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Is temptation, in and of itself, sin?

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by public hermit, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I think most Christians would say that temptation, in and of itself, is not sin. However, I came across a contrary view regarding temptation held by John Calvin. Calvin, who usually agrees with virtually anything Augustine says, takes a different view of temptation.

    "Content to designate it with the term "weakness," he (Augustine) teaches that it becomes sin only when either act or consent follows the conceiving or apprehension of it, that is, when the will yields to the first strong inclination. We, on the other hand, deem it sin when man is tickled by any desire at all against the law of God. Indeed, we label "sin" that very depravity which begets in us desires of this sort" (Institutes III.III.10).

    One possibility is that Calvin is being inconsistent. Perhaps in other places he argues that temptation, in and of itself, is not sin but then fails to be consistent in this passage. As it stands, this passage clearly indicates that temptation is sin. In fact, the nature that could possibly sin (i.e. depraved nature) is itself sin, according to Calvin.

    That's an odd position to hold, in my opinion. What would make this opinion even more controversial is the implications it has for our Lord's Incarnation. I think the orthodox position is that our Lord was tempted, but did not sin. If Calvin argues that our Lord was tempted, then (based on this passage) he would also have to conclude that our Lord sinned in even being tempted. I seriously doubt Calvin would be comfortable with that conclusion (although, Calvin is comfortable with all kinds of positions that make most folks uncomfortable). So, assuming the above passage is his settled position, Calvin is not being consistent.

    At any rate, what do you think. Is being tempted itself a sin?
     
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  2. Benam

    Benam Member Supporter

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    No, not at all. If it were true then Jesus was a fake since he could not have both been tempted and sinless.
     
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  3. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    No and for reasons I specified in another recent thread from a week or two ago.

    Will add link when I find it.

    Did Jesus lust ???
     
  4. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    See, I agree. But putting that to the side, for arguments sake. If I am tempted by a desire that is contrary to God's will, isn't that sin? If there is within me even the slightest desire (which is what temptation is), isn't that sinful?
     
  5. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jesus Christ of Nazareth was tempted in the desert several times. We know He is sinless. Be blessed.
     
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  6. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    Yes, thank you. What is temptation? Isn't it desire? If I have the slightest desire to do other than God's will, isn't that sinful?
     
  7. AubreyM

    AubreyM Active Member

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    Hello Publichermit,

    Found this on the biblehub, on the word tempt. Using the text from James 1:14

    James 1:14 and each one is tempted, by his own desires being led away and enticed, (youngs literal translation)

    James 1:14 Greek Text Analysis

    3985 peirázō (from 3984 /peíra, "test, trial") – "originally to test, to try which was its usual meaning in the ancient Greek and in the LXX" (WP, 1, 30). "The word means either test or tempt" (WP, 1, 348). Context alone determines which sense is intended, or if both apply simultaneously.

    3985 (peirazō) means "tempt" ("negative sense") in: Mt 16:1, 19:3, 22:18,35; Mk 8:11, 10:2, 12:15; Lk 11:16, 20:33; Jn 8:6; Js 1:13,14.

    3985 (peirazō) however is used of positive tests in: Mt 4:11; Lk 22:28; 1 Cor 10:13; Js 1:12.

    Usage: I try, tempt, test.

    There seems to be tempt in the negative sense, and also a positive which include testing?
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2021
  8. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The tempter is the sinner.
     
  9. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    I think this does explain maybe some reasons why I bumped heads with this one guy in the "Did Jesus lust" thread.


    Did Jesus lust ???
     
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  10. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Temptation is not desire. It is an outside force trying to convince your flesh to lust after a sin. Typically this is Satan's territory.
     
  11. .Mikha'el.

    .Mikha'el. Young Fogie Staff Member Supervisor Supporter

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    Why would it be if you haven't actually committed the act? :scratch:
     
  12. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    That makes sense, but can you really be tempted unless you have some desire for the thing that tempts. Imagine Jesus being tempted, but not having to struggle against that temptation, as we do. Could we really say he was tempted as we are?
     
  13. AubreyM

    AubreyM Active Member

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    One more here for you publichermit,

    From 1 Corinthians 10:13

    1 Corinthians 10:13 Greek Text Analysis

    (Youngs literal translation): No temptation hath taken you -- except human; and God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but He will make, with the temptation, also the outlet, for your being able to bear it.

    Here is the greek word for Temptation:

    Cognate: 3986 peirasmós (from 3985 /peirázō) – temptation or test – both senses can apply simultaneously (depending on the context). The positive sense ("test") and negative sense ("temptation") are functions of the context (not merely the words themselves).

    Definition: an experiment, a trial, temptation
    Usage: (a) trial, probation, testing, being tried, (b) temptation, (c) calamity, affliction.
     
  14. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    Yeah, that was Augustine's position. I think what Calvin has in mind is that for something to even be tempting, we have to (in some sense) desire the thing that tempts. He seems to conclude that desire for what tempts, in and of itself, is sin.
     
  15. Maria Billingsley

    Maria Billingsley Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Desire is completely different. It is the weakness of the flesh. It is lust and covetousness. When the temptation to act on those desires presents itself, one may very well reject that temptation thus rejecting the desires that led to it being a temptation. Whew.. kind of heavy.
     
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  16. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I didn't realize there was a thread on this. Perhaps, I would have refrained had I known.

    What do you think? In order to be tempted, one has to have some desire for the thing that tempts. Is that desire, which is obviously against the will of God, sin?
     
  17. AubreyM

    AubreyM Active Member

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    One more for you publichermit and everyone here:

    If you are truly looking for understanding here is some help.

    Enjoy being able to share so people can understand what the greek words meant because today the english language gets lost in translations a lot of the time.

    For the word sin:

    Romans 6:10 for in that he died, to the sin he died once, and in that he liveth, he liveth to God;

    Romans 6:10 Greek Text Analysis

    Sin:
    266 hamartía (a feminine noun derived from 1 /A "not" and 3313 /méros, "a part, share of") – properly, no-share ("no part of"); loss (forfeiture) because not hitting the target; sin (missing the mark).

    266 /hamartía ("sin, forfeiture because missing the mark") is the brand of sin that emphasizes its self-originated (self-empowered) nature – i.e. it is not originated or empowered by God (i.e. not of faith, His inworked persuasion, cf. Ro 14:23).

    Usage: prop: missing the mark; hence: (a) guilt, sin, (b) a fault, failure (in an ethical sense), sinful deed.
     
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  18. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I agree, it's cutting a fine hair. But, I think it matters. I have always been of the position that temptation is not, in and of itself, sin. And I am happy to continue holding that position. But, if I do, then how do I explain that a desire for something sinful is not, in and of itself, sinful? But, yeah, I would go with you and Augustine and call it "weakness."
     
  19. jacks

    jacks Er Victus Supporter

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    Personally I would say that temptation itself is not sinful. (If it is we are all in a lot of trouble...) However, when I read this verse "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Mathhew 5:28. I can see where someone could make the argument even thinking about sin (temptation) is sinful. That is quite the high bar!
     
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  20. public hermit

    public hermit social troglodyte Supporter

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    I think this is helpful. Missing the mark is basically Augustine's point. We don't sin until our action, or consent, gives way to the temptation, i.e. misses the mark.
     
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