An Illustration of James 1:15

Q. James 1:15 says, “Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” Could you please give me an illustration for this verse? How do you explain it? I find it not easy though it seems easy.

A. James 1:13-15 is about taking responsibility for our sins. James said we can’t accuse God of tempting us because He is neither tempted by evil nor does He tempt anyone else. He said we are enticed to sin because of our own evil desires, which cause lustful thoughts. When these thoughts are given consideration they become sin, which under the Law is punishable by death.

Here’s a hypothetical example. Let’s say I’m walking down the street when I see a beautiful woman coming toward me. This woman is not my wife but I find her to be attractive just the same. If I entertain even a momentary thought on what it might be like to become sexually involved with her, I’ve committed the sin of adultery which is punishable by death (Matt. 5:27-28).

Can I blame God for making the woman attractive to me, or for causing her to cross my path, or for making me a typical man with typical desires? No. I can only blame myself for entertaining such a thought about a woman I’m not married to.

This is one of the illustrations Jesus used in His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) to show us our need for a Savior, because it’s impossible for us to always avoid doing things like this. And the same is true of an angry thought, or an envious one, or an untruthful one. As long as we have a sin nature, we’ll have sinful thoughts. And under God’s Law sinful thoughts will condemn us as surely as sinful actions. But if we’re born again all we have to do is confess, and we’ll be forgiven and purified from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

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