Because our behaviour is the visible expression of sin, we often think that our deeds and words are where sin starts. After the sinful deed, there are often terrible consequences, and once again, we look back and identify the original sinful behaviour as the start of it all. This has led many to blame their sinful behaviour on the prior sinful behaviour of others. It has also led many to think that if you can put a radical end to the sinful action, that future temptation will be thwarted successfully.

However, every sinful deed has a backstory. The sinful deed might be the start of the consequences, but the sinful deed is also in some ways the consequence of some other preceding events. No sinful deed just sprung out by itself. Even if we commit certain sinful deeds instinctively, there are still prior events that take place every time. Scriptures explains it to us using the metaphor of conceiving, giving birth, and growing up.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 1:15 (ESV)

Every sinful deed is in reality the middle of the sinful process. Every sinful deed has consequences, but every sinful deed also has a backstory.

For example, take the sinful deed of an outburst of anger. It never comes from nowhere. Outbursts of anger are the eventual “birthing” of a desire that was conceived long before already. It might have been a desire to get your way, or a desire to speak your mind, or a desire to prove yourself right. If no preventative measures are taken in the privacy of one’s heart, these desires soon “conceive” a hidden sinful disposition. When the right time comes, and the opportunity is there, it “births” an outburst of anger. That it turn always “grows” into a host of destructive consequences. The final result of sin is always “death” (Rom 6:23).

The same pattern of “desire conceiving sin growing until death” is the full story of every sin we commit in deed or in word. Fight sin, but not merely at the middle stage. Fight sin from the very start already. Desire better things. Stop desiring lesser things. Seek not to gratify your desires, but seek to do the will of the Lord.