555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

255. What Are We to Understand by "Lead Us Not into Temptation"?




God does not tempt any one. He may permit us to be placed in positions where, if left to our own resources, we would fall; but he does not tempt us to evil. Eve said, "The serpent beguiled me." (See Gen. 3:1, 4, 5, 13.) She yielded in her weakness and suffered accordingly (vs. 14, 15, 16). In Matt 4:1, and parallel passages, it is distinctly stated that the devil was the tempter of Jesus. In I Cor. 10:13, also, it is made clear that though God may permit us to be tempted, he is not the tempter. See James 1 :13, where it is emphatically asserted that God tempts no man. The withdrawal of the Holy Spirit exposes us to temptation, by leaving the heart open to the attack of the tempter; but nothing is more erroneous than to assume that temptation, or the placing of any agent in man's spiritual path which may cause him to fall, comes from God. If this were true, he would be the author of eternal ruin to multitudes who rush into sin by yielding to temptation. See also Job, 1st and 2d chapters, where Satan is shown as the tempter who pleads to be allowed to test the spiritual stability of the patriarch. The only sources of temptation in any case are the evil spirit, the world and the flesh. Unless we are fortified by the presence of the Divine Spirit, when these assail, we are especially exposed and liable to fall. See further on the subject Rev. 12:9; John 8144; II Cor. 11 :y, I John yS; Mark x :1y, Luke 4:2; Acts 5:3; Matt. 26:41. Even when God has made a trial of man's faith, he has done so in every instance by the removal of spiritual safeguards and leaving man to his own resources, when the tempter availed himself of the opportunity. In this sense, it is evident that a test is not a temptation. Some cannot reconcile the statement that God did tempt Abraham, Gen. 22 :1, with the assertion of James 1113 that God tempts no man. James refers to allurements to sin. Abraham was not tempted in that sense. He was tried and tested. Temptation is a trial and a test because when a man is tempted he learns his strength and weakness, hence the confusion in the meanings of the word. It is obvious, however, that the trial may come in different ways. In Abraham's case he was ordered to do something that was against his nature, and the question was whether he would do what he did not wish to do at the command of God. James, on the other hand, is speaking of a case in which a man is prompted to follow his own inclinations and to commit sin. God tempts no man to commit sin, but he does test our faith in him and love for him by trials. Job must have been tempted to take his wife's advice and curse God; but his trials, as we know, were tests of his disinterested allegiance, not such temptations as James refers to.