Tempted by Lust
James 1:14-15 says, “But each one is tempted when he is enticed and drawn away by his own lust. Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished (or completed) it brings forth death.”
We’re told in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death.. but the free gift of God, is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So you might say that when sin has been accomplished, when it’s over and done, you’ve “earned” spiritual death. You’ve earned your wages, haven’t you? But you can’t “earn”, the free gift of God. There’s nothing you can do to earn it, and you don’t deserve it, but God offers it to you anyhow.
But what I want to talk about though, is that word “lust”, from James 1:14.
The word “lust” is from the Greek word, “ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah”. There are several words used to translate that Greek word. Words like.. desire, eagerness, passionate longing, coveting, concupiscence, and craving. Much of the time, the word is used specifically to mean.. craving and longing for what is forbidden! Just like in the garden of Eden, when Eve had a “craving”, for the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She had a longing for what was forbidden. But that’s what happens sometimes, when the spirit of satan starts talking to us. We start wanting things that we know, we shouldn’t have.
Just like James says.. “We are enticed, by our own lust”, our own craving and longing, for what is forbidden. And then we become “drawn away by it”. Drawn away from what is good, and drawn to, what is bad. And then our lust, “gives birth to sin”. That’s when we actually commit the ACT of sin. But sometimes that act, can be committed in your mind, it doesn’t always have to be committed by your “deeds”.
Your thoughts can cause you to sin. And so Paul wrote in 2 Cor 10:5, “..We are bringing every thought, into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” But if we don’t bring our actions AND our thoughts into obedience to God, then we sin. And when “sin is accomplished”, or completed, it brings forth spiritual death. We are paid the “wages” for our sin, right then and there. “On the spot” payment!
Every Sin Requires Repentance
That’s something that I don’t think we take seriously enough. And I don’t know if we really realize what’s going on when we sin. DEATH is going on! A lot of people believe that if a person is a Christian, that they have an automatic “pardon” to sin. But that’s not true. Every sin, requires repentance. And if there’s no repentance for a given sin, then there’s no forgiveness for that sin either. But instead, the scripture says.. “When sin is accomplished, it beings forth death.” When a person sins, they die spiritually, right then and there.
If we consider doing something that we know is sinful.. We need to consider this fact, that if we do it, we’ll be dead in a moment! Do you remember what God told Adam, in Genesis 2:16-17.. ?
“From any tree of the garden, you may eat freely, BUT, from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall NOT eat from it. For IN THE DAY that you eat from it, you shall surely die!”
Now, I don’t believe for a minute, that God was telling Adam that at some later time during that day, he would die. God was telling Adam that there would be no DELAY in his death. In the same day, and at the same time that you sin, “you shall surely die!”
James also tells us WHEN sin brings forth death. He says, “When sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” He doesn’t say, an hour later, and He doesn’t say next week. And He doesn’t say it’ll bring forth death ONLY on the judgment day; Although it will bring eternal death on that day! If we arrive at the judgment day with sin, we’ll already be dead spiritually, but then, it’ll become eternal, spiritual death!
So, when does God say that sin will bring forth death?
When sin is ACCOMPLISHED, it brings forth death
That’s why it SO important, that we RECOGNIZE our sin, and HUMBLE ourselves, and REPENT of our sin. That would be a pretty good “formula” wouldn’t it? Recognize our sin, humble ourself, and repent of our sin. But you know.. maybe the “humbling” needs to come first. Maybe if we humble ourselves FIRST, that would make it easier for us to recognize our sin. If we’re too proud, we won’t see our own sin, will we? We’ll see everyone else’s, but we won’t see our own.
So maybe our formula had better be.. Humble ourselves, recognize our sin, and repent of our sin. You remember what happens when we humble ourselves don’t you? We’re exalted! That’s what God says..
“He who humbles himself shall be exalted.” Luke 14:11, Luke 18:14, Mathew 23:12. Even James wrote, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James 4:10.
How long do you think you have to wait, before God will exalt you? Will God only exalt you on the judgment day? I don’t think so. I think He’ll exalt you right now. I think He’ll exalt you, and bless you, and be happy over you. And I think He’ll do it right now, just as soon as you humble yourself in His presence. There’s no waiting period.
How long do you have to wait, to be forgiven of a sin that you repent of? If you truly repent, from your heart, which is actually the only way there is to repent.. How long will you have to wait for that forgiveness? It’s immediate, isn’t it?
“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come, from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19. So then, humble yourself IN the “presence of the Lord”, and your refreshing will come FROM the “presence of the Lord”. Do you want to be “in the presence of the Lord”? Then humble yourself, and repent; or you won’t BE in His presence.
Separated From God
What does sin do, to the “presence of the Lord”?
Isaiah 59:2 says, “Your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.”
How long does it take for that separation to occur? I believe the scriptures are saying that it takes just about as long, as it takes for our forgiveness to occur. It’s immediate!
Do you know how satan, was talking to Eve, in the garden? Satan, which is the spirit of evil, was telling her that it was justifiable, that it was okay, to disobey God’s word? And she told Adam, he disobeyed also. So they both ate of the forbidden fruit, and they were just “going about they’re business”, you might say, in the garden.
UNTIL, they heard “the sound of the Lord God, walking in the garden in the cool of the day..” Genesis 3:8. And then do you know what they did? “..the man and his wife, hid themselves..”
From what? “..from the presence of the Lord, among the trees of the garden.”
But even BEFORE they heard the sound of the Lord, in the garden, they were already separated from His presence, spiritually, because that’s exactly what sin DOES. It separates us from God. Death, is a separation. Physical death is the separation of our spirit, from our body. And spiritual death, is the separation of our spirit, from God. Adam and Eve, were already spiritually dead!
And so are WE, when we sin. When our sin is “accomplished”, we are at that time, separated from God, and spiritually dead.
You’ve heard this verse haven’t you..
“But thanks be to God, who has given us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Cor 15:57.
The “victory” is that we don’t have to STAY, separated from God. We don’t have to stay, spiritually dead. That’s the victory we can have, victory over death!
It says in Acts 11:18, “..They were silent, and glorified God saying; To the Gentiles also, God has given repentance unto life.” Repentance had already been given to Israel, and now repentance was given to the Gentiles. In other words God has given repentance to ALL people!
I heard a preacher say one time, that repentance is something that God does FOR us; Because that verse says, “God has GIVEN repentance unto life”. But that’s not what God is saying here. We KNOW, from many other scriptures, that WE are the ones that have to repent!
On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the men of Israel; “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, FOR the forgiveness of sins..” Acts 2:38. I won’t go through all the other verses that tell us to repent. But when the scriptures say that God has given repentance, it obviously means that He has given us the OPPORTUNITY to repent.
And so, we don’t have to STAY separated from God. We don’t have to remain, spiritually dead. We can always repent. Until our final breath, we have the opportunity to repent. That’s why someone has said.. “May your last breath, be a prayer of forgiveness, for your last sin”. And I don’t know about you, but I say, “Amen to that!”
God has given us the victory, through Jesus Christ! HE has paid the price, that WE, could never pay. And what does He ask in return? I love this next verse, because it’s so simple, and it’s so plain and straightforward..
Micah 6:8, “He has told you O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you; But to DO justice, to LOVE kindness (another word for that is “loyalty”), and to walk HUMBLY, with your God?”
Did you know that God WANTS to exalt us. But we MUST walk HUMBLY with Him.
Don’t exalt yourself, and demand what you lust for. Humble yourself, and put aside worldly lusts.
“Do not LOVE the world, nor the things IN the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is NOT in him”.
“For ALL that is in the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world”.
“And the world, AND it’s lusts, is passing away. But the one who DOES the will of God, abides forever.” 1 John 2:15-17.
Lust, longing, craving, desire, coveting.. They’re all synonymous with the Greek word Ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah. But that word, isn’t ALWAYS used in a BAD sense. The word itself can refer to something bad, OR good. Listen to this definition from a Greek word study; Ep-ee-thoo-mee’-ah.. “passionate desire”; properly.. “passion built on strong feelings, or urges. These can be positive, or negative, depending on whether the desire is inspired by faith”. Our desires, need to be inspired, and motivated, by faith! Faith in God!
So, in other words, it’s perfectly fine, to have strong desires, and longings, and cravings, as long as they’re inspired by faith in God, and by godly things.
Let me show you how that word is used in a good sense in the bible..
In Philippians 1:23-24, Paul wrote, “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the DESIRE to depart and be with Christ, for that is much better. Yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.” The word “desire” is used in a very good sense here. Paul had a longing, a craving, a desire to depart and be with Christ, “for that is much better”.
Here’s another example..
Jesus said in Luke 22:15, “With desire, I have desired, to eat this the Passover with you, before I suffer.”
Jesus had a strong craving, and a longing to share the Passover meal with His apostles, His closest friends. And His desire was motivated by love, wasn’t it?
Listen to what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians..
1 Thess 2:17, “But we brethren, having been bereft of you for a period of time; in face, not in spirit; were all the more eager, with great desire, to see your face.”
Paul had a “great desire”. He had a “godly desire” to see them personally! He was always with them in spirit, but he wanted to see them in person. Why ? Because he loved them. Paul wanted to encourage them in faith, personally.
So now, let’s think back on that verse in James 1:14, “But each one is tempted when he is enticed, and drawn away with his own desire, his own lust.”
The word “enticed” in that verse, actually means to be “deceived”. It has the meaning of baiting someone to fall into a trap. The word is only used three times in the bible, but all three times it has this same meaning. So when it comes to the temptation to sin, God is telling us, that we are being DECEIVED, into thinking that the thing we’re lusting for, is good for us. When in reality, the thing we’re lusting for is going to kill us! Just like eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, killed Adam and Eve, at the very moment they ate from it. So it is, with our own cravings and desires. If they’re not cravings that originate from faith, and if they’re not cravings for doing God’s will, then they will kill us. They will kill us spiritually, at the very moment that we accomplish them.
That’s what James wrote; “When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:15.
V-16 says, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.” When we sin, we are spiritually dead!
Be Drawn To God
But I want to turn things around a little bit here.. And say, that God WANTS us to be “drawn away”, with a desire so strong, that we can’t resist it! God wants us to be “drawn away” FROM the world, and to be drawn TO Him!
The bible says, in James 4:8, “Draw near to GOD, and he will draw near to you.” He says in V-10, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord..
(and what will He do?) and He will EXALT you.”
When the spirit of evil starts talking to you, and telling you, that the things of this world that you lust for, are GOOD.. Don’t be deceived! The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life, will kill you!
Do you remember what Eve thought, as she looked at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
Genesis 3:6 says, “The woman saw (so she thought in her mind) that the tree was good for food, and it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise..” That’s what she was thinking, as she looked at that tree. Look how “good” that fruit would be for me. She was thinking that HER desires were pretty important. That’s pride!
Do you know what she should have been thinking? She should have been thinking what James wrote in James 4:6-7,
“God is OPPOSED to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. SUBMIT therefore to God, RESIST the devil, and he will flee from you.”
“Submit therefore to God”. Those are four words that we desperately need to learn. “Submit therefore to God”. When we have choices to make in life, we need to submit to what God’s word says, is the “right” choice. When we’re in a fearful situation, what do we do? We submit to God. We need to become INSPIRED by our faith, to overcome our fears, and put our trust in God! What would Jesus do, in the same situation that we’re in? Did God the Father, ever say to Jesus the Son; O ye of little faith? You know He didn’t. And do you know why?
Because Jesus “desired, with desire”, to do God’s will, in everything.
It is God’s will that you believe His word, and repent of your sins. He’s given us the opportunity to repent. If we’re dead in sin, we don’t have to stay that way. We can confess our faith in Him, and we can get rid of our sins in baptism, and be forgiven; When? Immediately!
“And now, why do you delay.. Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” Acts 22:16.
And if you’ve already been baptized, but have “accomplished sin” again, then you need to repent again. And when you do, you’ll receive immediate forgiveness, and you’ll once again be “in His presence”.
There’s absolutely NO reason, to remain in sin..
“The Spirit and the bride say come. And let the one who hears, say come. And let the one who is thirsty, come. Let the one who wishes, take of the water of life, without cost.” Rev 22:17.
Be in His presence eternally!
May God bless you in the study of His word.