Cleaning House copyMetaphors dealing with birth and conception are frequent in Scriptures. Paul’s famous words come to mind, “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.” (NLT). Peter speaks of Ananias and Sapphira “conceiving” in their heart the deed of lying about their property.

James runs with this concept and develops an interesting picture when he says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15).

I call these verses the “conception of death” or the “reverse of birth.” The metaphor is clearly that of the reproductive process — from germination to conception to birth, only in this case the birth does not produce life but death. Strangely, a baby starts from nothing and ends with life; sin starts with everything and ends with nothing. That’s the anatomy of sin.

James is speaking of sin and the devastating impact it has on our lives. Whether physical death, like Ananias and Sapphira’s, or spiritual death, like Adam’s, and through him the whole human race, some kind of death always happens when we choose to sin.

But the choice to sin starts with lust in our hearts. At first, it is only that, an idea contrary to God’s Word, which is potent like a nuclear bomb but disguises itself like an innocent, even playful possibility.

But the arresting power of our mind can never be overlooked. If not extirpated from our system, that “innocent” desire will soon consume us. Like a little termite taking a lazy walk along the tresses of our house, if left alone, it will bring company, lots of them, and the ruin could be imminent.

Next, we move from idea to conception. The tiny little spec of life (death) begins to take shape. You can see the head, the hands, the feet. You feel it moving. The baby is growing inside of you, only this baby will not bring you joy but distress.

Lust conceives sin and gives birth to it. But like a real life baby, at birth a baby isn’t fully mature yet. It must go through its growth cycles until it is fully grown. And when it is fully mature, get ready for the big tsunami. “When sin is complete,” James says, “it brings forth death.” Sin is like the machines at Disney World that keep asking for more money — it’s insatiable and fastidious, always coming back for more.

David went through that very cycle when he decided to bring Bathsheba, a married woman, into his palace and had sex with her. But I guarantee you: David’s problems didn’t start when he saw a beautiful woman bathing on the roof of her house. He had left himself vulnerable to this kind of attack. He was lax in dispensing his duties as Head of State. He was being lazy and undisciplined. He was isolated. He may have felt he deserved a break. He dropped his guard. Heavens, he was almost looking for it.

David’s colossal moral failure spelled trouble in his life, family and kingdom for generations to come. There would be deaths by a thousand methods, estrangement, enmity, intrigue and much sadness upon the entire nation.

But it started with a thought, an “innocent” little thought that was allowed to grow and take control. Don’t let that happen to you, but if it already did, don’t despair. Join us in our next series to learn how we can go from prostration to restoration with God’s help through His Word.

In his warnings to his young son about the consequences of adultery, the author of Proverbs painted a picture of what his life could end up being like in the future: “… And you groan at your final end, when your flesh and your body are consumed; and you say, ‘How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof! I have not listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors! I was almost in utter ruin in the midst of the assembly and congregation.” (Proverbs 5:11-14).

Not a pretty picture, wouldn’t you agree?


Pastor Ivanildo da Costa Trindade

Lead Pastor, Grace Church, Lititz, PA