From Merriam-Webster, temptation is “a strong urge or desire to have or do something”.
Temptation has been around for a long time- Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden by the serpent, resulting in the original sin (see Genesis chapter 3). It also will not be going away anytime soon, but will, in fact, get worse for many as Jesus says:
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. – Revelation 3:10 (KJV)
Is it sin?
Is it wrong to be tempted? No. Though it certainly feels wrong when we experience temptation, since it is a desire to do something we know we shouldn’t do, it is not sin to be tempted. Even Jesus was tempted (Mathew 4:1-11) and He was our perfect sacrifice that was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Therefore, it is impossible for temptation alone to be sinful.
Temptation can certainly lead to sin. When we give in to our desire and act on the temptation, then it becomes sin. Remember also that acting on temptation does not always mean that we do or say something; we can act on temptation by allowing ourselves to think certain thoughts.
However, some might believe that it might be sinful to constantly put yourself in a position where you know you will be tempted.
Where does it come from?
Something to take note of: God never tempts us with evil. We learn from James 1:12-15 that we are tempted when we are drawn away and enticed by evil things.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. – James 1:12-15 (KJV)
Actually, James spells it out as simple as 1-2-3:
- man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed
- Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin
- sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death
And who is the ultimate source of temptation? Satan. Read Acts chapter five abut Ananias and Sophia, and also Luke 22:3 and John 13:2.
What do can I do when I give in?
Repent and move on.
Realize that we all face temptation. And realize that we all give into temptation on occasion. It’s because we are human and our physical nature is in a constant struggle with the spiritual. When you struggle with sin, remember that you are in good company. The very person that wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, the Apostle Paul himself, struggled with sin. Just read Romans 7:18-25 to see his description of the struggle with the flesh.
We will never in this life reach a point when we are not tempted.
We will never in this life reach a point where we don’t sometimes give in to sin.
To feel guilty for sin and to feel guilty for being tempted are signs that you still care. When you no longer care, then it’s really time to worry.
What do I do to avoid temptation?
Following James’ sound reasoning, a good way to avoid sin is to not place ourselves in a situation where we would be tempted to sin. This might include not watching certain TV shows, not going to a friendly card game on Tuesdays, avoiding certain people, whatever.
In Mark 14:28, Jesus told the disciples in the garden, when they kept falling asleep, to “Stay awake and pray so that you won’t enter into temptation.” Jesus spent a lot of time alone in prayer (Matthew 14:23, 26:36-41, Mark 1:35, Luke 5:16, 6:12).
Jesus gives us some great advice in Mathew 5:29-30 when He says “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out…” and “…if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off”.
When we see a temptation, or a situation we know could turn into a temptation for us, we should flee (2 Timothy 2:22, Genesis 39:6-13).
When we do suffer temptation, always remember that God always provides an escape route (1 Corinthians 10:13). We must, however, be willing to take that route.
- Can temptations decrease over time? Increase?
- Are you less of a Christian if you suffer temptation?
- Are you less of a Christian if you often give into temptation?
- Should a Christian even try to resist temptation?
- Ever had a ‘temptation relapse’?
- What are some ways we can work through our temptations, and sins?
Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is… A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. –C.S. Lewis