That feeling when you discover that you’ve been tricked!
This week we look at some of the reasons why people even with the best of intentions mess up so much. 

Sermon Helps

Q5. Can you live up to [Jesus’ command to love God & neighbour] perfectly?
A. No. I have a natural tendency to hate God and my neighbor. Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10, Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3

Q7. Then where does this corrupt human nature come from?
A. The fall and disobedience of our first parents, Adam and Eve, in Paradise. This fall has so poisoned our nature that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition. Gen. 3, Rom. 5:12, 18-19, Ps. 51:5 – Heidleberg Catechism

The Long Con Genesis 3:13 to Revelation 12:9; 20:10
Jesus changes us from being “foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures” (Titus 3:3). He tells us to put off our old self (the flesh, the law of sin in us), because it is “being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). And over and over when God warns us against sin, he cautions us to watch out for its treachery. In fact, you can write this down as a maxim: When the flesh deceives you, you will sin. – Kris Lundgaard

James 1:14–15 (NIV) but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

James lists what we can call five degrees of temptation:
(1) dragging away (the mind),
(2) enticing (the affections),
(3) conceiving sin (in the will),
(4) the birth of sin (in actions, words, thoughts, and so on),
(5) death by sin. (Enslavement to sin is spiritual death.)
The first degree relates to the mind—it is dragged away from its duties by the deceit of sin. The second aims at the affections—they are enticed and entangled. The third overcomes the will—the consent of the will is the conception of actual sin. The fourth degree disrupts our way of life as sin is born into it. The fifth is the flesh’s goal, a hardened life of sin, which leads to eternal death. This fifth degree, by God’s grace, is never reached in true believers. God also often aborts conceived sin in the believer’s life (the fourth degree), sparing us many burdens. But one means he uses to prevent our falling into sin is to warn us of the first three degrees. So we will meticulously lay them open to the light. – Kris Lundgaard

…Every evil proceeds from no other fountain than from the wicked lust of man. And the fact really is, that we are not otherwise led astray, except that every one has his own inclination as his leader and impeller. But that God tempts no one, he proves by this, because he is not tempted with evils. For it is the devil who allures us to sin, and for this reason, because he wholly burns with the mad lust of sinning. But God does not desire what is evil: he is not, therefore, the author of doing evil in us. When he is drawn away by his own lust. As the inclination and excitement to sin are inward, in vain does the sinner seek an excuse from an external impulse. At the same time these two effects of lust ought to be noticed—that it ensnares us by its allurements, and that it draws us away; each of which is sufficient to render us guilty. – John Calvin

There is such a thing as ‘the deceitfulness of sin’, and it’s very powerful. You start by allowing yourself the apparent luxury of doing something small which you know you shouldn’t but which you think doesn’t matter. When it becomes a habit, you stop thinking it’s wrong at all. If the question is raised, you are ready with rationalizations: everyone does it, this is the way the world is now, you mustn’t be legalistic, no good being a killjoy. This creates a platform for the next move: here’s something else which a while ago you would have shunned as certainly wrong, but it’s quite like the thing you’ve got used to, so maybe … And before too long you’re rationalizing that as well. And once the mind has been deceived, the habit will continue unchecked. – N.T. Wright

Recommended Resources:
The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin, Kris Lundgaard
The Mortification of Sin, John Owen
The Heidelberg Catechism, Part 1 (LD2-4)