14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:14-15)
I see a progression of the will in this verse. It’s telling me that our will plays a vital role in the condition of our life and even our very soul and eternal destination. As it says in Genesis 4, sin and temptation will always be there:
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Gen 4:7)
But it’s how we react to the temptation that determines our destiny. Just look at what Cain did in response to the Lord’s attempt to lead him. He decided to kill Abel anyway! I think if we resist sin at the earliest level, we walk toward the light and in the light.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
The verse is talking about the (rather frightening) progression that sin takes you on if you indulge in it repeatedly, without true repentance (turning away in your heart).
Desires, evil desires, are in us always. It is simply a part of our fallen, human nature – the flesh, or sinful nature is what Scripture calls it (referenced in Romans 6:12, Colossians 3:5, 2 Peter 1:4). We can’t resist these on our own (Romans 7:7-25 talks about this struggle common to all of us), but we can with Christ living inside of us, as He does when we’re born again! If we are either unsaved or born again but operating in the flesh (i.e. we are trying to follow Christ in our own strength), we are going to fail (1 Corinthians 1:25). Maybe not immediately, but eventually. We simply do not have the power to overcome evil on our own. Why? Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our fight is not a physical one but a spiritual one, which means that without God involved, we will lose.
So if we give in to those evil desires, they give birth to (produce naturally) sin. This makes sense, of course. But here’s the scary part: sin when full grown produces death. Why? Well, if you follow any sin to its conclusion, it might take a while, but in the end, it really does produce death. You lie, and you become a liar and you lose sight of what truth even is, including the truth that God sent His Son to save you. You cheat and steal, and you may be shot and killed, or maybe you’ll end up in jail for the rest of your life. Same goes for adultery. You might be murdered by a jealous husband. You get the point. Scripture tells us in John 10:10 that:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
In the context of the passage, the thief is an evil, selfish shepherd; but in the larger picture, the thief is Satan. Stealing? I think he mainly wants to steal truth from us, but he also steals our joy, our money, our peace, our loved ones. He’ll steal whatever God will let him steal. Kill? Well, he’d love to kill us all, I think. He hates God, who wants us to live, so of course, the devil wants us dead, especially if we don’t know Christ! Destroy? Well, if he can’t kill us, the next best thing is to destroy everything he can and make us miserable and hopefully he can get us to hate God like he does in the process. Just look at what he did to Job when God gave him the freedom to do so (Job 1).
Some say that those who turn from God never were saved, thus allowing them to believe in “eternal security” (based off of Hebrews 6:4-6). But Hebrews 6:7-8 sums it all up beautifully. If we are land that does not produce fruit for God (doing the work He calls and commands us to do), then we are in grave danger of being burned up, quite literally I am afraid.
Jesus Himself said the exact same thing in John 15:
1″I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5″I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:1-6)
Salvation is a very, very tricky thing, as it comes down to God alone, for He alone can judge a person’s heart. I try to steer clear of that, but there are clear indications in Scripture about what it means to be saved. Read through 1 John. It is a clinic on what it means to be saved and live in Him – (1:6-10, 2:4-6, 2:9-11, 2:15-17, 3:6, 3:10, 3:17-20, 4:7-8, 4:20-21). Once we start giving in to sin, our hearts get harder and harder, and being able to repent becomes more and more difficult. We then deceive ourselves into thinking we are OK, or even that we have repented, when we have done nothing of the sort. Romans 1 talks about God “giving people over” to the lusts of their reprobate minds after a while of rejecting Him. This is a huge danger, obviously. None of us is immune to these kinds of things. It is only by His grace that we have eyes to see the truth and to follow it.
Scripture tells us:
9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. (I Corinthians 5:9-11).
And yet, we are to be like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20), ready to leap up and run to the wayward person when they repent and start toward home.
The suffering that this world can produce can prove quite potent when it is not tempered by the love and mercy of God. Again, reference Job’s experience. And especially here in the United States, most have no clue what true suffering really is. Most in the U.S. are very independent and even rebellious, which are qualities that are, for lack of a better term, antichrist. Coming to God in our need, and receiving from Him what we will die without, requires great brokenness, humility, and trust – three things that do not come easily to many Americans. But, as the Word says:
What is impossible with man is possible with God!!!” (Mark 10:27).