DAY 22

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Day 22: I Made Me Do It

James 1:13-16
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin; when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.”

Devotional
This is a particularly confrontative set of scriptures because it removes the excuses we’re so prone to use when explaining away our temptations and sin. Most of us know intuitively that God isn’t the one tempting us, but we also hesitate to look at ourselves first, don’t we? It’s much easier to adopt the posture we first saw way back in the Garden of Eden. Remember? When confronted with their sin, Adam and Eve immediately pointed the finger. Adam said, The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Eve probably didn’t appreciate fielding the blame, so she responded, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate”.

All of us tend to be more like Adam and Eve in that moment than we’d care to admit. When confronted with our sin, we’d much prefer to blame the fallen world and lament the minefield of temptation all around us. If it weren’t for (fill in the blank) then I wouldn’t struggle as much. She made me do it! He made me do it! But James holds up a very straightforward mirror for us. At the end of our finger pointing all we’re left with is this truth: I made me do it.

The unfortunate aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin in the garden is its insidious residency inside the hearts of each of us. Everything was altered for mankind with one bite of that fruit. Until the day we meet Jesus face to face, we’ll struggle against our sin nature while ultimately desiring to please Jesus with our lives. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17

The last exhortation James gives in these verses is key for us: Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. When we get lulled into complacency and don’t stay vigilant about this war between flesh and Spirit, it’s a foregone conclusion we’ll be deceived. Our fallback position is flesh, not Spirit. This is why 1 Timothy 4:7 reminds us that we’re to discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness. It will require work and Spirit-enabled effort from us to resist the temptations of our evil desires and walk in holiness. But disciplining ourselves rather than pointing fingers is worthwhile, deception-resistant work worth doing.

Prayer
God, we are so prone to wander away from life in the Spirit and to be lured and enticed into things that do not please you. Open our eyes today and free us from self-deception and the temptation to look for someone or something else to blame for our sin.