At a particular church, I preached a series on the Spirit-filled life and noticed a lady who was listening intently. One night after the service, she spoke with me and mentioned being blessed by the truth. However, she also added that during the day, the actions of another driver had threatened to trigger in her a measure of road rage, and now she was feeling like she stepped out of blessing because of it. I reminded her that temptation itself is not sin. This sparked her interest and after a discussion she left relieved and free.
Is temptation sin? It can’t be for at least two scriptural reasons. First, we read of Jesus, in His humanity, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Jesus felt our infirmities and was actually tempted, yet without sin. Therefore, temptation itself cannot be sin.
Second, Jesus said, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). This wording indicates that temptation itself is not sin. Sin occurs only if we enter into temptation. That we are tempted is out of our control. Entering or rejecting temptation is within our responsibility.
Temptation is not sin. Praise the Lord for that because that is out of our control! But what should we do to keep from entering into temptation? The very Jesus who was tempted on earth yet without sin lives in you as a believer. Thanks be unto God who is giving us the victory—Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57). So, take what God is giving—the victorious life Himself. As you take the provision of Jesus and act with confidence in Him, the Spirit imparts to you the victorious life of Jesus. This applies to both Christ in you to overcome the world and flesh temptations and you in Christ to overrule temptations directly from the enemy.
John Van Gelderen