Friday, July 29, 2011
Is temptation sin? What is the difference between temptation and sin?
Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted in every way as we are and did not sin (Heb. 4:15). Temptation is something that happens around us, or inside our heads, that seeks to get us to take our eyes off Jesus. Positionally, we are sitting in the lap of God (1 Jn. 1:9). Temptation tries to get us to leave God’s presence and indulge in our desires. We sin when we hop down and give in to the temptation (Jas. 1:14, 15). One of the goals of the Christian life is to learn to live in a world full of temptations and, like Jesus, not sin.
It is similar to a martial arts student who strives to learn to defend himself in any and every situation. Early on in his training, he may get beat up by the bully, but over time, he learns to rebuff and overcome even the most sophisticated maneuvers. And when he is mature, he will be able to defeat the foe without even thinking about it. The Christian, when he is young, may be overwhelmed by every temptation that comes along. Over time, by proper training and instruction, he will learn to react to temptation in a godly way. He may never completely come to the place where he ceases from sin, but the Bible is full of teaching about how he can live a godly life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1, 2; 1 Cor. 1:4-8).
How can I institute this idea of confession of sin if I’ve never done it and I’ve been sinning for the past twenty years? I can’t remember all the sins I’ve committed.
The point is that we have been created for God’s glory (Isa. 43:7). We are not here to please ourselves. We aren’t the center of the universe. Paul said whether he is here or there, he makes it his goal to please the Lord in every way (2 Cor. 5:9).
We also exist in order to have a relationship with the Father through the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. We exist to have relationship with God and with his people. Sin breaks the relationship. We need to confess our sin because it destroys our relationships with God and our fellow man.
I know that if you haven’t confessed sin in a long, long time, you are probably feeling pretty overwhelmed. God knows it too. Remember, however, that God wants to be in fellowship with you a lot more than you want to be in fellowship with him. He proved his desire to you by sending Jesus to die for you so that you could have this relationship with him. Here’s what I suggest you do. Plan to go off by yourself for an extended period of time, several hours if needed. Bring your Bible and a pad of note paper. Read your Bible, and, as you read, ask God to reveal to you any sins that you have not confessed. Begin writing them on the pad of paper. Record in detail what the sin was and who it was against; also, record how you plan to make things right.
When you can’t remember anymore sins, stop writing. Go back over the list, and tell God about each sin, confessing, asking him to forgive you and to begin changing your heart. Then begin making appointments with everyone on the list to confess your sin to them, where needed. Confess your sin to them and include in that confession your plan to make things right: either restitution or a plan to help them to believe you won’t do that sin again.
Remember that God wants this relationship with you more than you want it with him. If there is sin that you haven’t remembered, he will bring it to your mind. If you run out of things to confess, assume there isn’t anything left. Praise the Lord and go on. If God brings something to mind later, confess that, ask for forgiveness and go on.
From now on, keep short accounts with God and man. If you sin, as soon as you can, make it right. As I said earlier, if you can catch yourself sinning, even in the middle of a sentence, confess it right then.