Desire, Temptation, & Death
"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” (James 1:14-15). The path of temptation is well-trodden. The wake of death sin leaves behind is full of personal devastation and relational trauma. No matter the sin, the process and resulting death remain constant. James is clear the source of temptation lies within the desire of the heart.
While we are responsible for our actions, the enemy knows how to exploit our vulnerabilities. Though the Lord did not give in, Christ was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). In the same way, Adam and Eve were visited by Satan, the tempting serpent. Unlike the Savior (Hebrews 2:18) they did succumb to the lure of desire. In an instant, their actions of rebellion turned their hearts from the euphoria of enticement to shame (Genesis 3:1-7).
How is it at one moment the children of God can be at peace within the fellowship of the Lord and the next, enticed by ungodly desire? Like Adam and Eve, the lure of desire can overwhelm the heart of love for the Lord. The apostle Paul list for us the acts of the sinful nature: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21). Due to life experience, family of origin, and the selfishness of the sinful nature, men and women are all enticed by sin. Fortunately, through the account of the fall, the Bible shows us the precursors to all temptation and sin.
The fundamental starting point that leads to sin is a lack of delight in the living Word of God. Listen to Satan’s words to Eve, “Did God actually say you may not eat from any tree in the garden” (Genesis 3:1). This was a gross misrepresentation of what the Lord actually said. God had told Adam, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). The root of the rebellion against the Lord was a distancing of the heart from his Word. This can take many forms from ignoring his Word, choosing not to read, or twisting the words of Scripture to support the sin we are being enticed to embrace. Remember the words of David, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11).
The next step leading toward the clutches of sin is questioning the character of the Lord. Once Eve recounted to the enemy the words of the Lord, his response was, “You will not surely die…God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Sadly, as our hearts are enticed by the lure of desire our vision of God can become blurred as we turn away from him. Through our attention and actions we are questioning the goodness and holiness of the Lord. Essentially we are rationalizing sinful desire: “Does God really care about this attitude or action/does it matter?” and “surely God wants me to be happy?”
Once Eve and Adam dismissed the Word of God, unbelief set in. They questioned the righteous character of God. the Bible says, “…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…” (Genesis 3:6). In this moment we are able to view the enticement of desire. Once Eve crossed this line of ungodly enchantment in her heart, desire had given birth to sin. Tragically, after both of them disobeyed the Lord, they were banished from the paradise of the garden.
The good news of Jesus Christ is though all of us have sinned and have been stricken with spiritual death, Jesus paid the penalty for our sin on the cross and rose from the dead, revealing his victory over sin and death. As we nuture our faith in Christ through his Word every day and recount the goodness of his gospel, we have the opportunity for our delight in God to overcome ungodly desire. Rather than living a life of defeat and death, we can experience the abundant life of walking in the light of the Savior.