I am sad to say that the past month has seen this truth being quite evident in my own personal life, the depth, the pain, the torment that this parasite has caused…I wish I could escape this reality. The words of James speak true and speak deep into the heart condition of humanity:
“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
The daily struggle of humanity against temptation and sin. As James has so nicely articulated, temptation begins with our uncontrolled desires, followed by succumbing to the temptation giving birth to sin and, sin, ultimately leading to death.
In that sense, I have likened temptation like a parasite. It grows as it feeds on a person and their desires, slowly, growing bit by bit and unless it is cut off completely from the source of its growth, will continue to steal life from it’s host. Sin doesn’t start out as sin, it starts as small and it grows. It starts with a desire, maybe the desire to be able to support one’s family. A completely legitimate reason, then it grows, if one were rich it would be easier to be support one’s family…and something perfectly honest and good can suddenly turn into a desire leading into a path we never intended. It is our human nature which allows sin’s parasite to get a hold.
What, then, do we do? Do we become stiff-necked, straight-lined people who have no desires and no passion? *yawn* I don’t think so, that’s how we were made and that’s not how life is meant to be either. In one of the old declarations of the church, it states the purpose of humanity: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” These words were written almost 400 years ago! We aren’t meant to be without desire and passion, it gives no glory to God if we are glum and dull.
Going back to the question, what do we do? In my own personal experience, I must say that it is a daily struggle. There are areas in my life where I can say, all praise and glory to God, that I have overcome; but there are some areas where I continue to struggle. I do pray, one day, I will overcome yet for the time being I continue to struggle. There are days where I have success, but that is not to say I have overcome, and there are other days where I have failed.
The days where I have succeeded are generally marked by a few things: firstly, a day set in prayer, secondly, the meditation of Scripture, thirdly, a conscious decision to fight temptation and sin; and if any of these three are lacking, it is a struggle. The first two, prayer and Scripture, serve a couple of purposes: 1) it sets my mind and focus on the things of God, 2) it puts me in a place of accountability before God, 3) it is my source of strength and grace, 4) and it places me in the presence of the Almighty God. The third is most crucial because even with prayer and meditation of Scripture, without a conscious decision to fight against our own human nature, it will fail. Jesus said, “The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mt. 26:41) and Paul said, “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom. 7:15)
The encouragement and challenge are one and the same: fight. Do not fight on your own, God has promised to give us the Holy Spirit which enables us and empowers us, however, it requires us to humble ourselves and ask. In prayer and petition, in the meditation of Scripture, set yourself, in humility, before the throne of grace that He might pour over you the blood of Jesus Christ to protect you and guard you from unrighteousness. My dear brother and sister, fight.