Temptation is anything that entices a person to commit sin. Temptation is an individual thing in that there are some things which tempt one person but are no enticement to someone else. We are reminded of Simon the former sorcerer in Acts 8. When he saw through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered the apostles money that he might have the power (vv 18-19). It is not hard to imagine Simon’s past is what made the power he observed in the apostles a temptation to him. He had been a man who through deception tried to convince people of some miraculous thing happening. So far as we know, no other person there was tempted in the way Simon was.
James writes concerning temptation in James 1:13-15:
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Notice especially, one is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. If a person sins, he cannot blame God. Many people do that very thing today. For instance, when a loved one dies they may say, “God took him.” They accuse God of tempting them with the death of the loved then and, as a final consequence, abandon God. God did not take the loved one. All die. It is part of life brought about by sin. Thus, to accuse God of presenting one with a temptation is false. God does not tempt man.
It is also incorrect to blame someone else for tempting you. Someone may do something in your presence that is sin, but if you are tempted to follow their actions, it is because you are drawn away of your own lusts and enticed. There are sins one person can see another commit and have nothing but disdain for the sin. There are others who, if they see the same person commit the sin, may do it themselves If so, they are led away by their own lust and enticed. It does no good to blame someone else who first committed the sin. Certainly, the original person committing the sin will answer to God for it, but the one deceived by it will answer for his own actions. Making the excuse of, “He tempted me to do it” is a useless claim.
Another point to be considered is that a person can be tempted by a thing that is not wrong in and of itself, but if it defiles the conscience it is sin (Rom. 14: 22-23). How can it be a thing that is not, in and of itself sinful, be a temptation to sin? One answer is, if some activity or desire in this life becomes more important to an individual than it is to please God, it is sin. It becomes sin for that person whether it is inherently wrong or not. Anything a person becomes involved in—from a fishing boat to a job—can become a temptation and cause an individual to sin.
We are need to avoid those things that are evil. Things that are not evil, we need to keep in their proper place, with a limited amount of affection upon them so they will not lead us into sin. As James wrote, we are drawn away by our own lust and enticed. When the lust is acted upon it is sin, and unforgiven sin will lead to eternal destruction. Let us keep ourselves from temptation.