A First Book of Daily Readingsby D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
Sourced from the OPC website
Temptation and sin
We must learn to draw a distinction between being tempted and sinning. You cannot control the thoughts that are put into your mind by the devil. He puts them there. Paul talks of "the fiery darts of the wicked one." Now that is what had been happening to the Psalmist. [Psalm 73]. ... The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was tempted. The devil put thoughts into His mind. But He did not sin because He rejected them.
Thoughts will come to you; and the devil may try to press you to think that because thoughts have entered your mind, you have sinned. But they are not your thoughts—they are the devil's—he put them there. It was the quaint Cornishman, Billy Bray, who put this in his own original manner when he said, "You cannot prevent the crow from flying over your head, but you can prevent him from making a nest in your hair!"
So I say that we cannot prevent thoughts being insinuated into our mind; but the question is what do we do with them? We talk about thoughts "passing through" the mind; and so long as they do this, they are not sin. But if we welcome them and agree with them, then they become sin.
I emphasize this because I have often had to deal with people who are in great distress because unworthy thoughts have come to them. But what I say to them is this, "Listen to what you are telling me. You say that thought 'has come to you.' Well, if that is true, you are not guilty of sin. You do not say, 'I have thought'; you say 'the thought came.' That is right. The thought came to you, and it came from the devil; and the fact that the thought did come from the devil means that you are not of necessity guilty of sin." Temptation, in and of itself, is not sin.
Faith on Trial, p. 19.
“Text reproduced from ‘A First Book of Daily Readings’ by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, published by Epworth Press 1970 & 1977 © Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes. Used with permission.”