Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Process of Temptation

We are currently looking at James 1:13-18. Here in this passage, James gives us the consequences for failing trials. When you respond to a trial with a joyous attitude, an understanding mind, and a submissive will, it remains a trial. But when you fail the test, it then becomes a temptation. As we consider this subject again today, we’re going to see how temptation occurs. Notice what James says in 1:14-15:

“But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”

James tells us that temptation begins with a deceptive allurement. He says, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away.” This expresses the intensity of the lust drawing out the tempted individual toward the object of desire and pictures the movement of the tempted one toward it. The words “drawn away” (exelkomenos, pres.pass.part.) is a compound form: the preposition ek, “out,” and the verb helko, “to draw, drag” (Hiebert). It means “To draw out, to draw away, to lure” (Fritz Rienecker, The Linguistic Key to the Greek NT, 723). James uses the present tense to show that the process is always the same. The passive shows that something is luring him, “his own desires (lusts).” The second term “enticed” (deleazomenos) conveys the idea of catching with bait and depicts the juicy worm being dangled before the fish, and his inner craving to appropriate it for himself prompts him to bite. But he is deceived and caught. Instead of enjoying the anticipated pleasure, he is caught by the hook concealed within. It is an apt picture of the deceptiveness of lust.

James now tells us that it becomes a desire. He says, “By his own desires (lusts).” The word “desire” (epithumia) means, “lust, strong desires or cravings.” When you are drawn or lured away by your own lusts, it’s at this point where you begin to justify and rationalize your right to possess what you desire. This is what happened to Eve in Genesis 3:1-8. Satan offered her the baited hook (vv.1, 4-5). Eve desired and yielded to the temptation (v.6). Sin was conceived (vv.7-8, 12-13). David committed the same sin in 2 Sam.11:1-6. He saw the woman naked woman. He desired and yielded to the temptation (v.3). Sin was conceived (vv.4-5, 6ff). James says regarding this, “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.” “Then” points to sequence. The inner craving demands action. It must either be acted on or be resolutely repulsed. When you desire the object you’re tempted with it and yield to it, sin is conceived. D. Edmond Hiebert says, “The craving is an inner reaction of his own nature, but when it is yielded to it becomes malignant and is destructive of his own well-being. Our nature may involuntarily and instinctively feel a longing for a certain object when it is presented, but the craving becomes sinful when it is encouraged and acted upon and the will surrenders to the enticement of the harlot and unites with it in a guilty union. When the will consents to the illicit union, the lustful feeling becomes impregnated with sin” (107).

The word “conceived” (sullambano, aor.act.part.), is a compound form, derived from the preposition sun, “together,” and the verb lambano, “to take.” It has the basic meaning of clasping together.“ It suggests the man’s will bending toward the evil suggestion and seizing it. The sin produced is of one kind or another. It’s exact identity is immaterial. Each lust gives birth to its own kind of sin. The word “Sin” (hamartia, article is absent – used in general). The word “death” is the result of “full-grown” sin and seems to be referring to spiritual death, but physical death is certainly included, and ultimately eternal death also. “Death” is thanatos, which means, a “separation from the body (physical death) or separation from God (spiritual death). “If a certain sin is not cut short, that sin will reach full maturity; it will accomplish its full measure of evil, and the final consequence will be death. Sin becomes the mother of death, as lust is of sin. Adam and Eve responded to the bait of Satan and died. Paul wrote, ‘The wages of sin is death’ (Rom.6:23), and, ‘The mind set on the flesh is death’ (Rom.8:6)” (Vernon Doersken, James 33).

How are you responding to temptation today? Understand that the process is always the same and you don’t have to yield to it. Colossians 3:5 gives us the action we are to take towards sin. It says, “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (NASB).

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