Temptation in itself is not considered a sin. Jesus was tempted (Mark 1:13; Luke 4:1-13) but He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). Sin happens only when a person yields to temptation. Martin Luther once said, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” Yielding to temptation usually starts in the mind (Romans 1:29; Mark 7:21-22; Matthew 5:28). When one yields to temptation, the fruits of the flesh are manifested instead of fruits of the spirit (Ephesians 5:9; Galatians 5:19-23).
The body is in constant struggle with sin: “For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me” (Romans 7:22-23). Therefore, we need to fight the good fight. “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…” (Ephesians 6:10-18).
It is Satan who tempts a person through his lies (John 8:44) and the lusts of the flesh. For this reason, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed” (James 1:13-14).
To avoid getting tempted, the believer must first guard the mind. The apostle Paul taught: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
The second step is to avoid places of sin and temptation. The Christian is to “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Timothy 2:22) as Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6-11). “Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:13-14) .
As long as a Christian doesn’t actually harbor the evil thoughts that the devil attacks him with, he is not sinning. And whenever he is tempted, he needs to “Resist the devil, and he will flee” from him (James 4:7). The Lord promises to provide a “way of escape” to all that seek Him (1 Corinthians 10:13).
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In His service,