Sin Beneath the Surface
Sin is like a weed. If you do not get it at the root, you have not really gotten it at all. If you are trying to overcome sin without dealing with it at its roots, then be prepared to fail. And even if you manage to overcome one sin, some other sin will take its place if you do not figure out how to cut it off at its source and replace it with what God intended. This is the issue James addresses in James 1:13–15.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
According to James, the only thing that precedes the sin that leads to death is the temptation connected to desire. If we want to overcome sin, then, we must address sin at the level of the desires by which we are tempted. This does not mean that we must get rid of our desires. That is not even possible. For if we wanted to get rid of all desire, our wanting to rid ourselves of desire would itself always remain as a desire of ours. The key is to desire the right things and pursue them the right way.
Regardless of the sin, there are three main things I have found that appeal to people—three desires people mishandle every day, leading them straight into sin: people want to be accepted, people want a shortcut, and people do not want to suffer. But with each of these, there are two things we must do: recognize the lie and remember the promise.
Over the next several weeks, we will take a closer look at these desires, how they are mishandled, and how we can choose to fulfill our desires God’s way.