This is one of the biggest things that I think causes issued with people of the Mormon faith. And I would say it also causes problems with most Christian faiths as well. That is the difference between Temptation and Sin.
For most of my life, I was under the impression that Temptation was Sin. If you were tempted to do something, then you had actually sinned in some way. I think that it comes from several scriptures, as well as other peoples teachings. In Matthew 5:28 it says, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her had committed adultry whith her already in his heart.” So if you have a moment of temptation, you have already committed the sin. That is what I have thought it meant, but I did not read the part about the “to lust” part. If your intention is to be tempted, then you have committed the sin.
There is a huge difference here. Being tempted, is different then “entering into temptation“. One you control, the other is not under your control. Being tempted is not the same as sinning. You are not evil, or a sinner if you are tempted. It is entering into temptation or allowing that temptation to turn into a sin that is the error. Or if you go into a place where you know you will be tempted then you would also be entering into temptation.
Case and point (I always wondered why they put this in the scriptures, and then it clicked.) The story I am talking about is found in Matthew Chapter 4.
1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not atempt the Lord thy God.
8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.
10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
11 Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Christ was tempted, but he never sinned. You can actually be tempted without being a sinner. It all depends on how you handle the temptation. Another interesting part is how after he weathered the temptations, angels came down and administered to him. It should also be noted that he was taken into the locations of temptation, he did not go there by choice.
The main thing to remember is that you should not go to locations where you know you will be tempted. This could be physical locations, internet sites, movies, media, and other places. And if you do run into temptation, push through it and don’t give into the temptation.
And always remember, that after the temptation the Lord will comfort you. We sometimes don’t see the comfort until after the trial or temptation.
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Remember, we will never be tempted above what we are able to handle, and the Lord will always provide a way for us to escape and bear it.
This has been a source of depression in my life, and I think it has also lead to the decisions of loved ones that I know. It is important to remember that temptation does not equal sin, and that the Lord will always help you push past the temptations if you let Him.
(NOTE: the Dr. Pepper logo is a tempation that I have to battle every day. It is not a spiritual temptation per say, but a physical tempation. It is one that I am pushing past to live what I feel would be a healther life. I am in no way saying that drinking Dr. Pepper is a sin.)