Recently our family experienced something that illustrates the growth and entrapment of sin in our lives. For years and years tree roots were growing under the ground, growing ever closer to the outgoing sewer pipe of our house. No one living in this house over the years knew what was taking place, it was all incognito. But then that fateful Saturday came when the water would not go down and the sewer started to come back. With some investigation it became clear that roots had grown into the pipes and the pipe had to be replaced to restore service.

This illustrates the nature of sin’s growth in our lives through temptation that is not resisted. Consider what James says:

But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.  15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death (James 1:14-15).

Exactly what is going on when temptation strikes?  When James says that “each one is tempted when…” it implies temptation to sin is a common aspect of life as a human in this fallen world. This passage teaches about temptation in generational terms. In the first generation temptation has to do with our lusts or sinful desires by which we are “carried away and enticed.” Both words have the picture of hunting or fishing. Just like a fish is lured by the bait on a hook during temptation we are “carried away and enticed by our own lusts.” The second generation of temptation is when lust conceives. Temptations will always abound while we are on this earth. However, just feeling the pull of inappropriate desire is not giving into that temptation. At that moment we must act. Either we will shun that evil desire or we will say yes and let it take root in our hearts. It is at this point that lust “gives birth to sin.” The third generation of temptation is the ultimate result of sin that is not repented of: Death. (“When sin is accomplished it brings forth death”). [1] This third generation is dealing with a “mature” sin. When sin is “accomplished” or “brought to completion.” So the first generation of temptation is grandmother lust. The second generation of temptation is mother sin. The third and final generation of temptation is daughter death.[2]

The nature of temptation is that we are being drawn away by our own illegitimate desires and the result that lust conceives and gives birth to sin. This is the kind of thing that suddenly happens and a major moral failure comes to light in the life of someone that no one would have suspected this from. That person was being lured away by their desires to sin and their desires gave birth to sin. All of this happens as someone’s life continues seemingly unaffected. But if this sin from a heart of sin is not remedied that sin ultimately empties out into an eternity of death: Separation from God for eternity bearing the punishment due for a heart set against God.

Our lives are like our house. Our desires are like the pipe leaving the house. If our desires are not conformed to God’s ways and there is leakage from the pipe there is a drawing that takes place and the roots come. It may take years for anything to be known, but eventually the service will stop and everything will come to light. All of this is often very unnoticeable. It involves a choice here a priority there. A neglect here and a infatuation there.

One thing that we learned through the discovery of our pipe problem was that often to diagnose the problem a company will come and put a camera into the pipe from the house to the road to discover the place and extent of the pipe’s break or root penetration. Thankfully if you are a follower of Jesus, God’s Word is like that discovery camera that examines where your desires have gone wrong and where the breach is and God is well able to restore you to fellowship with Him. On the other hand, if you have never truly turned from your sin, you do not need a repair in your desires, you need a new pipe. You need a new heart. And if you will acknowledge that Jesus came to live and die and rise again as your substitute to provide atonement for your sin and if you will personally trust in Jesus who did this for you by truly turning away from your sin and to Him, you will be saved. And this is what God will do for you: “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (Ezekiel 36:27).

What is going on under your yard (in your heart) that no one else notices? God notices and Jesus is the solution.


[1] That is physical death, spiritual death, and eternal death.

[2] This generational illustration of temptation is effectively presented by Hiebert in his commentary on James (see page 95).