Although this post can stand alone, to fully grasp the intent of this series, please read the three posts published in March.
Though we have been delivered from sin and its rule, we have not been delivered from its attacks. There is a constant battle within us. In most cases, we are losing the battle because we do not understand the basic nature and strategy of sin. For us to wage a successful war against the old man (who is under the dominion of sin) we need to understand some important principles. The first was that sin takes root in the heart. The second is that sin finds strength in our desires.
Principle Two: SIN FINDS STRENGTH IN OUR DESIRES
From the last post, we understand that sin takes root in the heart. The word heart indicates the whole soul of a person—our reason, our will, our desires, and our emotions. This post will discuss how sin finds strength in the desires within our hearts.
To begin with, it must be understood that temptation is not a sin, but an opportunity to make a choice. On temptation, John Owen author of On the Mortification of Sin writes, “Temptation is like a knife that may either cut the meat or the throat of a man; it may be his food or his poison, his exercise or his destruction.” The choice that temptation brings is to either sastify our lustful desires or to exercise our faith by adhering to the inclinations of the Holy Spirit and what Scripture declares is consistent with the attributes of God. Remember, sin is what God is not. Thus, to NOT sin would be to make a choice that is consistent with the character of God.
When we are faced with the choice temptation brings, a struggle begins.
The next time you are faced with a temptation, notice the battle between your desires and your reason. If you give in, it is because your desire has overcome your reason in the struggle to influence your will. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members” (Romans 7:21-23).
Satan attempts to exploit this opportunity of temptation by appealing to our desires in what Scripture references as “the pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25). James wrote that we are tempted when we are dragged away and enticed by our own evil desires (James 1:14). The problem lies within. It is our own evil desires that lead us into temptation. Outside forces do not lead us into temptation. Temptation arises because our desires are constantly looking for occasions to satisfy their lusts. Take a moment to consider the particular temptations that you often find yourself struggling with and how many times it is your desires that are seeking ways to be satisfied.
Even on the occasions when we encounter temptations unexpectedly, our desires are ready and eager to take full advantage of the sudden opportunity to satisfy their lusts. John Owen said that sin carries its war by entangling our desires and drawing them away. Thus, Owen said, denying sin must be chiefly directed on desire.
We must make sure our desires are directed toward glorifying God rather than satisfying the lusts of the sinful nature. Our reason, enlightened by the Spirit through Scripture, stands in the way of sin gaining mastery over us. Thus, Satan’s greatest strategy is to deceive our minds.
Principle three will show how sin can deceive our reason.
After this last post, I will conclude with a post that discusses how we can fight these desires and allow our reason to guide us (that is our reason directed by the Holy Spirit). This will certainly not be a “bulletproof” blue-print for holiness, but these principles helped my understanding and personal growth.
...Shaina Duncan, College Student
Editor of Revive and Awaken Blog