GOD TESTS, SATAN TEMPTS ~ Precious C Philip
As born again Christians, we face temptations daily. However, the temptations each person faces is usually centered around their areas of vulnerability, or the struggles, habits and addictions they had before they got born again.
Now, it is strange that some Christians believe God is the one tempting them when they're tempted to do evil. Oh no! God is incapable of such. Look at what Apostle James said in his epistle 1:13-15 "When you are tempted don’t ever say, “God is tempting me,” for God is incapable of being tempted by evil and he is never the source of temptation. Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness. Evil desires give birth to evil actions. And when sin is fully mature it can murder you!"
TLB translation puts it this way "And remember, when someone wants to do wrong it is never God who is tempting him, for God never wants to do wrong and never tempts anyone else to do it. Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes. These evil thoughts lead to evil actions and afterwards to the death penalty from God."
So, it is actually your own evil thoughts and desires that the devil uses to his advantage to tempt you. If you do not entertain evil thoughts and harbor sinful desires, the devil won't succeed in making you sin. Thus, not entertaining evil thoughts and getting rid of every evil desires actually renders the devil powerless over you and makes it easy for you to resist temptations from the devil.
Think about it, if you're being tempted to fornicate for instance, a thought must have first triggered it. So maybe you saw someone of the opposite sex you find very attractive and the thought to fornicate with them comes to your mind immediately. Now, instead of rejecting the thought, you entertain it and begin fantasizing sleeping with the person or making plans in your mind on how to get them to go to bed with you. The moment you begin to entertain those evil thoughts, you have just called the tempter (satan) to work out the plan of fornicating with the person for you. He specializes in that. Before you know it, you are already fornicating with the person. So, the evil thoughts you entertained gave birth to the evil actions you perpetrated.
From the same scripture we read above, we see also that God does not tempt us to do wrong. God tests us. But He doesn't tempt us. Satan is the one that tempts us to do evil. Therefore, don't mistake the devil tempting you for God testing you.
God tested Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32:31 to see what was in His heart: "And so when ambassadors of the rulers of Babylon were sent to him to inquire about the wonder that had happened in the land, God left him alone to test him, that He might know all that was in Hezekiah’s heart." God did not tempt him to do a sinful thing.
God also tested Abraham in Genesis 22, to see if he really loved Him more than his son, and to know the length he was willing to go to obey Him. "Later God tested Abraham and called to him, “Abraham!” “Yes, here I am!” he answered. God said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I will show you.” Vs.1 & 2. "Through your descendant all the nations of the earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Vs. 18.
God tested the Israelites in Deuteronomy 8:2 to know the content of their heart, to prove their character, and to know if they'll keep his commands: "Remember that these forty years the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commandments."
Joseph was also tested by God to prove His character. "Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the LORD tested Joseph’s character." Psalm 105:19. God did not tempt Joseph to sin. He tested and refined his character.
You remember Job? God tested him in Job 1 when the devil doubted that his worship of God was out of love for God and not because of the things God has blessed him with. So God tested Job's love, loyalty, service, faithfulness and worship of Him. God did not tempt him to engage in immorality nor was He the one that brought all the evil that befell Job during his test. It was the devil who brought all the calamities that befell Job. God bragged about Job's faithfulness and love for Him before the devil, so He allowed it to see Job's reaction and to prove the devil wrong.
Therefore, God does not tempt us with evil, neither does He tempt us to sin. God only tests us to see the content of our heart, the kind of love we profess to have for Him, our reaction, our faith, and our loyalty, service, worship of Him and faithfulness to Him. He also tests us to prove our character, to refine us and make us better Christians. He tests us to reveal the content of our heart to us, even our character to us, so that we can make the needed changes required in certain aspects of our lives. God never tempts us. It is the devil who tempts us to sin: to fornicate, to steal, to lie, to cheat, to gossip, to keep malice, to refuse to forgive, to seek revenge, to envy, to hate, to watch pornography, to watch ungodly movies, to smoke, to engage in internet fraud, to commit adultery, to drink... to do all manner of evils.
The next time you're tempted to sin, know who the actual tempter is and vehemently resist him. Don't tolerate or pamper him. He is powerless over you. He only capitalizes on a Christian's ignorance to territorize him or her. James 4:7 says "Submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you." Submit to the authority of God over your life and submit to the authority of His word over how you live on earth. When you do this, you'll be able to successfully resist the devil and his temptations.
Next week, I'll be sharing additional powerful secrets that help me overcome temptations daily.