Because I Wanted To- A Reflection on Why We Sin in James 1.14-15

November 18, 2008

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

There is always a question of why we choose to sin. Of particular interest I believe is the question of why believers, once they have experienced “the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3.5), still fall victims to sin? Granted, there are a few among us who hold to a heretical view of sinless perfectionism, but even those of an Arminian bent towards apostasy will still admit that believers sin as believers. But why?

The thing we should consider first is that, though we have been caused to be born again (1 Peter 1.3) we still exist in the flesh where sin dwells (Galatians 2.20, Romans 7.17-18), and thus it is necessary that we daily struggle to be made perfect like Christ (Romans 8.29, Philippians 3.12).

So then, why is it that we are not perfect? Why is it that we “do not do what [we] want, but [we] do the very thing[s we] hate” (Romans 7.15)? It is this which I think James perfectly explains in his words. We sin because, at some level, there is a part of us which has not been crucified with Christ, and this part we not only still have, but we still desire to fulfill it. Whether the particular vice is sexual immorality, greed, anger, or laziness, if there is still a part of our sin nature which we have not turned over to God, though it has been fully forgiven already, it will still give rise to a desire to commit sin. It is because of this that we must turn everything over to Christ, why we must practice taking up our cross daily and dying to self (Luke 9.23), so that those desires which lure us in like a fish on a hook will no longer have hold on our lives, no longer driving us to sin and away from God.