Sin is a universal human problem. Most of us don't want to sin, but everyone does (Romans 3:23). The Apostle Paul expressed his frustration with sin: "For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do" (Romans 7:15).
Our attitudes and appetites tempt us to sin. James plainly states sin is generated through our human desires, because "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..." (James 1:14-15).
We capitulate to sin when inappropriate enticements are sufficiently appealing as the Apostle. Paul points out: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Romans 7:18).
Paul, however, did not mean every desire is evil. After God finished His creation, including Adam and Eve, He observed "everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). Nothing that God made is inherently evil. The way we direct, manage or control our appetites makes them good or evil. If we felt no hunger for food, we might die of starvation. But that same desire, when not properly controlled, can lead to overindulgence and gluttony.
Our challenge is to manage our desires, and to seek God’s help to direct them into legitimate channels. Paul admonishes us to "...make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Romans 13:14). Lust is nothing more than misdirected or improperly controlled desire, that breaks the principles of God's law, which defines the proper limits for our behaviour and thoughts (Romans 3:20).
Commandments forbidding us to steal or commit adultery place boundaries on our behaviour. The command not to covet places limits on how we think and control our desires. For example, taking your neighbour’s car without permission is stealing, and desiring to take your neighbour’s car without permission is coveting. But wanting to own a car like our neighbour’s is a legitimate desire, provided you plan to acquire it legally and responsibly.
The great manipulator is Satan and he can influence the way we think. He has successfully deceived the whole world (Revelation 12:9) and persuaded Eve to believe God had lied to her, forbidding her something that could give her understanding of good and evil, and making her as wise as God (Genesis 3:1-6). That is how human sin began and Satan even tried to entice Jesus (Matthew 4:1-10).
Peter admonishes us to resist Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9). The power to rule over our impulses and desires comes only through the Spirit of God. Paul admits he never attained perfection, but he gives us a perspective we should adopt: "...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).
The Good News Magazine