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The 3 Steps to Sin

I teach a WTB live event called Understanding The Love of Your Life. It identifies personality types to help couples understand themselves and each other better. One personality type often has new ideas. I ask those who have spouses who are dreamers, with lots of ideas, to raise their hands. I tell them, “The constant flow of new ideas may tire you out, but don’t let it. Next time you hear a new idea say, ‘That’s nice’ and then forget about it. It’s likely your spouse will have another new idea tomorrow and forget about the last one, too.”

ideas - steps to sin

Do you ever wonder where new ideas come from? Today I want to talk about a narrow aspect of this broad and fascinating subject. We are going to look into the question, “Where does the idea to sin come from?”

Sin doesn’t just happen in a vacuum. There’s a process that occurs each time we sin. We all know from experience that temptation comes before sin. But where does temptation come from? James 1:14-15 gives us the answer, the steps to sin.

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. ESV

Just like sin doesn’t happen out of the blue, neither does temptation. Before we’re tempted we have a desire. When we make that desire our own, it becomes a temptation. Here are the steps to sin James lays out for us.

The 3 Steps to Sin

  1. You have a desire.
  2. You make it your own and it becomes a temptation.
  3. You sin.

Let me illustrate how this works. I regularly get junk mail, advertisements for things like furniture, financial planning and lawn care, etc. I don’t even open most of them and those end up in the trash. But some catch my eye. I see a coupon for 50% off dinner for two at a restaurant. Hmm? I’m interested so I keep that coupon. My wife Margaret comes home and I tell her about the coupon. We go there for dinner.

These are like the steps to sin that happen to all of us. Let’s say something happens and a desire to get angry pops into your mind. You have a choice. You can reject it outright or accept it. When you accept it you still haven’t sinned. But now you’re tempted. You’re thinking of things to do to express your anger, verbally lash out or become abusive. When we do the wrong thing it’s sin.

The idea to sin comes from evil desires! However, James doesn’t tell us where evil desires come from. We’ll learn the source of evil desires in our next post.

Today think about the desires floating into your mind. When you recognize an evil desire, turn from it to God. Ask Him to help you not to sin! 1 Corinthians 10:31 You have a choice! You don’t have to follow the steps to sin.

What helps you to recognize evil desires? What have you learned to help you stop before you sin? Please share a comment or question below.

  • Thank you for meaningful post, I read them every day.

    It’s what I’ve learn today:
    1. Seeing a coupon is a desire.
    2. Keeping it, is making it my own
    3. Going for a dinner with my wife, is a sin.
    You know, I’m joking. I love both of you, missing you very much.
    Ward, keep posting yours very interesting thoughts.

    • Ah, Henryk, what a joy to hear from you and to see you understand the application of my teaching! 🙂 We love you and your dear wife and miss you, too!

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    Ward Cushman

    My journey of faith started when I was nine years old when I realized that Jesus died and rose again to pay for my sins. At the age of thirteen I felt the call of God on my life for ministry.

    I have been fortunate to work in the marketplace for over ten years and in full-time Christian ministry for over thirty years.

    My passion is to teach God's Word in such a way that it is easy to understand and so that God uses it to bring about life change in those who hear it.

    It is my greatest joy to see God work through me to produce fruit for His glory!