James 1:14–16 “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
In these verses we have the five steps of temptation:
1. The temptation itself. “But each one is tempted . . .”
The evil thought knocks on the door of your imagination. As they say, “Opportunity knocks once, but temptation beats on the door every day.” It happens to the best of us; there are no exceptions. There is no sin here yet. It is not the bait that constitutes temptation, but the bite. There’s still a way out.
2. You are now under its power and enjoying the experience.
“Drawn away by his own desires . . .”
You are now “taking it for a test drive.” It’s been said, “What makes temptation difficult for many people is they don’t want to discourage it completely.”
3. You are almost hooked. “Drawn away . . . and enticed.”
There is still a way out. However, the will is weakening; the temptation is getting more alluring. You are thinking, processing, considering.
4. The hook is now set.
“Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.” The evil thought has been acted upon. The sin is now conceived; the process is in full swing. The short-lived pleasure and euphoria, then the realization of what you have done, and hopefully the guilt—a sense of deadness, regret.
5. Finally, the deadly effects of sin kick in.
“And sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” The Bible warns, “The soul that sins shall surly die,” and “the wages of sin are death.” You are now separated from God. If you continue in this pattern, it could destroy you. Like a mortally wounded person you need immediate attention. You need to turn to God in repentance now!
Learn more about how to resist temptation in my message from last Sunday.