The Pull of Sinful Temptation – James Lesson 8

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:14

Verses 14 and 15 present the downward and wayward cycle of sin. You cannot get more practical than this. James does not spend time pontificating about different types of sin and different consequences. He simply nails the subject shut with simple and concise truth. The language is universal, and the concepts are absolute. When James says “every man” he means every man, woman, boy, and girl. He describes how the cycle of sin works for every single human being on earth. The universality of these two verses cannot be ignored. Temptation works no other way.

“Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away …”

One must ask, “drawn away,” from what? Drawn away from innocence; drawn away from a position that is not at odds with God’s will. Temptation is all about drawing men away from serving God, from pleasing God, from doing the right thing, from being responsible. And what is the rope that is used to pull or draw men away?

“… drawn away of his own lust …”

Temptation has hold of a rope. The rope is fastened to a human on the sunny side of God’s pleasure. Temptation pulls relentlessly on the rope to pull people away from serving God. What is the rope? It is man’s own lust or strong desire. It is the desire to be popular, liked, admired, and esteemed. It is the desire to pamper the flesh, live the easy life, have it made in the shade, not to struggle, and be secure. It is the desire to feel good, to have pleasure, to enjoy, and to scratch the itch. Inside of each of us there is a set of strong desires or lusts. We want to feel good, for others to like us or at least fear us, and for life to not involve hardship. These desires are at the root of every type of sin known to humanity. They make people steal, lie, cheat, commit adultery, abuse drugs, and all manner of sin. When men begin to yield to the external stimuli of temptation pulling hard on those desires, the first step in the downward spiral is called enticement.

“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” James 1:14

Those who are enticed are beginning to be worn down by the pull of temptation on the rope of their strong desires. Enticement is when one begins to explore the possibilities of sin mentally. They begin to think about what it would be like, how they could get away with it, how they could justify it to themselves or others, etc.

The Result of Yielding to Temptation

“Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” James 1:15

Notice how James uses the cycle of reproduction to illustrate the cycle of sin. Temptation is an outside force that impregnates man. The seed of sin is planted in the human will. The impregnation happens due to two forces – temptation and man’s desires. Man’s lust conceives when it is not only enticed but when it embraces and receives the sinful stimuli.

When lust conceives, it brings forth sin, and the ultimate issue of sin is death. The reproductive cycle of sin is temptation, enticement, conception, the birth of sin, and death. This is how sin spreads from person to person, from family to family, and from community to community. It reproduces.

Seldom does one person go into sin alone. Their lust conceives and gives birth to rebellion. And their rebellion becomes a temptation to others to join them. Others desire the freedom that this one in sin seems to enjoy. The lure of the “good life” begins to pull on the rope of their desire to pamper self and experience soft living. And the beat goes on.

Where should we attack the temptation that is hurled at us? We should have a two-pronged approach. We should seek to minimize negative stimuli. We should discipline the flesh to minimize the power of carnal desires. Shrink what the rope is tied to and cut the rope off!

What if folks could see the ultimate issue of sin before they began to experience enticement? What if the young person about to light up could see the Marlboro man with a tracheotomy from throat cancer, gasping for air? What if the fornicator and those who enjoy casual sex could see the disease ravaged body of the AIDS sufferer just before succumbing to the disease? What if the binge drinker could see the pain and heartache of living with the knowledge that he ran over and killed an innocent child in an auto accident while under the influence?

“Sin when it is finished bringeth forth death.”

The final issue of sin is always death. The tempter never shows you that, but God does. Consider before you allow your own strong desires to draw you away from God’s will. Consider before you begin to give in to the enticement that sin offers. Once lust conceives the reproductive cycle cannot be stopped.

Conclusion

James does not offer a creed to address the problem of temptation. He gives us sound doctrine about an issue that every believer must face and overcome. There is a reward for those who endure temptation. It is a crown of life. For those who succumb to the lure of temptation, the ultimate outcome is death.

Overcoming the draw of temptation requires understanding the cycle. Just as human reproduction requires two participants, for lust to conceive requires participation on man’s part. We should have a two-pronged approach. We should seek to minimize negative stimuli. We should discipline the flesh to minimize the power of carnal desires. Failure to recognize the depraved nature that is part of all humans eliminates the knowledge needed to develop and implement a defensive strategy.

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