“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived my brothers.”
James 1: 15-16
James 1: 13-18
I continue the study in James following an enforced absence. To remind yourself of the last blog refer back to the 28th September
I once dealt with a serious crime of ‘obtaining property by deception.’ A self-purported gardener deceived an agoraphobic, elderly gentleman out of oodles of cash and all the property in his thirty room near mansion. The victim believed the ‘gardener’ was keeping his grounds beautifully and that he helped in the house too. Confined to just two rooms in his home he saw nothing of the reality and was at risk of losing his house. Deception is nearly always damaging whether we are deceived by others or ourselves. Forms of deception abound at present in this era of pandemic and conspiracies but what is the source of deception?
In this opening chapter James links the previous topic of trials to the focus in these verses, that of temptation. In trials and difficulties we can face all sorts of temptations as we react to the outside stimuli. Just consider the impact that COVID is having on the world, communities and ourselves. In good times too we can easily fall to the temptations we face. In both situations we will often look to blame the circumstances, others or even God for putting us in the way of these trials and temptations. James, however, warns us to not be so easily deceived. We are reminded that God is perfect, pure and un-tempt-able; He will not be trying to lure us away from His goodness. No, temptation is born in our hearts with our own desires which can entice us and drag us away from God.
Once this desire is conceived it can lead to the birth of sin and when full grown the sin gives birth to death. This is serious and explains why it is so important not to be deceived by ourselves or others. Death is the consequence of sin, sin is the consequence of our rebellion against God. We do not want to forget the true condition of our souls without God nor do we want to deceive ourselves over the solemnity of sin. In the Garden of Eden there was temptation and deception with awful penalties, our relationship and dwelling with God were lost. As we will consider on Wednesday though, God has chosen to give us a new birth (vs. 18). So let us in faith put the home of our heart in order so that we do not lose it, let us not be deceived or tempted as Adam and Eve were or the elderly gentleman I mentioned at the start. In encouragement, whilst remembering, the seriousness of sin let us also remember the goodness of God.
To Ponder: What temptations are you facing today; do you battle regular temptation? Can you identify the desire in your heart that is the source of this temptation? Give it all to the Lord, make the following confession and know the freedom and love He offers.
N.B. If you have serious difficulty with a particular temptation reach out for help to a Priest or Christian friend you can trust
Pray: Most merciful God, I confess to you, before the whole company of heaven, that I have sinned in thought, word and deed and in what I have failed to do. Forgive me my sin, heal me by your Spirit and raise me to new life in Christ. Amen
Praise: How deep the Father’s love for us – Stuart Townend
Jesus Lamb of God
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.