Is Temptation a Sin?

Yesterday at my personal blog I'd posted an essay explaining Why I Will Never Watch ABC's 'The Good Doctor' Again.

In the November 26th episode called "Empathy" a character who had constant thoughts and sexual desires for children was featured. He hated his own desires and sought to rid himself of them, via medicines, mutilations, and therapies. He prided himself on never having acted on his desires, because he knew they were depraved. The build-up in the show, apparently, was to develop empathy for the 'in thoughts only' pedophile because of the extreme lengths he went to in order for him to make sure his desires remained unfulfilled.

This is called the "virtuous pedophile." The title is an actual title, based on a growing internet support group of people who acknowledge their depraved desires but do not act on them. Their restraint is supposed to be virtuous.

Someone commented in reply to my essay that "To be tempted to something is not a sin. I have no desire to normalize or justify pedophilia if that is what the show is doing, but if it deals with an individual tempted but resisting that temptation I'm not sure that would be wrong."

Let's explore that a bit here on this blog. I appreciated the nuance and grace in the comment. I thought about it for a while. In the end, I'd replied that temptation itself is not a sin, else Jesus, when he was tempted in the desert, would be sinning just for having experienced a temptation. So, I agree temptation is not a sin. What is a sin is how we respond to it. Responding to temptation is not solely the act, but also the entertainment of those thoughts. In His temptation, Jesus resisted sin by refusing even to entertain the thought and refuted satan by immediately referring to His Father's word. More here.

That said, the show I'd reviewed was not about temptation. It was about the normalizing pedophilia by calling those who have the desires but who don't act on them, virtuous. It was about the manipulative forcing of an empathetic reaction to someone who has admitted many desires for children in the sexual sense. The show made a great deal about how much the man was consumed by lust for children. It, apparently did not make much if his efforts to rid himself of the thoughts, only restraining himself from the action.

John MacArthur puts the issue to a concise point when he says (of homosexuality)
No matter how much you desire to be compassionate to the homosexual, your first sympathies belong to the Lord and to the exaltation of His righteousness.
So how should we respond to various desires we have in the flesh? And remember, not all desires are equal. Heterosexual desire is normal, but when it turns to lust for another woman it's a sin. Yet, homosexual desire is always depraved, because it is expressly forbidden in scripture. As noted in the GotQuestions essay above and as I'd said in my essay,
Lust, for example, is sin even though it may never be acted upon (Matthew 5:28). Covetousness, pride, greed, and envy are all sins of the heart; even though they may not be apparent to anyone else, they are still sin (Romans 1:29; Mark 7:21-22). When we give in to the temptation to entertain such thoughts, they take root in our hearts and defile us (Matthew 15:18–19). emphasis mine
Romans 1:26 calls homosexual desire a "degrading passion." Ergo pedophilia too. JMac again-
It is a lust that destroys the physical body, ruins relationships, and brings perpetual suffering to the soul—and its ultimate end is death (Romans 7:5).
The Good Doctor did get one thing right. In the end, the character committed suicide. Degrading passions lead to death. The Gospel is the only way to overcome degrading passions, including pedophilia. Striving to live a righteous life, denying our biblically forbidden passions and lusts- this is what is pleasing to God.

Further resources

Is Same-Sex Attraction a Sin? Answers in Genesis
The gospel offers more than sin management; it offers present transformation of our desires and eternal joy (Philippians 2:13). God welcomes strugglers who regard His glory over their own lust, and He arms them to fight joyfully against enslaving temptation inherited from Adam.


  1. Sure as the world, someone or even someones, driven by their worldly, liberal view, is or are going to accuse you, whether here or in their own self-righteous minds that, when you said, "The Good Doctor did get one thing right. In the end, the character committed suicide, " you are saying that killing himself is the only possible answer that was right. They will not read, factually or emotionally, past the period at the end of that sentence.

    But their own effusion of pride and sin forbids them from understanding that there is an entirely new way of life, entirely new ways of life, by bringing oneself to the Savior and an entirely new way of life through the forgiveness sin by confession that Jesus is Lord and confessing and believing in one's heart that God raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9-13). And one can be almost certain is, they won't unless under conviction of the Holy Spirit, that they will not look up that passage because of their pride in their own sin.

    It is this pride in one's sin, one's point of view, one's hatred of the Gospel message,that is killing this world.

    1. People accuse me of things all the time; saying things I didn't say, having motivations I don't have, doing actions I haven't done, etc. I know of which you speak, that is why the next two words after the period is 'The Gospel...' People interpret how they will interpret. If they have a question they ask here or email me.

  2. Is this what ABC is peddling these days? Glad I've stopped watching TV.


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