Is Being Tempted Sin?
By Eli Stutzman
January 1, 2010
One dictionary says temptation is "Pressure applied to your thinking designed to create wrong emotions which will eventually lead to wrong actions."
Back in the late sixties I thought it would be cool to smoke. I was old enough to know that many smokers got hooked and could not free themselves. Nevertheless, I would light up after work and puff away while I headed for home. This went on for a week or so until my second pack of cigarettes ran out. I thought maybe I will buy some next time I go to a store. Or maybe I wasn't thinking. However, I had a craving that demanded attention. I was surprised to discover how quickly nicotine could become a crutch. One thing I was certain of; I didn't want to be a slave to tobacco. No sir, no way I said to myself. I am not a smoker and never intend to be. There are a few areas of my life I am not proud of, and this is only one. But I learned from it.
After God had created the heavens and earth, he gave the man only one commandment and that was soon broken. It would seem so easy to avoid the tree in the center of the garden, but temptation was there long before the transgression. The serpent had Eve consider all the good reasons to eat of the fruit.
Genisis 3;6 says, And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
I am certain of this; God was not taken by surprise when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. It seems obvious if man could be tempted he would eventually fail. As a result, all mankind would need to be redeemed. The rest of the story is familiar; Eve ate and gave some to Adam who also ate. The fruit indeed did what it was said to do, it opened their eyes to recognize right from wrong. To this very day we often hear people say, "That is just wrong". How do you know right from wrong? Even if someone does something new and different that offends us, we still sense wrong. The knowledge of good and evil dwells inside all of us to this very day. But the instinct is not totally dependable.
There is also the story of Joseph in the house of Potiphar recorded in Genesis 39:6-8. Here is a part of the three verses; And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favoured. And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me. But he refused...
It seems obvious no sin was committed by being tempted. However, all of us have failed and also have succeeded at one time or another. If we resist temptation and win, it brings glory to God and blessing to us. How shall we then fight temptation and win? Joseph seems to have been aware of his destiny if he served his God. He probably didn't realize how important a task lay ahead . He just sensed who he was. His great-grandfather Abraham had a promise yet unfulfilled and he was in the line of descendents.
Likewise when we are called to resist temptation, we need to know who we are. There are also extremely important callings in this generation. Whether we are victorious may well depend on our knowledge of who we are in Christ. Notice that God only allows temptations that we can stand against. As well, He makes a way of escape. See 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. God wants us to win! Losing does not serve his purposes.
What is the purpose of God allowing temptation? It seems that if we were never tempted, then we would live a life free from struggle against sin. Temptation, by itself, is not sin. Jesus was tempted; however, He was without sin. Temptation only becomes sin when we give into the temptation.
Even in the perfect world Adam and Eve inherited before the fall, temptation was present. "Consider what this fruit will do for you", the serpent said. At this time no sin had been committed.
I suppose we would ask, "Why have a tree that you cannot touch?" Just remove it and I won't be tempted. However, it seems there was real purpose in having this tree in the newly-created garden. If the man Adam could not make wrong choices, then he could not make any choices. Freedom includes the ability to make choices, good or bad. I knew I was not a smoker and I said so.
My prayer for you is that you may be victorious in facing temptation. Find out how high your calling is. It's all there in the Bible.
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