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TO CHEW ON: "But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed." James 1:14
In North America's new-world climate of celebrating practices the Bible condemns, one thing bothers me especially: the young age at which these proclivities apparently manifest themselves. When people say they knew at age five or six that they are the wrong sex—when little elementary school boys and girls say they feel they should really be little girls and vice versa, I find myself asking—weren't they born this way? They don't really have a choice, do they?
James answers these questions in today's reading.
Yes, they were born that way. We were all born twisted by a sinful nature. Each one of us has our set of "own desires" by which we are easily enticed to stray from God's revealed ways—that is, enticed to sin.
The enticements we give in to may be less socially controversial—like the desire to be noticed (pride) or to have lots of stuff (covetousness), etc. But their end is just as much sin as sexual rebellion.
But yes also to the choice question. We do have a choice as to whether we give mental assent and eventually outward expression to those sin-enticing desires. My Bible's study notes explain it this way:
"When inner desires respond to outward enticement, sin is spawned. James does not mention Satan's role in temptation. His purpose is not to discuss the origin of sin but to explain that enticement to evil is not from God. In stressing the outward nature of temptation, James leaves sinners no excuse. Satan is indeed the external source of temptation, but no one can blame him for the roots of sinful deeds, which lie within the individual. See Mark 7:1-23" - John Mark Ruthven, study notes on James, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1751.
So as we consider the society in which we live, let's pause for a personal reality check. We're in the same boat—born sin-twisted, not by the same enticements perhaps, but needing God's grace as much as anyone.
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to see myself as someone needing Your grace, even as I attempt to uphold standards of morality given in the Bible within a society that flaunts breaking them. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.