James 1: 12 – 16
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation.  Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one.  But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death.  Do not be deceived, my beloved.

Desire … not a bad word in and of itself.  We are people with desires and longings.  The Greek word is epithymia.  And simply means an intense desire, a craving.  Jesus uses the same word when He speaks about “desiring” to eat the Passover with His disciples before going to the cross.  (Luke 22:15)  That’s the positive use of the word.  As believers we “desire” to be transformed into the likeness of our Lord.  We “desire” to be part of the people of God.  And such “desires” are noble and good.  In fact, such “desires” are holy.

But not all cravings are good – as you and I well know.  That’s the side that James addresses in these verses.  The context of the passage determines the positive or negative definition.

Dr. K. A. Richardson, in the New American Commentary, defines the negative side of epithymia as  deformed desire.  Deformed – twisted, distorted, disfigured.  Do you have any ‘desires’ that would fall into that category?   James indicates that deformed desire is a universal problem.

Do you remember the comedian, Flip Wilson?  He was a comedian in the 70s that is immortalized by the phrase “The devil made me do it!”  It was funny … he was funny.  The problem comes when we take that idea to heart and absolve ourselves from responsibility for our behaviors and actions.  After all, the devil made us do it … we had no control … not our fault. 

James enters that arena and says that we deceive ourselves with such foolishness.  Temptations to do ungodly things, to behave in ungodly ways, may very well be sent to us by the evil one – he may plant the seed.  God does not!  God’s ’desire’ is for our holiness – our union with Him.  The evil one may plant the seed,  but that evil one cannot MAKE you do anything.  WE FEED THE DEFORMED DESIRE!  We dwell on it … fantasize about it … focus on it.  And what happen?  As we focus our mind and heart on the deformed desire, we give it birth.  The behavior follows.  The sin is done.

Now, two choices arise.  We can either, confess it to our Lord- claim the responsibility – repent and turn – do the hard work to break addictions – restore right relationship with God, 

We can continue to feed the deformity.  Grow it.  Blame others.  Be the ‘victim’.

Make not mistake … sin gives birth to death.  James 1:15.  Paul told us the exact same thing in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Our lesson? 

  • recognize the deformed desires in your own heart
  • claim the responsibility
  • take it to the Lord
  • endure under it … never quit the battle
  • then accept His cleansing work … and LIVE … both now and forever.

Lord, open my eyes today to any deformity in my own heart and mind.  Let me see it … no more excuses … no more rationalizations … and hold me steady and firm.  Go before me in the battle.  You are my strength, my wisdom, my very life. 

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