I Am My Own Worst Enemy
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 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. —James 1:12-15
I know that Satan, “ . . . prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour . . .” (1 Peter 5:8), that he is a “tempter” (1 Thess. 3:5), a “liar”(John 8:44), and a “deceiver” (2 John 1:7). But I also know that I am my own worst enemy!
James’ words in 1:12-15 aptly describe most of our greatest struggles. But those struggles are not caused by Satan; they are caused by us. In verse 13, James affirms that God would not tempt anyone to sin. To tempt someone to sin involves an intent to mislead, to trick or to cause to fail. God would never do that. He is holy, righteous, and always does what is for His glory and our good.
Instead, James tells us, we are “lured and enticed by (our) own desires” (v.14). I tempt me! The word “lured” is a fishing word—literally referring to the bait used to draw a fish out of safety and onto a hook. Similarly, “enticed” is a hunting word which conveys the idea of setting a trap to ensnare or to capture.
Notice: who is active in this sentence? According to James, the agent is not a person at work or in your classroom (although he or she could contribute). It is not the driver going too slowly in the left lane. My problem is ME!
James tells us that we must understand the process of temptation if we ever hope to stand victorious against it. We lure and entice ourselves, then we “bite.” We give in . . . we sin. At the point of choice, no one else may know, we may have kept things well hidden and secret. But, James says at this point sin has conceived, and, just as a woman can’t stop a delivery when the day arrives, so also birth will happen. Visible, acted upon sin will happen when it has been conceived in our heart.
Far too many Christ-followers try to fix sin at this point: “I will not gossip, I will not gossip, I will not gossip—oh I did it again.” Or, “I will not look, I will not look, I will not look,” Failed again! But you can’t fight the birthing process after sin has been conceived—wrong struggle. Our energy, attention, and focus need to be back at the beginning, practicing Jesus’ command in John 15:4, “Abide in Me and I in you.”
· Which do I focus on more, abiding in Christ and focusing on my relationship with Him or struggling to follow a checklist of rules?
· Why is it important to have my relationship with Christ be the motivator in trying to address sin issues in my life?
Prayer – Father, You are a loving God and so full of mercy! Thank You for accepting me as Your child. I ask that you erase my sense that I have to follow a set of rules to impress You. Cleanse my mind of all that would cause me to sin. Create in me such a love for You and Your Word that my thoughts remain pure and full of the things of You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.