Applying the concept

Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
- from James 1:14-15

Yesterday, we looked at James’ “chain of temptation” from James 1:14-15. Evil desires give birth to sin. Sin gives birth to death. And temptation paves the way.

A man desperately wants to be the center of attention and to be in the “in crowd” with his friends (evil desire). He shares bits of gossip about his other friends and betrays their confidences (sin). As a result, he loses their trust and the intimacy in those friendships (death).

A woman flies into a rage and screams at her husband and children (sin). Why does she do this? She has an uncommunicated expectation that they would anticipate her unspoken needs and cater to her every demand (evil desire). Her anger breeds resentment in her family (death).

A manager gets unceremoniously fired from her position, much to the rejoicing of her subordinates (death). She constantly took credit for all of their accomplishments, refused to pay them fairly, and stripped them of their dignity at every turn (sin). She needed her job and the power that came from her position of authority to give her both identity and purpose (evil desire).

Applying this “chain” takes some intentional work. Here are some things we’ve found:

  • It’s easiest to start with “sin” and work forward and backward (“evil desires” don’t always look evil and “death” isn’t always linked directly with a specific “sin”).
  • “Evil desires” can actually be “good desires” that become “evil” due to their strength, the place they hold in your life, and how they’re expressed.
  • This chain is deeply depressing apart from the hope we have in Jesus’ ongoing work in us to transform and redeem us. Let it help you turn toward Jesus.

Take a moment to join Jesus and wrestle with a sin with which you regularly struggle.

Pick a sin. How will this sin lead to death? What evil desires bring this sin into your life? How is Jesus at work in you to help your resist those evil desires and to protect you from the death sin wants to produce in your life?

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