English blog

Temptation and undergoing trial

07-02-2017 - Posted by Andre Piet

From a visitor of the GoedBericht-site I received the following question:

What is the difference between ‘evil’ , temptations and trials? 

Eph. 6:11      Put on the whole armour of God, for your being able to stand against the wiles(The word temptation is used in the common Dutch translations)of the Devil (NIV)

Isaiah 45:7    Former of light and Creator of darkness, Maker of good and Creator of evil, I, Yahweh, make all these things.

Job 2:10          ……. Indeed should we receive good from the One, Elohim, and should we not receive evil?…….

James 1:13,14     Let no one, undergoing trial, be saying that “From God am I undergoing trial” for God is not tried by evils, yet He is trying no one. Now each one is undergoing trial when he is drawn away and lured by his own desire.

– God has created evil.
– Temptations come from the devil
– Undergoing trial  comes from your own desire
To me temptations and trials are the same and they seem to be evil to me. Can you give me an answer to this?

When James 1:13,14 speaks of trials that come from one’s own desire, then that is something else than the “wiles of the devil” of which Paul speaks in Eph 6:11. That last expression literally reads: “the stratagems of the Diabolos”. Those are the strategies of the ‘thru-caster’ which are aimed at misleading us. According to Ephesians 6:12 we have a spiritual conflict from the heavenly regions. Aimed at our thinking and not a matter of “flesh and blood” like it is the case with temptations that come from one’s own desires.

More difficult seems the question how James can say that God is trying no one while we read, for example, in Hebr. 11:17 that Abraham was being tried by God. In both cases the same Greek word is used that literally means ‘testing’ or ‘being tried’. Why these (seeming) contradiction? Is God testing or not? Let’s have a look at two examples which, in both cases, deal with ‘being tried’ or ‘testing’. First the example of Abraham whom is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaak. In Hebrews 11:17 we read:

By faith Abraham, when undergoing trial, has offered Isaac….

God tested Abraham. But in Mark 1: 13 we read about Jesus being tried by the Satan:

And He was in the wilderness forty days, undergoing trial by Satan…

Two times ( in Hebr. 11 and Mark 1) the exact same word. In both cases a test is taking place. The big difference is in the intention of the one performing the test. When the Satan (= adversary) tests Jesus in the desert, it is to make him fail. However, when God tests Abraham, it is to prove that Abraham’s faith is real and passes the test. In other words. Satan tests to make someone fall. God tests to prove that the faith is real.  Generally we give expression to that difference in motive by speaking of temptation and  trial. A temptation being negative: wanting to seduce someone. A trial is positive: wanting to prove that someone can past the test. But who or what is behind it, in both cases it is called a test.

A nice example of this we can read in Luke 22 where Jesus says to Peter:

31 Simon, Simon, Lo! Satan claims you men to sift you as grain. 32 Yet I besought concerning you, that your faith may not be defaulting.

Satan sifts Peter and his companions “as grain”. The sifting of grain means: to separate the chaff from the wheat. Satan is in fact (unintentionally!) nothing less than an instrument in Gods hand. Of course , Satan wants the chaff while God intends to have the grain. But in GODS hand even Satan cannot be else then the perfect tool for Him!