What does James 1:15 mean?
ESV: Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
NIV: Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
NASB: Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death.
CSB: Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.
NLT: These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
KJV: Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
NKJV: Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, James made it clear that temptation to sin always comes from within ourselves. It's never God's fault. No matter how terrible our circumstances are, the desire to sin is still ours. We are tempting ourselves to sin. God provides trials and ordeals as a way to "exercise" our faith, in order to make it stronger. The lure of giving up, sinning, and defying God is not the purpose of His will.

Here James warns us of the consequence of giving into our desire, which is falling into sin. When we say "yes" to the desire to do what we want, instead of trusting God and obeying Him, sin is born. Then sin grows up and produces death.

Sin always leads to death. For those who are not in Christ—who have not accepted God's free gift of forgiveness of sin, who have not been born again to a new life—that death is permanent and eternal. But even for Christians, sin brings deadly consequences. Later in this letter James will write that when Christians succeed in turning each other back from sin, they save each other from death (James 5:19–20).
Verse Context:
James 1:2–18 begins with a challenging command for Christians. We are to classify hard things in their lives as ''joyful,'' because those ordeals help us develop a deeper trust in God. Christians who trust God also seek wisdom from Him—and not from ungodly sources. We continue to trust Him through difficult experiences, in part, to receive the crown of life promised to those who don't stop. We don't blame Him for our desire to sin, but we do credit Him for every good thing in our lives.
Chapter Summary:
How important is it for Christians to trust God? It's so important, James writes, that we should call our worst moments joyful things, because trials help us trust God more. People who trust God ask Him for wisdom—and then take what He gives. People who trust God make a bigger deal about their rewards in the next life than their wealth in this one. People who trust God don't blame Him for their desire to sin; they give Him credit for all that is good in their lives. They look into His Word, and they act on what they see there.
Chapter Context:
This first chapter in the book of James sets the course for the rest of his letter to Christians worldwide. God wants us to trust Him more, and more deeply, as we learn more of Him. This is so important to God that He calls on us to find joy, even in hard times, because hardship helps us trust God more. Those who really trust God will ask Him for wisdom, will be excited about their status in eternity, will recognize Him as the source of all good in their lives, and will work to act on what they find in His Word.
Book Summary:
The book of James is about specifically understanding what saving faith looks like. How does faith in Christ reveal itself in a believer's life? What choices does real trust in God lead us to make? Those are the questions James answers. Most scholars believe the writer was Jesus' half-brother, a son born to Joseph and Mary after Jesus' birth. James may not have come to believe Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection. Eventually, though, he became one of the leaders of the Christian church in Jerusalem. This is possibly the earliest-written of all the New Testament books, around AD 40–50. James addresses his letter to Jewish Christians scattered around the known world.
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