Summary: The reason you sin is not desire. Jesus desired food but didn’t fall when tempted with food. The problem is not desire; it’s deceived desire. It’s a desire that is deceived about sin, about life and good days, and about God. This passage exposes those deceptions and the way to correct them.
How to Undeceive a Desire
Suffering, Tests, and Temptation Part 9
James 1:15-17 12-7-2014
The reason you sin is not desire. Jesus desired food but didn’t fall when tempted with food. The problem is not desire; it’s deceived desire. It’s a desire that is deceived about sin, about life and good days, and about God. This passage exposes those deceptions and the way to correct them.
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Our Desire: Life and Good Days
Every tear you have ever shed in your life has been because of your deep, profound desire for what 1 Peter 3:10 calls life and good days going unfulfilled.
1 Peter 3:10 Whoever would love life and see good days must…
And he goes on to describe how to get it. Way down deep, deep inside you, right near the core of your being, is a profound desire for life and good days. And all the sorrow and sadness and hurt and pain and disappointment you ever feel are due to that desire going unfulfilled in some way. Peter’s phrase is life and good days. James’ way of saying the same thing is the crown of life and good and perfect gifts from above. Everything we want, we want because we see it as some version of life and good days (or good gifts).
Life refers to life as it should be. Increasing and flourishing in strength, health, growth, energy, and sensation. Good days (or good and perfect gifts) is a very similar concept. It refers to that which brings joy, fulfillment, satisfaction, delight, benefit, profit - fullness of life. Your desire for all that is what steers and governs the direction of your life. It is why you do everything you do. It is why you feel what you feel in your emotions. When your craving for life and good days is not fulfilled right now, that causes sadness or anger. When it looks like your craving for life and good days is not going to be fulfilled in the future, that causes depression or fear. When your desire for life and good days went unfulfilled in the past, that causes ingratitude and a feeling of emptiness or missing out And whatever it is you are doing in your life right now (whether it be pleasing people, pleasing self, or pleasing God), you are doing it because your heart is convinced that is the best way to get life and good gifts. Everyone is on a mission to have a life of good gifts.
Psalm 4:6 Many are asking, "Who can show us any good?
Your answer to that question dictates what you will spend your life running after. Your soul is always on the prowl for life and good gifts. And if you think the source of good for your soul is over there somewhere, no matter what direction you try to steer your life, it will end up going over there. Nothing is more important for deciding the outcome of your life than what your heart thinks is the source of good gifts and the best life.
Our Problem: Deception of Desire
We found in the last study that the source of our sin is not the devil or other people or circumstances or God, but rather it is our own desires. So step 1 in overcoming sin is to stop trying to pass the blame. Every sin you ever commit is an inside job. No one else made you sin – all sin comes from the heart.
And the thing that gives power to temptation – the thing that makes a particular temptation seemingly impossible to resist, is deceived desires. Our desires start out as our friends. They are wonderful gifts from God that keep us moving through life. But when they get deceived about the source of good they become our worst enemy, because in our quest for good gifts and real life, deceived desires point us in the wrong direction.
The way temptation works is like bait on a hook. The only purpose of bait is deception – deceiving the animal into thinking it’s getting something good when it is really getting death.