13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
~ James 1:13-15
The New American Commentary defines epithumia (“evil desire” in James 1:14) as “deformed desire.”
Let that phrase settle on you for a minute.
You see, that’s what I had. Deformed desire. In my own pit-jumping (as opposed to pit-slipping), I often ended up doing exactly what I set out to do…what at that moment or in that season I thought I wanted to do…
I had thought of my heart as only sinful. I didn’t realize that deeper still, underneath that film of soil, my heart was sick. One of the most important shifts in my belief system began with the realization that I had a messed up “want to.” My desires were tremendously unhealthy. Self-destructive. In the language of the New American Commentary, I had “deformed desires.”
~ Beth Moore in Get Out of That Pit
Somehow that makes so much sense to me. “Evil” desires sort of sounds as if you just want to be bad, and I so often have good intentions, and think that this time I will do better….I really want to be good, but then before I know it— boom, there I am back in the pit, cursing myself for my weakness.
But “deformed?” …yeah, that’s more like it. I’m warped. I find myself doing things that I know perfectly well are not the best for me, simply because I want the fleeting enjoyment that it brings at that moment. Like eating several handfuls of M&Ms even when I know that unadulterated sugar makes me feel like something the cat dragged up and laid on the doorstep. Or like reading a good book or reading xanga sites , even when I know that I have work that must be done or I will be very sorry. And the guilt that it brings doesn’t always bring me back into line.
Yeah, that’s warped. I, like Beth, have a messed up “want to.”