earthly and heavenly husband, my desires ruled me. I wanted a knight in shining armour to feed me grapes while fanning my ever growing carcass.
I liked me. Too much. I liked getting my way. As I write this, I need to be honest, because… I still do.
But God has done a good work in me. This, I look back and see and I truly believe. Only by God’s grace am I different.
I hate sin. I really do. I’ve felt the weight of remorse for the things I have done that I see clearly in God’s Word as wrong. You know swearing, drinking, modesty, sexual things… that list can go on.
I must admit, just like the Pharisee’s, I have been like a white-washed tomb.
As Jerry Bridges would call them, the respectable sins of my life were flourishing and my conscience had been hardened enough to stop warning me of these destructive things.
God was kind to show me these things at times in my life and I really didn’t deal with them. Instead my focus turned to other people sinning in this way.
Anger for example. Yes – it’s a sin (Matthew 5:21-26).
I saw the destructive pattern of anger that too many in my life were caught in. And my response…
(Warning… the irony about to come may produce weird laughter…)
I got angry at other people getting angry. But I didn’t think I was sinning. I justified it.
Did you laugh? Do you do this too? Do you know this too well? I do.
Boy… that was hard to write.
I was angry at God. I was angry He didn’t change that person yet.
This made me tired. I have often dipped my toes in the pool of despair.
I was the swaying, double-minded person that James just finished talking about in vs. 8.
I don’t know if I ever really had the thought that God was tempting me, but I was sure acting like it. My pattern was to blame God for my anger and frustration with sin in my life. (SIGH)
Again… my favourite turning phrase 🙂
BUT GOD… rich in mercy… saw fit to open my eyes through the preaching of His Word and show me the doctrine of sin through the book of James.
14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
(James 1:14-15 ESV)
By my own desires huh?!
I had trusted that my desires were good – forgetting that I am depraved.
I have fallen short of the glory of God. I am not good. My desires are not good. My fleshy desires that is. I do believe that God has given me good desires too.
This was a little confusing to begin with, because God in His kindness had begun to renew my desires, and my mind. So there was a bit of a war going on inside of me.
Understanding how sin works is a beautiful gift.
I’ve been taught that lured and enticed (vs. 14) are words that are used with fishing. Like my favourite 5 of diamonds hook is enticing and lures the fish (which in my part of the world works nearly every time!), my desires of the flesh entice and lure me toward sin.
My favourite Bible Teacher took me to Genesis 3 and showed me, in a deeper way, what this looks like.
This account is what happened during the first sin:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
(Genesis 3:6 ESV)
Eve at first:
-GAVE (consequence of her sin)
And to further illustrate she took me to 2 Samuel 11. David saw Bethsheba. He desired her. He then took her and the consequences for this then follow in the remains of the chapter.
This makes sense. Most things that I want, I first have to see them.
But then I thought, I don’t really have troubles with the things I see. This is partly true, and I am partly deceiving myself with this statement. I have learned to turn my eyes from the things that I know “entice” me, but the thing that I have always struggled with is in my “mind’s eye”. My imagination.
Thinking back to my frustration and anger with sin (which is sin), I began to pick apart what that looked like. Someone would get angry, do something dumb, and I might have even been able to gently respond in the moment, but it was the after effect that got me. My imagination. My lack of guarding my heart.
I’d walk away from that person and instead of thanking God for His grace in my life, I would think about how that person could have possibly done what he/she did against God, and hurt me. My mind would run and run and so would my anger.
My thoughts and imagination are not ruled by Christ. My “self-talk” and picture of what life should be like in a easy and comfortable world (what I pictured Heaven like) was my lure and my enticement. My desire.
Yes, it is a good desire to be free of sin, but this is something that is truly unattainable in this life and for me it did not come with the acknowledgement of God’s good gifts. I was demanding – desire at idolatry level – that God grant repentance in those around me so that my comfort and rest would resume to what I like.
I have often said: “I want my Christmas presents, now, not at Christmas time.”
Instead of looking for God’s good gift of grace in that individual while guarding my heart and mind from that desire, I yelled and screamed and demanded that that person and God bend to my ways – NOW.
Thank God for His Word and the understanding of how sin works. Thank God for the command to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and for the ability to guard my heart – from myself. Thank God for prayer – private and corporate- and the gift of meditation on His Word. And most of all, thank God for the gift of repentance.
I am a sinner in desperate need of a gracious Saviour.
This article is titled “What seat do you sit in?” That’s my question to you my friend. Do you see your sin? What are your desires? Do you fight God to sit in His seat and get your way? Or do you sit, uncomfortably if needed, in the chief of sinner’s seat; in desperate need of a gracious Saviour?
This, I believe, is the first part of fighting sin. Knowing your place in this world. From that seat, you are then positioned to trust Christ and watch, wait, and walk out His good gifts in your life and those around you.
My friend… Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (vs. 18) He loves us. Take your seat and rest that He is in His, extending you grace.
Oh what marvelous grace.