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. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James 1:14-16
One of the most dreaded words in the English language is “cancer.” No one wants to hear the doctor state that “we have found cancer…” Fear begins to grip the mind and thoughts race through it attempting to come to some conclusion. What does this mean for me and my family? There are no solid answers. We are sitting there in somewhat of a state of shock. We did not go to the doctor only to discover the diagnosis is negative. Yet, God is in control.
Now think about the words of James as he writes that when we are tempted, we are drawn away by our own desires and enticed – like cancer – sin begins with one single desire and when acted upon gives birth to sin.
James continues “sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
These are serious words by the Apostle James, brother of Jesus. He is warning everyone that we will be tempted; however, if we allow evil desires to enter our heart, we will be drawn away from the Lord and the devil will entice us and we will fall for his bait and become ensnared in sin.
When we yield to the desires of the flesh, sin is birthed and will spread like wild fire through our mind, will and soul. The end result is spiritual death. Our eyes must be keenly set on Jesus and His unchanging grace, mercy and love. During the minutes or hours of temptation we must run into the arms of Christ or choose to yield to the lure of sin.
Here is what King Solomon, son of King David wrote about the vanity of seeking pleasure.
I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. I said of laughter – “Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” I searched in my heart how to gratify my flesh with wine, while guiding my heart with wisdom, and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives.
I made my works great. I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. Eccl. 2:1-11
In other words, Solomon stated that “I have wasted my life seeking pleasure and it is all folly and vain with no profit under the sun” (my version)
These are the words of disappointment and disillusionment which is the life experience of many who are seeking and grasping for possessions, power and pleasures of the world. They find they have lived an empty and meaningless life, sinking into despair. Empty and futile pleasure results in nothing that can satisfy at the end of life.
Almost three thousand years ago, Solomon was instructing us of this human dilemma; the insights and applications of his message are relevant to us today.
The words of Solomon were from one who “had it all” in life. He was wise and wealthy but failed to heed his own advice. He began a downward spiral. Near the end of his life Solomon looked back with an attitude of humility and repentance. He took inventory of his life, hoping to share and spare his readers the bitterness of learning from personal experience that anything and everything apart from God is meaningless.
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 12:8
Sin does not pay any dividends. Fear God and obey His commandments was King Solomon’s conclusion.