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What Is The Difference Between Being Tempted and Tested?

November 6, 2001

Dear L__,

You asked:

Yours is the same puzzle many others have faced in light of the scripture that says God tempts no man.

Jam 1:13 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."

To be 'proved' or 'tested' or 'tempted' are simply three English words that have been translated by writers from this one Hebrew word nacah which is #5254 in the Strong's concordance in Hebrew and is peirazo Strong's #3985 in the Greek.

In Matthew 4, Christ is "led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil" (Mat 4:1). The Greek word used for "tempted" is peirazo (Strong's #3985). The 'peirazo' or 'tempting' is done "by the Spirit…by the devil", just as it was accomplished in Eden with Eve; as it was accomplished with Job (Job 8:1 and Job 42:11); with Saul (1Sa 16:14 and 18:10); as it was also accomplished with David (2Sa 24:1 and 1Ch 21:1); with Ahab (2Ch 18:21) and even Abraham himself in Gen 22:1. It is never God himself, it is always "a spirit" (2Ch 18:20) and often, they are "evil" or "lying spirits" (2Ch 18:21) whom God sends to accomplish these "tests", "provings" or "temptings".

Was Christ simply tested, not tempted when He was offered bread after fasting 40 days? In the "marriage chapter", 1Co 7:5, Paul says to married couples; "Do not deprive one another [of sexual relations] except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self control". Is this speaking of "testing, not tempting" because of one's lack of self control?

This word "tempt" is peirazo (#3985 in Strong's) the exact same word used by James in Jam 1:13. "Lack of self control" is generally considered fertile ground for temptation.

In Mat 4:7, Christ quotes Deu 6:16 - "Thou shalt not [peirazo] tempt the Lord thy God." The word 'tempt' in Deu 6:16 is nacah in Hebrew (Strong's #5254). This is the same word used in Gen 22:1 where God is said to nacah or "tempt" Abraham.

One final scripture...In Heb 11:17, we are told "Abraham...was tried" (peirazo #3985) when he "offered up Isaac". This is the exact same word used in Jam 1:13. Gen 22:1 tells us who was ultimately responsible for this peirazo or "tempting" (same word in 1Co 7:5). It was, as always, God.

May God bless you in your studies.

Love in Christ,

Mike