There is a very clear Cycle of Temptation laid out in the Book of James. It is presented as the cycle of how temptation is formed just as life is conceived, birthed and formed. James, an apostle, wrote:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But 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 1:13-15)
The first thing James clears out of the way is that God is not doing the tempting nor can be tempted. (v.13)
Then James presents the Four Steps of Temptation:
First, a person is Lured and Enticed- we are tempted and stimulated in some way toward sin. (v.14)
John Owen (1616-1683) theologian and academic wrote on this verse: “Do not flatter yourself that you can hold out. There are secret lusts that lie dormant, lurking in your hearts, temporarily quiet, waiting for the opportunity of temptation to befall you. They will then rise, argue, cry, disquiet, seduce, with perseverance, until either they are killed or satisfied.” I think most of us know about that.
Secondly, Conception Takes Place- the pregnancy of sin begins. (‘Everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” (John 8:34)
Thirdly, Sin is Born- it originates in our thinking, desires and will… in our heart. We think we can always figure out a way to justify sin.
Lastly, Sin is Fully Grown- ‘when it is fully grown brings forth death.’ This is spiritual death and perhaps physical death (see James 5:14-16).
“Lead us not into temptation.” Jesus