Can God Tempt Us to Sin?
- Dr. Roger Barrier Preach It, Teach It
- 2014 4 Feb
Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Does God lead us into temptation? When I failed in it, really? Just trying to tell me I am weak… break me. How do follow Him again when following Him leads to heartache over and over again? Lost.
I can see why you think God could, or would, tempt us. Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to pray: “… and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One…” (Matthew 6:9-13).
One the other hand, James tells us that God would never tempt anyone to sin: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;…” (James 1:13).
Perhaps this is a paradox. To us it is inconceivable that both are right. But, in God’s mind there may be no conflict. If this is a paradox then this is one of God’s mysteries. He does have mysteries the answers to which we will only discover in Heaven.
Nevertheless, it is hard to go against the “clear-cut” words of James. That is, “God never tempts anyone to sin.”
The Greek word used in these passages may be translated as either "temptation" or "trials”. The translator must choose which word he or she thinks best fits the context. While I do not believe God will ever lead us into places of temptation, there is no doubt that He often leads us into places of trials and troubles.
In your case I think God is not tempting you to fail or succeed. On the other hand, He very well may be putting you into difficult situations.
“Why would He do that?” you are asking. The answer is that God uses, allows or even creates trials and troubles to make us look more like Jesus.
Molding us to look like Jesus is God’s intended purpose for every one of His chidren.
Romans 8:28-29: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,…”
This says that all things God may allow or bring into our lives are for the “good purpose” of maturing us to look and act like Jesus.
“Though he was a Son, Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered (Hebrews 5-13).
Jesus endured suffering and pain to accomplish God’s plan for His life. He uses the same tactics to mature us to look like Jesus.
In your question you were asking how you follow God when following God brings you so much pain and misery. The answer is to change your perspective and understanding of what is going on in your life. All of these troubles are designed to help you become more like Jesus.
Hebrews 12:5-11 is the classic passage on how and why God allows difficulties to dog your steps, and not just yours, but to dog the steps of all of us who follow Jesus Christ.
5And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father… 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live!10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
According to Hebrew 12 we are to handle our troubles with four words of encouragement:
Don’t play like you don’t know what is going on. Do understand that God designed trials to shape you to look like Jesus.
Don’t take troubles lightly. Do remember that fashioning you to look like Jesus is serious business.
Don’t get angry and bitter. Do welcome His work in your life.
Don’t resist God’s work. Do submit because He intends to finish His plan for your life; so make it easy on yourself and partner with Him.
Let me encourage you to stop worrying so much about your failures. Failure does not mean defeat. It means that we are wiser and stronger to meet the next set of difficulties that come your way.
You also need not be afraid that God will allow or load more troubles on you than you can handle. The Bible says: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Now, for your homework. Read the following three passages and observe how God poured In the power to help him be victorious in every trouble that he faced.
Laurie, I hope that this gives you some help and direction.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.