To be tempted is to be enticed, or seduced, to do wrong. To tempt someone is to entice them to do wrong. In order for a person to be tempted they must have an inner inclination already within them and then the addition of a stimulus from outside of themselves. If the outside stimulus comes from an evil moral agent (human or spirit) that wants to see the person fall then the outside agent shares in any subsequent sin. These truths are underscored in James chapter one, versus 12-15:“Blessed is the person who undergoes temptation, for when he is tried and passes the test he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to them that love Him. But don’t let anyone say when he is tempted that he is tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted and tempts no man. But every man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust has conceived it brings forth sin; and sin when it is finished brings forth death.”
Note that God does not cause the sin. He does not want the person to sin. God allows temptation to reveal the sin within the person. This process of revealing sin is also called “testing”. The person is tested. The purpose of allowing temptation, or testing (also referred to in the Bible as a trial of faith), is to bring the person to recognize and resist the sin within. That is, “passing the test” consists of experiences such as contrition, repentance and mortification. The overall process is sanctification.
One point deserves special discussion. Note in the passage quoted above that being tempted is not a sin. That is, “when lust has conceived it brings forth sin”. If lust is not allowed to conceive it is not yet sin. To “conceive” means to “take in and hold”. That is, if I take hold of my lust and join to it and hold it then it becomes sin. This can be in my behavior or in my mind. Note then that to merely have “lust within” is not a sin. It is what you do with it that causes you to move from merely having a sin nature to being guilty of sin.
The good news in these truths is that after a person is born again and becomes a new person he/she can have victory over sin. The redeemed person still has a “flesh” but now has a conquering “spirit”. The existence of inner evil and the drawing forth from outside of this evil does not, in themselves, bring condemnation. Condemnation results from “yielding to the flesh”. After the new birth we are not “debtors to the flesh” and now that “we are dead to sin” we do not have to obey our sin nature, we do not have to yield to temptation; so we are free from sin and from the judgment of God.