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.
The Sin Itself
If Temptation = Desire + Opportunity, then Sin = Desire + Opportunity + Action. I know, I know, this isn’t a math lesson and some of you just had a really awkward flashback to Algebra I, but stay with me. As we noted earlier, temptation isn’t in and of itself a sin. It happens. It is is born out of the desires of our flesh, the sinful ones that call on us to indulge in self-serving indulgence instead of trusting the Lord for our provision.
In this particular text, there is an admonition to count every situation and circumstance as joy in the midst of trial. This is a very hard thing to do. In the pit of the valley our flesh cries out for relief. Sometimes all we want is for it to stop, to return to normal, or be relieved, when what we really should be doing is simply trusting. Often in the darkest of times His still small voice gently whispers, “Trust Me.”
This desire for self-sufficiency and self-reliance betrays us when the opportunity presents itself. Instead of resting, we worry. Instead of being grateful, we complain. Instead of loving, we hate.
It’s easy to give into our desires. The hard part is to stand firm in the opportunity, look our desire in the face and deny it. I know some of you right now are saying, “but what if God wants to end the trial, or grant the desire.” In that case, it isn’t our own desire of which we are speaking, it would be His desire. This passage is dealing with our own desires, those desires that go counter to what God wants for us. To stand in the face of ourselves, deny ourselves, and move forward is no easy task.
He knows this. That’s why He gives us the Holy Spirit to empower us to obey. This is why He puts us in trials of life, in the crucible, to melt away our trust in self and transform us into a pure reflection of His image. This is where we go wrong.
When opportunity presents itself, opportunity to fulfill our sinful, selfish desires, and we act on it, then we have sinned. This action can be outward physical action, indulgence, thoughts, or attitudes of the heart such as bitterness and hate.
We are presented opportunities all the time to indulge these fleshly desires and take the opportunity to act and thus to sin. Our call before the Lord is to die to ourselves, deny those desires, to take up our cross and follow Him in holiness and obedience.