Summary: Christians have the external world, the internal flesh, and the infernal Devil to deal with every day. If you have been a Christian for any length of time, then the Tempter is no stranger to you.
How do seeds give birth?
Seeds. Seeds are baby plants. One of Jesus’ most well-known parables is the parable about the Sower. Jesus describes God as a farmer who liberally sows seeds. He casts seeds where other farmers wouldn’t waste their time and seed … pathways, rocky places, weed patches. But God is not the only one sowing seeds. In Matthew’s gospel, the parable of the Sower is immediately followed by Jesus’ parable of weeds or tares among the wheat:
“The Kingdom of Heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field, but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well” (Matthew 13:24-26).
The same ground that produced wheat also produced noxious inedible weeds (or tares, which look like wheat but are poisonous). The practice of sowing weeds or tare-like plants in someone’s field was so despicable and reprehensible that even the Romans prohibited and punished anyone caught doing it, even if they sowed the weeds in the fields of Rome’s enemies.
In the parable of the Sower, Jesus said that the seeds were “the Word of God” (Matthew 13:18; Luke 8:1`4). The “soil” was the hearts and minds of those listening to the Word of God. But the same soil … the same hearts and minds … can also produce noxious, deadly weeds. The seeds of sin are temptations of various kinds and the enemy, like God, is very, very liberal in sowing the seeds of sin!
I agree with Pastor and Author Tom L. Eisenman that Satan has been busier than ever. “I think the struggle against sin and its power,” says Eisenman, “might be a tougher fight for us now than at almost any other time in recent history … [we] used to have to go out of [our] way to give ourselves to sin.” I’m going to give away my age here … you older folks will know what I’m talking about … you younger people will find this strange … but you really did have to go out of your way to give yourself to sin. You could only find “dirty magazines” and X-rated movies in a certain part of town … the “seedy” part of town. They didn’t sell them in convenience stores, and we didn’t have the internet with every kind of porn imaginable available with the click of a few keys. You had to go to “that part of town” to buy booze or go to a night club. And you never saw or heard the kind of stuff we see on TV today. “Today,” says Eisenman, “the possibilities for sin are present absolutely everywhere … we are exposed daily to an incredible variety of opportunities for disobedience in thought and action.”
Thought and action …
“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman lustfully” … thought … “has already committed adultery” … action … “with her in his heart.” A thought … a seed … is planted in the mind and in the heart. “One is tempted by one’s own desire,” says James. And that thought, that desire, takes root and it “conceives” … it produces … it gives birth to sin (James 1:15).
Temptations are the seeds of sin. If I were to put a seed right here, guess what? Nothing would happen. In order for it to grow it has to be planted in the ground. And, if the conditions are right, a process begins. The potential plant inside the seed begins to stir and cracks the shell that encases it. It begins to swell and grow … putting down roots while the infant plant begins to find its way to the things it needs to survive … sun, rain, and air. Once it breaks through the soil, it continues to grow until it becomes a mature, rooted plant that does what? Produces seeds … which produce more plants.
So too with sin. Before a sin is committed, it must have a starting point … a genesis. You may never have noticed this but the first book of the Bible is what? “Genesis” … which means “beginning.” Beginning of what? Yes … the universe, creation, humanity. But what else has its “genesis”… its beginning … its birth … in the first book of the Bible? Sin!
What Jesus is saying is that adultery has a “genesis” … a beginning. It’s birthed with a thought and that thought, says James, starts with an enticement … a temptation. Proverbs 7 gives us a perfect example of what James is talking about. The proverb stars out by describing a “young man without sense” (Proverbs 7:7). Hmmm … know any “young men without sense”? Any of you ever a young person without sense? I’m sure I’m not alone in this, amen? “Then a woman comes toward him, decked out like a prostitute, wily of heart. She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home” (v. 10-11). I love that image … her feet do not stay at home. Sin … temptation … is like the Devil, prowling around like a “roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1st Peter 5:8).