Apply to Christ
So the birth pangs of sin begin with the secret and evil desires of the heart which are called forth and enticed by the temptations of Satan who uses our sinful natures and the world against us. This is what we discovered yesterday. Today, we move beyond this to what James calls the “conceiving” of evil desire. Now we must understand that even though we are moving towards sin’s birth, the evil desire that is already lodged in the heart is sinful in and of itself. We must be wiser than to think that we have not sinned if we have not committed the actual deed. Our Lord makes this plain when he tells us that lust and anger are sins when they are merely ruminating in the heart even if never acted upon (Matthew 5:21-30).
But here it seems that James is dealing with sin in a more linear, step-by-step sort of way to its actual production. It begins with the enticement of evil desire. This is where we said yesterday that the battle is won or lost. The heart must be guarded by constant meditation on matters of the Spirit and heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-4). That evil desire has been called forth by some temptation is already a defeat for us. Still, victory may be snatched from the jaws of defeat if we will turn from the temptation and close the door on the thought-patterns the evil desire is placing before our minds.
But instead, we continue with those thoughts, we ruminate, we ponder, we give our imaginations over to those lusts, angers, worries, cares—that is, we are conceiving sin and moving rapidly to birthing it. It is only a matter of time before we act on our ruminations which is sin’s maturation. It began as an embryonic evil desire, but we will have conceived, nursed, nurtured, and brought forth sin to mature adulthood simply through the working of our corrupt minds which we would not change, from which we would not repent.
And now that we have produced this rotten fruit called sin, there is only one natural course it may take and that is death. The Apostle Paul said it most pointedly: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This fact of life cannot be reversed or undone through natural means. But it can be undone by supernatural means, for the verse goes on, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He is the one who through rebirth in the Spirit provides us with the strength to grow in grace and the ability to not only say, “No,” to temptation but to also experience the healing of those evil desires which so trip us up. When temptation comes, apply to Christ.