Daily encouragement

Video by

Stuart Poteet

Discipleship Pastor

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James 1:14-15

“…but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Behind the Scenes

I remember well the initial joy of finding out I was pregnant a few years ago. I had wanted to have a baby for a while, so finally seeing that positive test sent all the excitements surging. But I also remember something else: A few months after the initial excitement of telling people had worn off and things started to get real with planning, purchasing, and preparing for baby to arrive, I started to experience a profound gratitude that babies take a long time to grow, because the more I learned and prepared, the more I became certain I was not quite ready.  

What is a blessing when it comes to growing and preparing for a baby, the apostle James uses to reveal a sober warning against the power sin can have when we let it linger in our lives. Describing the trajectory of unchecked sin in our hearts, he says, “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James reveals two moments of decision in this metaphor that can teach us to, by the work of Jesus and power of the Spirit, choose life instead of death.  

Make it Real

The first juncture comes when we experience desire. He says desire, once conceived, births sin. This actually reveals good news for believers and our non-believing friends alike! We all experience temptation and desire for what is not good as part of our sin-nature. Thoughts, temptations, and desires confront us constantly – such is the enemy’s tactic. But when we choose to submit those desires to God, through the cleansing work of Jesus on the cross and the empowering of the Spirit in us his followers, we can derail the growth of sin in our lives.  

For our unbelieving friends, we have an opportunity here to share with them about this great hope to overcome the sin struggles we know do not lead to life. In our own power we will never gain lasting traction over the dark corners of our hearts that haunt us. But through the work of Jesus and the very Spirit of God who indwells believers, we can flee from these temptations. As James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”  

The second juncture James’ analogy presents is further down the road. He describes the slow growth of sin in our lives as akin to the slow growth of a baby in the womb. Parents may thank God that a baby grows slowly, but where this blesses parents, it presents an imminent danger for us in regard to our sin.  

Many pregnant moms will take pictures throughout their pregnancy to notice the slow growth of their bellies, because when something is constantly growing, you often don’t notice the changes until you look back later. It’s so gradual that it seems insignificant in the moment. Similarly, when we allow our sin to “hang around,” slowly growing more and more significant in our lives without us really noticing, James says we are on a trajectory toward death.  

Do we believe that? I think that often, we tell ourselves that our sin isn’t a big deal because we don’t view it as literally killing us. Many believers and unbelievers feel like they’re doing just fine and making it by. We know we “struggle” with things, but we don’t see them as serious enough to radically change our habits or our prayers in a way that would actually submit those to the Lord so that we can flee from the enemy’s schemes.  

But our Father knows the weight and cost of our sin quite well. He took it so seriously, in fact, that he was willing to send his own Son to pay the price for the very sin struggles that we allow to hang around in our lives because we don’t see how they have us on a highway toward death. Whether we realize it or not, sin will grow once conceived. We might not notice its expansion in our lives, but to be sure, it’s stripping life away from us every moment we let it linger.

Praise be to God, though, who teaches us how to flee from sin’s grip and provided the means for us to do so. When we submit our lives to God moment by moment through the power of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts, in the same gradual way that a baby grows in life, we exchange the trajectory of death for growth toward the abundant life Christ came to give us.  

End in Prayer

Let’s start on that trajectory right now in prayer:  

Jesus, thank you for making a way for me to trade my trajectory toward death for new life in you! I submit the sin struggles in my life to your holy standard. I know that your way alone leads to life. Please arrest the growth of sin in my life and, by the power of your Spirit, teach me to flee from the enemy’s temptations. I also ask for opportunities to share with my unbelieving friends this hope that I have in overcoming the sin struggles in my life. Give me the compassion and courage to share this hope with them boldly. In your mighty name I pray, Amen!

Written by

Kimber Gilbert

ACF Devo Team Leader