What exactly is this power that makes people slaves to sin, moving them to do things that are so destructive to human relationships?
The Apostle James, the half-brother of Jesus, helps us understand:
Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14-15)
What is this overwhelming power or influence that propels us into sin? Clearly, it is our own natural desires that seek to be satisfied. Take a simple example like hunger, not the hunger of someone starving, but the hunger arising from our own natural desire. There is nothing inherently evil about this desire. Yet, what if the food with which you seek to satisfy your hunger belongs to someone else? How easy it is to rationalize why it would be okay to quietly take the desired item from a store or your neighbour’s tree or a farmer’s field. Once freed from moral constraint, we quickly work out a plan. This gives birth finally to the act of theft.
If we continue in this behaviour, when it becomes a habit or way of living, we become a thief deserving of punishment.
You can develop for yourself scenarios that depict how human desire so easily gives birth to sexual immorality, adultery, murder, slander and similar acts that bring great harm to others, and ultimately to ourselves. The Apostle John breaks down our inner desires into three types:
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you… For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for ever ything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)
Consider the truth of this statement in your own personal life. The consistent Biblical view is that this world is ruled by human desires gone wrong. The Apostle Paul describes the situation as a struggle for loyalty between God’s will and desires (“the Spirit”) on the one hand, and our human will and desires (“the flesh”) on the other:
For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:17)
The picture is of two enemies striving against each other for the loyalty and obedience of humankind. It is the will of God against the desires of our flesh:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit… For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-9)