James 1:14b – 16 “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 led astray~|, my dear brothers and sisters.”
The self–deception for being led astray starts in the heart and mind. “Desire” is a neutral word that is translated as “lust, longing or craving” for something.
It is neutral because a good object or a sin could be equally desired. When sinful benefits and pleasures are allowed to become enticing and are not counterbalanced with any thought of consequences, we can easily be “led astray.”
To enhance the enticement, the mind engages in pleasurable or viral visualization of the sinful activity. Perhaps you have not seriously thought about taking action yet, but already the enticing desires have become more pleasurable than your reality, and God is seen as an obstacle to your enjoyment in life. Apathy begins. It seems private, harmless, and secret.
There are two symptoms of this phase of self-deception. The first is a growing discontent with any present situation, possessions, or relationship. Along with this growing unhappiness begins the thought that one deserves better. Mutual satisfaction decreases, arguments abound, and dislike grows.
The second phase is the attraction of “greener grass on the other side of the fence.” One begins to formulate “what-if” plans.
The third phase is the formulation of a plan to get away with fulfilling one’s desires at least occasionally. By the time an opportunity to be unfaithful or disloyal actually arises, the person has already deceived himself into believing that this sinful action is essential to happiness in life and that God’s way cannot provide this satisfaction. In fact, the person might blame God for his present problems. The self-deceived person feels he has to do it his way to be happy.
As this process continues, the fourth phase is inevitable: regardless of the consequences, warnings, or hurts to others, selfish desires bring forth a violation of God’s commands and horrible consequences. No one can escape them. Sin is never fulfilling. Tempting thoughts will always come, but we are not forced to follow them. God’s way is always best.
“Lord, why is it so easy for me to believe that I need ‘stuff’ or pleasures at any cost or that I can only be satisfied if I secretly sin? I am so unlike You, Lord. Teach me to despise sin and to trust Your word as my guide always.”