Testing vs. temptation: Don’t blame God for the distinction

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Do not err, my beloved brethren.

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— James 1:12-16

While the Bible clearly says that God does not tempt anyone, it is true that God tests us – that is, He allows us to get into situations where we must make a choice between right and wrong.

Temptation vs. testing.

For instance, Jesus Himself was led into temptation. (Matthew 4:1, Luke 10:25) He was God. He was not in the temptation business.

Matthew tell us the Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Therefore, it was God’s will that He be tested. That doesn’t mean it was God’s will that He be led into sin. There’s a clear distinction.

In the book of Job, we see God permitting the central character to be tempted or tested by Satan. Again, it doesn’t suggest it was God’s will that Job sin.

Even more to the point, in Luke 22:28-32, Jesus tells the disciples: “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

Clearly, it is God’s will that we face temptation – and resist it, just as He did.

In other words, temptation is not sin. It’s a test.

Why does God allow us to be tested? Because He wants to strengthen our faith. He wants us to be His children who live with Him in His everlasting Kingdom. He does not want us to be spiritual weaklings. He wants us to be like Him – of His seed, not Satan’s.

Neither does God want or permit us to be tempted beyond what He knows we can bear, as we see in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

I’ve always looked at the Lord’s Prayer as evidence of Divine inspiration, meaning I can’t even conceive of a mortal human being authoring such a perfect prayer without the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 6:9-13 reads:

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

There’s simply no problem there – no error, not even in the common English translations. That’s not to say all translations of the Bible are perfect. Sometimes we have to look to the original language to better understand.

When we enter God’s Kingdom, I’m sure we will all recognize we have shortcomings in our understanding. I’m sure we will all be pleasantly surprised that we suffered under some misconceptions about the will of God. We’ll all need some correction, clarification. There’s no doubt much to learn by living in the presence of God.

“The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament” by Joseph Farah is available in both hardcover and e-book versions.

ALSO: Get Joseph Farah’s book “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age,” and learn about the Hebrew roots of the Christian faith and your future in God’s Kingdom. Also available as an e-book.


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