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 ESV
(For those who missed part one, read that one first, since this is part two of that post.)
A few thoughts in summary:
- Even as believers, we have desires inside our hearts, some of which are godly and some of which are not. We can stop condemning ourselves for having them (Romans 8:1). It’s simply part of life in a fallen world.
- Our temptations and impulses do not define us as believers in Christ. Only our Creator has the right to do that. What defines our road to recovery isn’t the reduction of our impulses and temptations in their frequency or intensity, but whether we are seeking to surrender our will and our lives more fully to Christ today than yesterday. This is the essence of participating with God in our sanctification (see Philippians 2:12-13).
- We can let ourselves off the hook that our temptations, impulses and evil desires somehow prove we are beyond redemption. They do evidence our need for a Savior, that much is for sure. But for the believer who’s been redeemed by Christ, the ongoing presence of a sinful impulse isn’t proof that we’ve sinned and are living outside of God’s will. Rather, it’s simply evidence of our need to surrender our desires daily to Christ, seeking His strength in the midst of our weakness (2 Corinthians 2:9). At our core identity, we are redeemed sons and daughters of God, in spite of our ongoing struggles and temptations this side of Heaven.
In places where we are acting in sin, we need to practice confession, repentance and restitution to get back on the path towards our Heavenly Father. There is no shortcut here. However, there’s complete forgiveness and real freedom in moving out from the shadows and back into the light of His mercy and grace.
But let’s stop condemning ourselves for the temptations and impulses towards our besetting sins when the Bible presumes that we may, more often than not, continue to contend with them this side of Heaven (Hebrews 12:1; see also 1 Corinthians 10:13, Hebrews 4:15).
If you’ve put your faith in Christ, you are no longer defined by your temptations and your impulses, no matter how often or intensely they occur.
What is your real identity?
You are a child of the living God.