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Rise mightily against the first actings of thy distemper, its first conceptions; suffer it not to get the least ground. Do not say, “Thus far it shall go, and no farther.” If it have allowance for one step, it will take another.
- Sin in our actions begins as sin our hearts:
20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
Mark 7:20–23 (ESV)
Thus, sin first begins in our thoughts and affections, it is an idea and desire before it ever becomes an action. Read James 1:14-15: What are the steps there listed for the beginning of sin?
Read Genesis 3:6: What takes place in Eve before she takes the fruit?
What about sins which seem to spring up spontaneously without any precursor, such a rage of anger: in what ways do such sins have start? Consider a recent experience of anger: What thoughts and desires had to be in place for anger to be possible? How would an increase in humility, pity, love have altered your heart in such a way that anger would not have been expressed? By way of comparison — consider other sins which you see others commit but you do follow in yourself. What is different your thoughts and affections that lead you to not following in that sin?
- We must stop sin at first actings.
It is impossible to fix bounds to sin. It is like water in a channel,—if it once break out, it will have its course. Its not acting is easier to be compassed than its bounding. Therefore doth James give that gradation and process of lust, chap. 1:14, 15, that we may stop at the entrance.