“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14–15, AV)
I was pretty much raised with a fishing rod in my hands. At a young age, my dad would take my brother and me fishing. We mostly fished with bait on a hook, but sometimes, we would use artificial lures. For those that are not familiar with fishing, artificial lures are things that look like what the fish would be eating but are not real. The object of using an artificial lure is to entice the fish through deception to try to eat something that is not real and will not satisfy the hunger. When this happens, the fish is hooked and put into the cooler.
In the previous devotion, James explained that God is not responsible for our sinning. Now he goes on to explain the mechanism of temptation and sin. the analogy of fishing explains this mechanism very well. James stated that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” When I would fish with an artificial lure, I would cast the lure to a place where I had a good indication the fish would be hiding. Then by retrieving the lure in a certain way, the fish could be drawn out from his hiding place to investigate the lure by its own desires and enticed to strike it. Temptation works in the same way.
When we are tempted, we are drawn out and enticed by our own desires. The word translated “lust,” is epithumia, which has its origin in two words, epi, a preposition referring to upon or by and thumos, which refers to passion. Epithumia refers to being drawn to act upon our passions that are at work within us. These are the longings, cravings and desires that are rooted in us.
The devastating part of this picture is that when the fish takes the lure, it gets hooked and it is too late. It is not until then that the fish realizes that it has been deceived. What it thought would satisfy does not. It is the same when we are tempted to sin. Often, we are lured by our own fleshly lusts. We are enticed to try something that is wrong. Yet, we think it will satisfy us. However, it does not. There is a hook in every temptation that will take us somewhere we do not want to go.
James goes on to tell us that sin brings forth death. Yes, we understand that “the wages of sin is death” and we praise the Lord that “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23, AV). Yet, we must also realize that sin has a present devastating reality. When we succumb to its temptation, others are often hurt and we are injured in many ways. Sin will injure our ability to have pure fellowship with God (Psalm 66:18; 1 John 1:6). Sin will leave us with a scarred conscience. Sin may devastate our relationships on earth. It may harm us physically and emotionally.
The good new is that there is a remedy for sin. It is confession and repentance. While for believers the sin problem has been settled in heaven once and for all (Rom 8:1), we still need to take the remedy for our present problem. John writes to believers, ““If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, AV). This confession restores our ability to commune in beautiful fellowship with God. Jesus through His atoning sacrifice made this possible for everyone.