Is All Temptation Internal?

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Steven Wedgeworth was kind enough to respond to my recent post on concupiscence, doing so here. As was true when I read his chapter in Ruined Sinners to Reclaim, I agreed with a lot of this response also.

Two places where I would still differ. I don’t think that my (possible) difference with John Owen puts me on the side of Ed Shaw, or anyone in that neck of the woods. Same sex orientation is sinful in its essence, in a way that hunger is not. And if Jesus experienced temptation internally (in some respect), it would be a completely different kind of experience from that of someone who has been saddled with unnatural lusts. I argue that such a condition requires the grace of justification. The fact that such an unnatural orientation is not “an actual sin,” does not keep it from being sinful, and in desperate need of the grace of God.

Second, I want to leave room for the possibility that we need to investigate how terms like “internal” are being used. I am interested in what definition is being used. When our first mother looked at the forbidden tree, she was doing so with sinless eyes, and yet the temptation had some “purchase” with her because it was pleasant to look at, good for food, and capable of making her wise (Gen. 3:6). She saw that it was a “tree to be desired to make one wise.” All of this is internal, at least in the way that I am using the word internal.

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Denise
Denise
30 days ago

I think we need more clarity about WORD THought, Deed sin…and the dff between them.

Murk
Murk
29 days ago

I would say that what constituted the fall of man was when Adam ate. He ate because Eve determined she was fit to determine which of the two contrary voices was right. Thus God and Satan were the subjects of her experiment- the whole thing would be decided by the experimental method in time. By doing this Eve put God in the dock – thus she made herself a little higher than God (in her mind). If someone asked her at that point if she realized this – I think she would deny it as the deception was already at… Read more »

Richard Giles
Richard Giles
29 days ago
Joshua Butcher
Joshua Butcher
29 days ago

I posted in the previous blog entry, but I think the distinction is with respect to the kind of desire appealed to, and the nature of how the temptation is persuading one to fulfill the desire. Eve saw that the tree was good for food (not unlawful desire), pleasant to the eye (not unlawful desire), and fit to make one wise (not unlawful desire). Her evaluation of the tree involves desires that are lawful, and her taking the fruit under the deception offered by the serpent shows that she has transgressed the objective command, but not necessary with a high… Read more »

Eric
Eric
29 days ago
Reply to  Joshua Butcher

“But the significant difference between Adam and Jesus is that Jesus has a divine nature, whereas Adam did not. Perhaps whatever human weakness that Adam succumbed to in his state of innocence was overcome by virtue of Christ’s dual nature, the divine power granting him victory where Adam failed.” No, this smacks of monothelitism, the heresy that taught that Christ had two natures yet only had one (divine) will. Or perhaps some form of monophysitism, which wrongly “mixes” or combines his divine and human natures, not keeping them distinct as per the Definition of Chalcedon. Christ in his humanity was… Read more »

Last edited 29 days ago by Eric
J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
29 days ago
Reply to  Eric

A lot hinges on Hebrews 4:15…I don’t have the theological chops for much of this discussion, but it seems the writer is saying we can approach Jesus, even on His heavenly throne, because He understands us and has sympathy for us because of His time on earth. I get this from my teenage daughter all the time when I ask why something is embarrassing to her…she says; “You just don’t get it Dad, you’re not a girl.” I feel like this verse is taking away the human excuse to say to Jesus; “You just don’t get it, I’m only human.”… Read more »

Joshua Butcher
Joshua Butcher
29 days ago
Reply to  Eric

So would you say the divine nature and will contribute nothing to Jesus’s human experience? I’m not asserting that there is one will in Jesus, or that there is a mixing of the natures. I’m just recognizing that Jesus possessing two natures is different from Adam. I don’t see the implication of the divine will aiding the human will leading to the heresies you identify. I don’t think the “in every respect” can be applied without recognizing the distinction inherent in the Greek word used. Sometimes it means tested, irrespective of negative connotations of sin, but sometimes it is used… Read more »

Jared Leonard
Jared Leonard
29 days ago
Reply to  Joshua Butcher

Jesus was born to actual parents and had some millennia of written and oral religious tradition as an integral part of His upbringing. I am not, here, suggesting that Adam’s issue was primarily a knowledge problem, but their respective historical and biological circumstances seem like another significant difference to me given their initial “tests” in the presence of the serpent. Adam “knew better” but he was setting the human precedent for obeying God, and nothing like his situation had ever occurred before. This is decidedly unlike the tests Jesus went through, at least in that regard. From the narrative we… Read more »

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
29 days ago

Knowing. Feeling Doing ..she knew what it was .saw it. took it Prophet.Priest. King

Jared Leonard
Jared Leonard
29 days ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

Except the order is Priest > King > Prophet.

She sees the fruit, receiving the truth of God’s creation (Priest)

She “sees” (judges) the fruit, a delight to the eyes and desirable (King)

  • This may remind you of a certain king on a certain rooftop…

She takes the fruit, eats the fruit, then gives the fruit to Adam (Prophet)

Zeph
29 days ago

I wonder how God would have reacted if after Eve ate the fruit, Adam approached God and said, “Eve ate the fruit. What am I supposed to do? I don’t know.”

Jimmy
Jimmy
29 days ago
Reply to  Zeph

After reading these comments, I think the point with Adam is being missed. Adam was the priest of the garden and yet he let the serpent, an unclean animal, into the “holy of holies” and was with her while she was being deceived. The Jewish children would have been catechized with the Pentateuch, and hearing the story of Adam and Eve in Genesis, they would have realized immediately that the snake shouldn’t have been in the garden in the first place. They would have been well aware of the parallels of the Garden and the Temple from Leviticus. Adam’s failure… Read more »

John Middleton
John Middleton
29 days ago
Reply to  Jimmy

When God pronounced the curse to Adam, He didn’t tell Adam it was because he failed to lead his wife, He said it was because Adam listened to his wife. The currently popular idea that Eve failed because Adam failed to lead (or protect) her is reading contemporary cultural sensibilities into Scripture.

Murk
Murk
28 days ago
Reply to  Jimmy

Who was protecting the two people who were innocent like children – so innocent that they freely walked around naked?

Who made the cunning and crafty serpent?

Who allowed the serpent to roam the garden?
(Who allowed Satan to kill Jobs’ children?)

Who was slain from the foundation of the world?

Jared Leonard
Jared Leonard
29 days ago
Reply to  Zeph

We don’t have to wonder because we have the example of the Second Adam who didn’t fail. Ultimately, His death was required for the restoration of His bride. Because He willingly offered Himself in her stead, to take on her punishment, she was made clean and He was vindicated by resurrection.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
28 days ago
Reply to  Jared Leonard

I’m not saying you’re incorrect, but this answer is deeply speculative and symbolic. He was the second Adam in some respects, yes, but the two are not and never have been identical, and you’re only theorizing where the similarities begin and differences end.

Aside from being fundamentally different in some respects, the first and second Adam did not exist on earth during identical circumstances. The second Adam is making choices *after* the consequences of the first.

We can only guess, or in other words wonder, about what sequence of events might have taken place had the first Adam behaved differently.

Last edited 28 days ago by Justin Parris
Brittain Brewer
Brittain Brewer
29 days ago

Thanks, Doug. A few thoughts: “If Jesus experienced temptation internally (in some respect), it would be a completely different kind of experience from that of someone who has been saddled with unnatural lusts.” Let’s say that, hypothetically, this is true. If we say that Jesus’ internal wrestling (whatever that looks like, and is in fact the matter of debate) is fundamentally different than that from which we know, then we should be wary of using analogies from our own life to explain this, because it is so fundamentally different. “She was doing so with sinless eyes.” Doesn’t this analogy fail as well?… Read more »

Nathan
Nathan
28 days ago

Given Heb 4:15, it seems he experiences more than just our limitation, right? He experiences our weakness, our temptation, also. I don’t think we can get from that experience to “able to sin”, of course. Unless maybe we define “able to” as something like “possessing the capability even when impossible”? Like as a human, i have the capability of going to orbit, but for me personally it is impossible. (Or like how we have the capability of thinking about things without analogies, but in practice it is probably impossible.) In any case, it seems that the experience of temptation is… Read more »

Steve Long
27 days ago

Regarding Eve, John Calvin says (https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cal/genesis-3.html), “after the heart had declined from faith, and from obedience to the word, she corrupted both herself and all her senses, and depravity was diffused through all parts of her soul as well as her body. It is, therefore, a sign of impious defection, that the woman now judges the tree to be good for food.”

Similarly, Augustus Strong (https://www.gutenberg.org/files/44555/44555-h/44555-h.html) concludes that “man fell inwardly, before the outward act of eating the forbidden fruit.” (Strong also references a quote from Samuel Baird, who said, “man was fallen before the fruit had been plucked.”)

Postmillitant
Postmillitant
26 days ago

The subtlety of the serpent in the Garden was demonstrated in tempting our first parents to what they perceived as good. They were not fallen, so a “do not walk on lawn” sign would not have provoked a desire to dip a toe into that grass. Evil was not attractive. It had to be temptation to something good in a way or by a means that wasn’t. Jesus could not have been same sex attracted because se that is a bent desire to begin with, meaning it is downstream from corruption. To the previous point, same sex attraction offers no… Read more »

Adam McIntosh
Adam McIntosh
24 days ago

Perhaps this would be helpful: The things described of Eve are not sinful. Genesis affirms that the tree was good for food and capable of making her wise. These were not sinful desires on Eve’s part. The internal sin was desiring to obey the serpent (i.e. to eat the good and wise fruit before God permitted her). The serpent tempted Eve externally, but it became an internal temptation once she started entertaining the serpent’s offer. That internal temptation (sin) led to outward, sinful actions. Fast-forward to Jesus fasting and hungry in the wilderness. When Satan tempted him, it was not… Read more »

Ricardo Davis
Ricardo Davis
24 days ago

“Same sex orientation is sinful in its essence, in a way that hunger is not“

Another way of saying this is “same sex orientation is sinful in its essence, in the same way that gluttony is.”