The last James post was really short, I know, but I felt like I could do that without feeling bad because it was so important. Many times, I think, we blame God when bad things come, but it's not His fault. He allows hard times to come so that when we go through them our faith might be strengthened.
Let us go on to verses fourteen through sixteen, which are still speaking of temptations.
But every man is tempted, when he is driven away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Temptation originates in your heart. James is clear with this in verse fourteen. He says that "every man is tempted when he is driven away of HIS OWN lust, and enticed. It's not God, it's YOU. God does not tempt you, you are tempted when you are driven away by YOUR OWN lust. You have no one else to blame.
Stop now and think of one time you desired to have something. Shouldn't be too hard. It happens many times to each of us every day. Have you thought of something yet? Did you ever want a new cell phone? Corvette? Chocolate bar? Don't read on until you've got one thing in your mind.
Got it yet? Okay.
What did you think of in relation to this thing? You probably wanted whatever it was pretty bad, right? For some of us, a beat up Jeep is the last thing we'd want; but for some of us, that's our dream. The reason for this is simply personality. We all like different things, we all dislike different things. We were created different and unique. Nothing wrong with that.
What is wrong, though, is lusting after something. Obviously, if you hate chocolate, you're not going to lust after a bar of it. But you may lust after a beat up Jeep or brand new Corvette.
But how, you ask, am I supposed to keep these lusts out?! How in the world am I to NOT think about things like that. I don't have power over things that just pop into my head!
Well, no you don't. But, yes you do.
Thinking, "oh, it would sure be cool to have that", and thinking, "oh, I would really LOVE to have that!" are two different things. They are different mind sets. Different levels, you might say, of lust.
Just thinking that something is cool isn't bad; and it's not sin. Lust is sin. Lust is thinking about it often, wanting it, looking towards it as something very important. Dictionary.com uses the words "passionate" and "intense" and "overmastering desire" when defining lust. Lust is a thing that eats up your energy, time, love, and attention.
I like how James started verse fifteen - he writes that when lust has "conceived". A good word for this is "formed". When lust has formed...This implies the prior building up of it. The nurturing of it. The "forming" of it. Clearly, this lust wasn't taken care of when it was small, but has now grown.
James goes on to say that once lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. Here, he uses the analogy of human life. Lust, once conceived, brings forth sin. When lust is allowed to grow and form, it will eventually cause you to sin. So, is lust in and of itself sin? Or does it just make sin happen? Say, if you want a candy bar long enough and you allow that lust to conceive, will you go steal one? I don't think this is correct. Granted, in many cases, if you lust for something long enough you will more than likely act upon it. But I don't think that is what James is implying.
In the original Greek and Hebrew, the languages in which the Old and New Testaments were written, the words for lust and covet are very similar. They mean basically the same thing. One of the ten commandments was "Do not covet". It made the top ten! Clearly, this is something that does not bring God glory.
But, there's one more step. Sin, James says, then brings forth death. The wages of sin is death. The payment for sin is death. Not physical death, mind you, but spiritual death. Eternal separation from God. Eternity in the worst place of all - hell. Eternal torture. Eternal death.
But, you may ask, you didn't answer your own question! HOW am I to NOT lust? Answer this question yourself. Think about it. If your mind is filled with these lusts, how do you get them out? In the same way, if you have a pool full of water that you cannot tip or drain, how do you get the water out?
By replacing the water with something else.
Go to God's word. Go to Him in prayer. When you fill your mind with other things, things more important, you replace what was in your mind previously. You can replace your lust.
Ask God for guidance. Ask Him for help. Fill your mind with things of Him. Fill your time with things that glorify Him. Live every moment for His glory alone and you won't have any time left over for things of this world.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says that in everything we do - whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we need to do ALL for the glory of God!
Finally James writes, "do not err my beloved brethren". James loves his brothers and sisters in Christ as we also ought to love them. He is human also, he knows what they are going through for he goes through the same things. He feels their pain. He warns - do not err. Don't do what's wrong, do what's right. Those believers then, as well as the believers now, are our "beloved brethren". Our brothers and sisters whom we love in Christ.
I think we can pull one last thing from this section. James' love for his brethren. He loved them enough to take the time to write this letter to them. He loved them so much that he took the time to instruct them in the word of God. Do we love our brothers and sisters that much? Do we love them enough to set aside what we want to do to take time to help, edify, and encourage them?
Do you love your brethren?
In Christ alone,