Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Temptation Is Not Sin

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Notice that he says in verse 11 that such were some of you.  The Corinthians once were these people.  They once were living in sin but now through Christ Jesus, they had been saved (1 Corinthians 1:18-25) and the Lord was in the process of making them holy (Hebrews 10:14).  If you read 1 Corinthians, this was by far a perfect church.  They still had their struggles including one man have an adulterous relationship with his step-mother (1 Corinthians 5).  The Corinthians were a divided church (1 Corinthians 1:11-13).  The Corinthians were a church that even had drunkenness at their love feasts (1 Corinthians 11:21).  This was by far a perfect church (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) and yet Paul called them saints in 1 Corinthians 1:2.  They were being made holy.

Sanctification is not always an instant process.  My father was a smoker before he was saved in 1952.  He instantly stopped smoking.  He stopped cursing.  He became what 2 Corinthians 5:17 describes.  Yet my father was far from perfect and I saw his imperfections up close as a boy and now as an adult.  I praise God that my daddy is saved but he is not perfect.  None of us are.  Our aim, however, must be to become more like Christ.  We should not become stagnate in our passion to be holy.  My desire is to be just like Jesus (1 John 2:6).  I want to be able to say, like Paul, imitate me as I imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

For others, sanctification is a hard road.  Some struggle with smoking or drinking before salvation and after salvation are still (and sometimes more so) tempted to go back to those ways.  Some just give in and claim this is how they are.  Some fight with their own will power but they lose the battle.  It is this way with many men I know over sexual sins.  Before salvation, they gave into their sinful desires to please their sexual desires but after salvation, they now hate sin but still face daily temptation to sin.

Here is the key: temptation is not a sin.  We must see this.  If you struggle with sexual sins, drugs, lying, gossip, idolatry, etc., the temptation to do these things is not a sin.  We all face temptations.  1 Corinthians 10:13 promises us:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Call me naive but I believe this verse.  I believe that every sin can be avoided if we look to the promise here.  God is faithful, He is able to deliver us.  Ponder this for a moment: the last time you sinned, who made you sin?  You did!  We choose to sin. We choose to give in to our flesh.  We are faced with temptation and we give in.  God doesn’t make us and in fact, He often is convicting our conscience to not sin, to run from the sin (1 Corinthians 6:18).  The Holy Spirit comes and He convicts us of sin (John 16:8) yet at times, we all have rebelled against His warning and sinned.  What do we feel after sinning?  Shame.  Remorse.  Failure.  Weeping.  Just like King David in Psalm 51, we hate our sins and we confess them to God.  Amazingly, God is merciful and kind toward us and He does not send us to hell as we deserve the moment we rebel but instead He lovingly convicts and restores just as He did with David through Nathan the prophet (see 2 Samuel 12:1-14).

The pursuit of holiness is not always an easy road.  I have been a disciple of Jesus for over 20 years.  I still face temptation sometimes on a daily basis.  Temptation is not sinful but when I give in to that sin, that is sinful.  The hope for us all is that Jesus Christ is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Our salvation is focused entirely upon Him and He is more than able to deliver us from sin.  1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”  Notice what the command is here to being cleansed from sin: to walk in the light.  We walk in the light by walking according to the teachings of Jesus, by focusing entirely upon what Jesus has done for our salvation.  This is our hope for redemption both initially when we repent and all through our life as His disciple.

In closing, I don’t begin to try to say that I am a perfect man.  Far from it.  I am a fallen man like all of you are fallen humans as well.  My wife can surely testify to my sins.  Yet I pray that we all see that God can help us overcome.  This is the miracle of salvation, that God actually does save us from sin and its power (Romans 6:1-12).  Galatians 5:16-17 describes our battle with our flesh in terms of a war.  This is just what it is.  We are at war with Satan and with our flesh but we have a mighty God on our side (Romans 8:31).  We can overcome!  The grace of God is our strength (Titus 2:11-12 NIV).  I pray that today this post will not condemn you in your sins but you’ll see that there is hope in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1-4).  Jesus can deliver us from sin and He can help us to be the holy people of God that God calls for us to be (1 Peter 1:15-16).  I pray that you’ll look evermore to Him for strength (2 Peter 3:17-18).

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