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.
I have a son named Sin. He is a fully grown man and brings me great sorrow.
He is a smooth talker and always has been. He promises me that if anyone ever threatens me, he will take care of it. He talks about the gifts and provisions he’s planning to bring by. He paints these pictures of laughter and celebration that we’ll enjoy together the next time he comes. But it never turns out that way. He just continues to break my heart.
Before he was born, I was a dancer. I was strong and happy, dancing my way through life. At age eighteen, I was invited to be part of the American Ballet Theater and star in a number of their productions. I was overcome with joy! All of my dreams were coming true, and from that stage, I drank from the richness of life.
Then one night, something stirred inside of me. The enchanted smile of the man across the table—his eyes flickering in the candlelight—awakened in me something I didn’t know was there. Desire.
He had been flirting with me for weeks now, causing butterflies to float across my heart. The longer I gazed at him, the more the desire grew. When his hand brushed against mine, something inside me gave way.
That night, Sin was conceived. I never saw his father again.
I told everyone that this had happened to me. That I was forced against my will. How else could I explain the shame of having to back out of the ballet? It made no sense to my family or friends; least of all to me. In agony I turned to God and demanded to know why He would allow this to happen. Why would be put me in a position to lose everything—all of my hopes and dreams in one fell swoop?
Determined to handle this on my own, I got a job waiting tables and worked long hours, just to pay for rent and food. Over those nine months, all of my dreams, relationships, plans, savings, and joy quietly dwindled. The only thing that grew was my belly to make room for Sin.
The day he was born was an awful day for me. The sorrow was as excruciating as the pain. When I looked into Sin’s eyes, I instantly saw his father, which chilled my heart. I had longed to be a mother, but not like this. Not isolated from God and my family. Not clouded with my own shame and disappointments.
I did my best to raise Sin. He was a difficult child and an even more difficult teenager. He was demanding, manipulative, and self-focused. My whole life revolved around trying to keep him satisfied and appeasing his selfish outbursts, then paying whatever fine or penalty he had created for me.
Sin has ruled my life from the day he was conceived. As a man, he now blames me for his life, constantly berating and shaming me for the ways I have fallen short. There is no joy in being his mother. I feel detached from him, yet also like I’ll never be free.
Just today, he flew into a rage because I have no more money in my account to give him. In his anger he sneered at me and threatened to kill me. From the look in his eyes, I have no doubt that someday he will.
It’s ironic that it was desire I gave way to, that night in the flickering candlelight, for I never desired all of this. I never imagined the cost. I never anticipated what I was giving away. I never considered what Sin would do to me.
Oh, to be a dancer, free and strong, who is able to say "no" to my own desire.
The Allegory of Sin
First, let me state emphatically that this story is an allegory about sin, not a commentary on motherhood or the worth and dignity of babies, created in God’s image.
Also, I am not this story’s original author. James, the brother of Jesus, is. It’s found in James 1:13–15:
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 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’ point in sharing this allegory is to depict sin as what it truly is: deadly. There are three lessons James wants us to see.
- Sin is born out of our desire, not God’s. God never tempts His people to sin. He gives us trials, yes. But He offers these trials as opportunities to perfect our faith and practice steadfastness, which will be rewarded (James 1:2–3, 12). God presents us with difficulties and obstacles the same way a coach presents his team with new challenges and drills. He wants us to win! He rejoices over our faith when we overcome.
- When we cave into sin, we’re caving into ourselves. The desire for sin is a curse, and we all live under it. But caving into the desire that exists in every one of us is utterly foolish.
In the same way a girl might wisely guard her purity by refusing to spend the night at her boyfriend’s house, we must each refuse to put ourselves in situations in which our own desires awaken—sexual or otherwise. For this is how sin is conceived.
- Sin looks appealing, but it is deadly. From the very beginning, God warned against the deadliness of sin, saying, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden . . . lest you die” (Gen. 3:3). But Adam and Eve did eat, and death entered our world. When they saw Abel’s blood soaking into the earth, surely they felt sick with the realization of sin’s horrific consequences.
Think about the vigilance we use to avoid things like smoking and radiation, which cause cancer. Consider also the way we poison or burn cancer when it is detected. This is the sort of vigilance we must have toward the sin which grows inside of us. For James says, “Sin when it is fully grown brings death” (1:15).
Thankfully, God sent Jesus to free us from sin and death. But those who are free should live in the light, not turn back to the shadows of sinful desire.
Father of Lights
When God first warned Adam about sin and death, He began by saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden” (Gen. 2:16). God is the lavish Giver of good gifts, which He designed for us to eat and fill ourselves with and enjoy. James says:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (1:17).
Sin always presents itself as a good gift, when the flickering candlelight of desire casts its shadows. But the next morning when you pull the curtain back and daylight reveals the costly consequences you must now bear, sin begins its withering work.
God’s gifts, however, look just as good in broad daylight the “morning after” as they did the night before.
Sex within marriage.
A healthy meal.
Rest on the Sabbath after a week of work.
Time spent in God’s Word.
Each time we choose God’s gifts rather than caving into the temptation of our own desires, we choose to dance—strong and healthy, as we drink the richness of life.