Does God tempt us to perfect us?

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By BibleAsk Team


The question of whether God tempts us to perfect us is a theological issue that has been discussed throughout Christian history. To address this question thoroughly, we will delve into various biblical passages, theological perspectives, and practical implications.

Understanding Temptation in Scripture:

Temptation is a recurring theme in the Bible, often associated with the enticement to sin or turn away from God’s will. The concept is multifaceted, involving both external influences and internal desires that lead individuals astray. While temptation itself is not inherently sinful, yielding to temptation and succumbing to sin have serious consequences.

Bible References on Temptation:

  1. James 1:13-14 (NKJV): “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” This passage from the Epistle of James explicitly states that God does not tempt anyone to sin. Rather, temptation arises from within individuals, as they are drawn away by their own desires.
  2. Matthew 6:13 (NKJV): “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches His disciples to pray for deliverance from temptation, recognizing the reality of spiritual warfare and the need for God’s protection against the schemes of the evil one.

James makes it clear that the sufferings, trials, and problems that every Christian faces are not from God. The Almighty will permit man to face trials, but never with the purpose that any one should fail. God’s purpose is like that of the refiner, who casts his metal into the fire with the desire that a purer metal will be the result.

Satan, however, tempts with the purpose of causing defeat (Matthew 4:1). Thus, suffering is inflicted by Satan but is overruled by God for merciful ends. God overrules by making the trials the means of developing a better character in His children (Job 42:5; Psalms 38:3; 39:9). For the Lord “works all things together for good” for those the love Him (Romans 8:28). Christ suffered more than any human being. The “fiery trial” simply makes Christ’s disciples “partakers” of His sufferings for their own eternal good.

Theological Perspectives on God’s Purpose in Temptation:

  1. Permissive Will vs. Active Testing: The Bible distinguishes between God’s permissive will and His active testing. While God may allow individuals to experience temptation as part of their moral and spiritual development, He does not actively tempt them to sin (James 1:13-14). Instead, He uses trials and challenges to refine and strengthen their faith, leading them towards greater maturity and dependence on Him. For “the testing of your faith produces [a]patience” (James 1:3).
  2. Redemptive Purpose: The Bible emphasizes God’s redemptive purpose in temptation, highlighting His ability to bring good out of evil and to use even the darkest moments of human experience for His glory (Romans 8:28). Through the power of Christ’s redemption, believers can overcome temptation and experience spiritual transformation, ultimately becoming more conformed to the image of Christ (James 1:2-4).

Thus, if God permits suffering and perplexity to come upon the believers, it is not to destroy them but to sanctify them (Romans 8:17). The troubles and disappointments of this life take their affections from the world and lead them to look to heaven. The difficulties teach the believers to depend upon God for  salvation. And they bring about a more humble and submitting spirit, a more patient and kind character.

All through the ages, God’s children were able to say at the end of their lives that it was good for them to have been so afflicted by hardships and trials (Psalms 119:67, 71; Hebrews 12:11). Like Joseph after his trial, he was able to say to his brothers, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good” (Genesis 50:20).

Practical Implications and Responses:

  1. Vigilance and Spiritual Discernment: Believers are called to exercise vigilance and spiritual discernment in the face of temptation, recognizing the deceptive nature of sin and relying on the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance (Ephesians 6:11).
  2. Prayer and Dependence on God: Prayer plays a vital role in resisting temptation and seeking deliverance from the evil one. By turning to God in times of trial, believers can find strength and refuge in His presence (Luke 22:4).
  3. Accountability and Community: Building relationships of accountability and support within the Christian community can help believers withstand temptation and overcome sin. Through mutual encouragement and accountability, believers can walk together in faithfulness and obedience to God’s will (1 Corinthians 10:24).
  4. Scripture and Spiritual Warfare: Engaging with Scripture and the spiritual disciplines provides essential resources for spiritual warfare and resistance against temptation. By meditating on God’s Word and hiding it in their hearts, believers can equip themselves to withstand the attacks of the enemy (Ephesians 6:17).

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the question of whether God tempts us to perfect us is a theological issue that requires careful consideration of biblical teaching, theological perspectives, and practical implications. While Scripture affirms that God does not tempt anyone to sin, it also acknowledges the reality of temptation and the spiritual warfare that believers face. Through His sovereignty, wisdom, and redemptive purpose, God is able to use even the darkest moments of human experience for His glory and the ultimate good of His people. By relying on His strength, seeking His guidance, and walking in obedience to His will, believers can overcome temptation and experience spiritual growth and maturity in their relationship with God.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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