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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”—James 1:14–15 (NLT)
“Don’t touch that red button!” “Don’t touch the stove!” What’s the first thing you want to do when someone tells you, “Don’t”? Chances are most of you, like me, are stricken with a morbid curiosity as to what will actually happen if you do. Maybe I’ll touch that red button and hundred dollars bills will start raining down on me. Maybe I’ll touch the stove and it will somehow give me superpowers. It feels natural to want to do the opposite of what we’re told; to imagine that whoever placed this restriction on us is simply keeping something amazing from us.
I believe that today’s passage provides the answer as to why we are this way. Here, the apostle James tells us, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” In his analysis of the Book of James, Theologian Joseph Barnes wrote, “The fountain or source of all temptation is in man himself. It’s true that external inducements to sin may be placed before him, but they would have no force if there was not something in himself to which they corresponded, and over which they might have power. There must be . . . something which is unsatisfied now, which is made the foundation of the temptation, and which gives it all its power.” Wow.
So, what can we glean from this? Sin comes from within. The old adage, “The devil made me do it!” is complete malarkey. The devil has no power to force you to do anything. It’s in your mind where you make the decision to sin based on what is in your heart. The devil may take you to water, but he can’t make you drink. We drink because we have a desire in our heart that our mind entices us—builds it up and makes irresistible—and drags us away—as we linger and dwell on it.
And gradually, over time, as we give in to sin and embrace a lifestyle of sin, it will kill us . . . emotionally, spiritually, maybe even physically. This is the tactic the serpent used on Adam and Eve with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and it’s definitely something he continues to do to this day.
I pray that we would have the mind of Christ, that we may seek Him in moments of weakness, and that we may humble ourselves and pray in our struggles before we allow ourselves to succumb and see our lives spiral.
DIG: Read James 1 and Genesis 2:15–17.
DISCOVER: How have you seen this truth in your life or the life of someone else?
DO: Ask the Lord to deliver you from the evil one as he seeks to put you in the path of that which your heart is susceptible to.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.