Lamar on Life

From a Christian living in a Gulf country. The Middle East, Arabic, understanding Muslims, outreach to Muslims are to be addressed. In addition, thoughts, reflections, and book reviews will be posted.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Question 4 from the True/False quiz says, “A bad thought is a sin.”

Peter Lord, while confessing that he was once “held in bondage by this particular teaching,” refutes it with a bit of simple (maybe too simple?) logic. He says, “If a bad thought is a sin, then when you are tempted, you sin. After all, no one can be tempted without a bad thought.” This view rests on the fact that Jesus Christ was tempted yet was without sin. However, in the complicated maze of the mind how does one determine whether a tempting thought has taken root and become sin?

James indicates that the point of sin is reached after desire and the sinful thought meet and sin is conceived. “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin . . . ” (James 1:14-15a) The image is sexual. The evil desire is in the female role waiting for the seed. The desire is unfertilized and thus sterile for the moment. This is what we should all recognize, that “in my flesh no good thing dwells”. The evil desire may be aroused, but that is still not the point where it is called sin. However, the situation is ripe for sin to occur. Notice at this point someone can be “dragged away and enticed” and the birth of sin still has not occurred. This is a powerful description of temptation; however, even at this point where one is being dragged away, the ‘dragee’ is not powerless and he is not going willingly. There is still a way of escape at this point. (I Cor. 10:13) This ability to escape is a power given to us as part of our salvation. Salvation is salvation from sin, not merely salvation from the consequences of sin. However, after the desire and the temptation conceive, the birth of sin follows. I think after this “conception” there is no abortion of the birth of this sin. I may be wrong on this point, but after the person was dragged away, he or she surrendered in the struggle so the conception took place. The person was dragged away and enticed. So, even though there was some dragging, it wasn't exactly rape; there was a seduction and a surrender.

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