Temptation is not the same as sin. Temptation can certainly lead to sin but maintaining the distinction between temptation and sin is vitally important. Getting this wrong destroys our Christology and creates a culture of unnecessary guilt in the life of a Christian. Misplaced guilt is one of the chief weapons of our serpentine accuser (Rev 12:10).
The discussion of how believers and churches should respond to brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle with same sex attraction has led some evangelicals to argue that the attraction itself is sinful, even if the Christian remains chaste, and in obedience to Christ never yields to the temptation. Of course, same sex attraction is simply one among many ways all believers are tempted to sin. How we answer the question of the relationship between temptation and sin has huge implications for every Christian.
The preacher of Hebrews urges his listeners (I believe it is a sermon in written form) to draw near to Christ in great confidence, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Some suggest that temptation of Christ was not really temptation in the way we experience temptation because of his divinity but that all of our temptation is inherently sinful because we are simply humans. First, the church has always rejected as dangerous any attempt to divide the incarnation of Christ in that kind of way. Second, such an approach seems to be arguing the opposite of what the text in Hebrews is emphasizing.
Jesus was unsuccessfully tempted in the wilderness by the devil upon the launch of his public ministry (Matt 4, Luke 4) and the Hebrews sermon stresses that as our high priest Jesus is able to sympathize with us because he is one who “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” The sermon in Hebrews had already asserted, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb 2:18). At Gethsemane Jesus overcame temptation to shrink back from the task ahead when he fell on his face and cried out, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt 26:36-39). The Hebrews sermon avers that Jesus “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb 5:8). The language throughout Hebrews 1-4 seems to be chosen precisely because of the way it connects with the experience of the listeners.
Temptation is an experience “common to man” (1 Cor 10:13) but not all are tempted in the same way. Whether the temptation is a same sex attraction, heterosexual immorality, deceit, materialism, laziness, pride, or countless others, if the person recognizes the danger, seeks deliverance from the temptation, and resists acting upon it to the glory of Christ, that is obedience—not sin. James argues that temptation alone is not the same as committing sin. According to James, temptation can give way to inordinate desire and give birth to sin but if it stops at the level of temptation then sin is not yet conceived (James 1:13-15). Agreeing with a temptation and capitulating to a sinful desire must not be considered the same thing as rejecting a temptation and turning from a sinful desire.
John Frame applies the distinction between temptation and sin to the issue of same sex attraction,
If homosexual orientation is simply a strong pattern of temptation, it is not wrong in itself. Temptation is not sin. Jesus himself “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). Certainly Jesus experienced sexual temptation, since that is such a pervasive form of temptation to human beings after the fall. But it is possible to reject temptation without sin, and Jesus did reject it.
Christians should be sympathetic to other Christians who are enduring any kind of temptation, especially one that besets them day after day. We do not all have the same patterns of temptation, but we are all tempted in one way or another (The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 760).
Temptation certainly becomes sin when we yield to a sinful desire in our heart, mind, or actions but it is biblically wrong and pastorally tragic to suggest that all temptation is sin. Satan, the tempter, is the accuser of our brothers. Let us not join him in his destructive ministry of condemnation and false guilt. Let us say with Paul, “with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor 10:13).