Continuing with our Algebra lesson, let us review:
Temptation = Desire + Opportunity
Sin = Desire + Opportunity + Action
It then follows:
Desire + Opportunity + Action - Forgiveness/Repentance = Death
The imagery in this passage (James 1:14-15) and others regarding the process of sin is simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. Let’s look at two passages which deal with the severe cost of sin James 15 and Romans 6:23.
In James, we have a picture of a birth. Strikingly, the thought of a birth is almost always a joyous occasion. We envision the plump little bundles, the small whimpers and cries as the baby nuzzles close to its mother and finds comfort. The picture in James is vastly different. Roy Zuck calls sin a “grotesque child.” Stark contrast to our thoughts of a precious baby. It is born of an unholy union between an unmentioned father and our desires, or lusts: lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. This unmentionable father of death is most certainly the devil himself, metaphorically speaking of course.
Satan is the father of lies, a tempter to evil, and a perverter of truth who loves nothing more than feed on our lustful desires, arrange for opportunities to tempt us to action, then capitalize on our fleshly weakness as we plunge headlong into his traps. This unholy union breeds the grotesque offspring of sin, which in turn, matures and produces its own child, death.
As Zuck relates, unchecked lust and desire bring sin, unconfessed sin (hence the subtraction of repentance in the formula) yields death. Romans 6:23 backs up his claims and reminds us the wages of sin is death. Another interesting metaphor for this twisted child of desire.
Wages are given for something earned, something sought after. I have never known anyone paid for a job they didn’t do or hired for a position they didn’t seek. In a very real sense, the wages paid for sin are given to us for that which we have chosen. The resulting spiritual and physical death are ours to own and ours to avoid.
I firmly believe if we really understood the eternal and temporal wages of mature sin, we would be much more inclined to strive for holiness. It is popular in our church culture to draw in the crowds and pacify the hearer with thoughts of lesser degrees of condemnation which follows sin and fail to warn each other of the vicious and awful payment exacted on unrepentant sin. It will destroy us. It’s penalty is death, and it doesn’t happen to us all at once. It is a process.
So what are we to do about this burden under which we were conceived in our broken flesh? How do we avoid such terrible destruction? Our next installment will explore the depths of dealing with this destructive cycle.