Day 32: Temptation, Future Failure, and Where Sin Starts

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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 1:14-15

Based on a story by famed science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, “Minority Report” is an action-detective thriller set in Washington D.C. in the year 2054, where police utilize a psychic technology to arrest and convict criminals before they commit their crime. Some of the alleged criminals haven’t even felt a desire to commit the crime yet while others are feeling tempted, but have not yet acted on those desires.

Maybe you haven’t thought of this yet, but all the sins in our lives arise from our desires. And those desires are fed by our triggers—the things we look at, do, or think about that get us off track. In order to avoid these triggers, we need to have a clear exit strategy. In order to make our lives more thankful and make more of an impact on the world for God’s glory, we have to be smart about what we ingest with our eyes and chew on with our minds. A lot of the things we’ve allowed began with what seemed like harmless exposure to triggers. In order to be truly thankful, we have to mind what we let our minds ponder. Since desire starts in our hearts and minds, it is crucial that we learn to be mindful of what we think. One way we can be mindful of our thoughts is by reminding ourselves of the danger of letting our minds wander along the edges of sin. After all, it isn’t only what we do that’s sin; it’s what we think as well. That means that the thought, if allowed to fester in our minds and become more than a passing notion, turns into sin before we even do anything.

“There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets ‘things’ with a deep and fierce passion.”

A. W. Tozer

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that temptation in itself is not a sin. If that were the case, we would have to say that Jesus sinned since he was tempted in the desert, and Scripture makes it clear that’s not true. But a TEMPTATION CAN TURN INTO SIN WHEN WE LINGER ON IT, PONDER IT, AND ULTIMATELY ACT ON IT.

The alternative to a mind focused on sin is a mind that concentrates on whatever is pure and good. “Fix your thoughts on what
is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admi- rable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me— everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). In order to instill gratitude into our minds, we have to remove the influences of the world and replace them with the truth of God.

Some practical ways to do this are through prayer, meditation, and counting our blessings. Prayer is the fuel for self-control—it helps us to be mindful of what God wants from us. Meditation is just the act of thinking about God and his Word. It’s the way we increase our understanding of truth—we think long and hard about what God’s Word says and how it applies to our lives. Counting our blessings is expressing our appreciation to God for who he is and what he has done in our lives. All of these practical exercises lead to a life of peace and thankfulness. We can’t be thankful and bitter at the same time. And we can’t suffer from lack and be thankful at the same time. Thankfulness is the ultimate evidence of a life surrendered to God.

Questions to ponder

Have you ever been accused of something you hadn’t done but were thinking about doing? How guilty did you feel and why?

All the sins in our lives arise from our desires–when you hear that statement, how does that make you feel about how you are living your life?

Ponder and discuss the relationship between sin and thankfulness, desire and contentment.

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