James 1:14 – “but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
All three of our spiritual enemies — our own sin/carnal man, Satan, and the world — work together to hurt and destroy our souls. Now, Satan and the world cannot make us sin — that’s our own, but they do certainly entice, and then as the verse says, we are dragged away by our own evil desires. I believe this dragging away can also include how much the things of the world distract us from the things of God; and put in favor of God, even in our hearts and minds, they can become idols in our lives.
Puritan Thomas Manton in his most excellent work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James” cautions us to be careful of things that please the senses, as they can play a part in bringing us to sin.
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Thomas Manton – James Commentary
From Thomas Manton:
Neither is this only meant of sensual [things pleasing the senses, not just sexual] wickedness, such as is conversant about meats, drinks, and carnal comforts; but spiritual, as envy, malice, griping plots to undo and oppress others. “They rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked” (Prov. ii. 14). Revenge is sweet, oppression is sweet, to a carnal heart: so “It is a sport to a fool to do mischief” (Prov. x. 23): they are enticed with a kind of pleasure of that which is mischievous to another. Well then,
1. Learn to suspect things that are too delightful: carnal objects tickle much, and beget an evil delight, and so fasten upon the soul. It is time to “put a knife to the throat,” when you begin to be tickled with the sweets of the world. Your foot is in the snare, when the world cometh in upon you with too much delight.
That which you should look after in the creatures, is their usefulness, not their pleasantness: that is the bait of lust [any corrupt desire]. The philosopher could say, that natural desires are properly “to what is necessary.” Solomon said, “Look not upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself right” (Prov. xxiii. 31).
You need not create allurements to your fancy, and by the eye invite the taste. There are stories of heathens, that would not look upon excellent beauties, lest they should be ensnared. Pleasures are but enticements, baits that have hooks under them. The harlot’s lips drop honey in the greeting, and wormwood in the parting (Prov. vii.); like John’s book, honey in the mouth and wormwood in the bowels. God has made man of such a nature, that all carnal delights leave impressions of sorrow at their departure.
2. Learn what need there is of great care: pleasure is one of the baits of lust [corrupt desire]. The truth is, all sins are rooted in love of pleasure; therefore be watchful: noon-day evils are most dangerous, and such things do us most mischief as betray us with smiles and kisses.
Heathens were out that advised to pleasures, that by experience we might be weaned from them; as Tully said of youth, by use of pleasures let us learn to disdain them, as the desires are deadened and flattened to an accustomed object. But alas, this is the bait of lust, rather than the cure. Poor souls, they did not know a more excellent way! It is true, some curiosity is satisfied by experience; but, however, the spirit grows more sottish and sensual [run by pleasing the senses].
Wicked men, when once they are taken in that snare, are in a most sad condition, and think that they can never have enough of sensual pleasures [those aimed at the senses], all delight seems to them too short; as one wished for a crane’s neck, that he might have the longer relish of meats and drinks; and Tacitus spoke of another glutton, that though he could satisfiy his stomach, yet not his fancy or lust; his womb was sooner filled than his eye.
May God grant us the desire and the help to be very careful about the things of this world that please the senses, including how much affection we have for and time we spend with them, and may He grant our hearts and minds be focused more and more each day on the Lord Christ Jesus and on the things above!