Sin is a Suggestion—False Concept 4
Temptation is a universal problem. It is not confined to continents, races or economic classes. Temptation has many faces. It spans the scale from the subtle to the blatant, and seems to have an uncanny knowledge of our susceptibilities. Biblical accounts of temptation range from the well-known flight of Joseph from the seductive advances a Potiphar’s wife to the crashing downfall of David with Bathsheba. Compare these to the person who says, “I never have a problem with temptation—I just always give in!”
There are a great number of people who assume that the battery of temptations entering their minds are solicitations of the devil, and their desire to comply emanates from their “sinful nature.” This is a common but serious error. God designed human beings replete with many astonishing endowments. Some of these attributes, our emotions, enable us to sense, feel and respond to the thoughts in our mind. Eve’s desire for the fruit which her mind perceived as being “a delight” was not a product of any sinful nature. Nor was her desire for further knowledge wrong in itself. There is no necessity of a sinful nature in order to be subject to temptation. Gordon Olson has given what I consider to be one of the finest definitions of sin:
Sin is an unintelligent abuse of God-given endowments of personality. Gordon C. Olson, Sharing Your Faith, Bible Research Fellowship, Inc., chap. 3, p. 4.
With this definition in mind, let us remember that it is God who has made us the way we are. It is God who has created appetites and desires within us. It is God who formed our emotions to respond to what our minds contemplate. There is no sin in desiring to fulfill or gratify a God-given appetite. Sin enters the picture when we abuse our endowments by trying to gratify ourselves in an illegal manner or proportion.
Thoughts should not be classified as sin either. It was necessary for Jesus to have comprehended the words of the devil in order for it to have been a legitimate temptation.
Again, things cannot be evil and sinful for they are the product of God.
All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. John 1:3
If we respond to temptation by treating it as though it were sin or indicative of sin, then we are forced into the uncomfortable position of considering Jesus an ally in sin since He too was subject to temptation. A suggestion or temptation is not in itself sinful. Things in themselves are not sinful, for sin manifests itself in unintelligent abuse of an otherwise good thing.
This is especially critical for those who have been suffering under an unnecessary load of condemnation because they have been tempted. When confronted with a strong desire, it is essential to take hold of the thought and give it a long, analytical look. Then ask yourself if it is possible to wisely gratify that desire. Remember, God does not disapprove of pleasure associated with gratification, but He does mind an unintelligent quest for pleasure in order to gratify yourself at the expense of others. It’s probably worth mentioning that all so-called “secret sin” is ultimately at someone else’s expense. When we realize that God wants us to be happy and fulfilled, then we will recognize His restraints as blessings designed to increase our enjoyment of life.