Temptation and Testing

1 Corinthians 10:13 
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 stand up under it. 

What is Temptation? 
“Tempt” means “test” in an unrestricted sense.  It is only since the 17th century that the word’s connotation has been limited to testing with evil intent. The biblical idea of temptation is not primarily of seduction, as in modern usage, but of making trial of a person, or putting him to the test; which may be done for: 

  1. The benevolent purpose of proving or improving their quality (usually prove or try is a metaphor from metal refining). 
  2. The malicious aim of showing up his weaknesses or trapping him into wrong action. 

How and Why does God Test Christians? 
God tests His people by putting them in situations that reveal the quality and sincerity of their faith and devotion, so that all can see what is in their hearts.1 God allows the trial to be His method of purifying the believer as metal is purified in the refiner’s crucible.2 He strengthens their patience, matures their Christian character and He leads them into an enhanced assurance of His love for them. Through faithfulness in times of trial men become “approved” in God’s sight.

How and Why Does Satan Test Christians?  
Satan tests God’s people by manipulating circumstances, within the limits that God allows him, in an attempt to make them desert God’s will.4  Christians must constantly be watchful and active against the devil, for he is always at work trying to make us fall.5  There are four main schemes that Satan uses to succeed in the destruction of Christians:

  1. He tries to crush us under the weight of hardship or pain. 6
  2. He tries to urge us toward a wrong fulfillment of natural desires. 7
  3. He tries to make us complacent, careless and self-assertive. 8
  4. He tries to misrepresent God to us and create false ideas of His truth and His will.9  Matthew 4:5 demonstrates that Satan can even quote (and misapply) Scripture for this purpose.

Are Temptations From God or the Devil? 
The Bible makes it clear that ‘testing’ or ‘trials’ are the work of both God and the devil.10  They are testing situations in which the servant of God faces new possibilities of both good and evil, and is exposed to various inducements to prefer the latter. From the standpoint of being lured into evil, temptations are Satan’s work; but we must keep in mind that Satan is God’s tool as well as His foe,11  and it is ultimately God who leads His servants into temptation,12  permitting Satan to try to seduce us for purposes of His own. 

Though temptations do not overtake men apart from God’s will, the actual prompting to do wrong is not of God. The desire, which impels to sin, is not God’s, but one’s own, and it is fatal to yield to it.13

How Do We Triumph over Temptation and Testing? 
God’s desire is for the Christian not to fail in temptation,14  while Satan’s desire is for the Christian to fail and eventually give up (become an apostate). The Christian can please God in the time of testing by applying the following truth into their lives:

  1. Believe the Truth. Take God at His word! God promises that a way of deliverance will always be open when He allows Satan to tempt Christians.15  Whenever being tempted to sin ask yourself, “What lie am I believing?” Then begin to replace that lie with truth from the Bible. Finally, live according to that truth and refuse to believe the lie. 
  2. Understand the Difference Between Temptation and Sin. We have to understand the difference between being tempted and sinning. A believer may easily condemn oneself because of a temptation or desire. After perceiving that they have already failed and reached a point of no return, they continue on to sin. The Bible never teaches that a believer will never have a sinful desire (which is temptation); the Bible only teaches not to gratify your sinful desires (which is sin).16  We must remember that temptation is not sin, for Christ was tempted as we are yet remained sinless.17  Temptation becomes sin only when the suggestion of evil is accepted and yielded to.

Understand Our Nature and God’s Power 
In the Lord’s Prayer we humbly confess that we are prone to sin and thus plead with Him not to allow us to be brought into situations or conditions that involve grave temptation to sin. Those who sincerely pray for forgiveness of their sins, long to be enabled not to sin again. Thus it is fitting that the petition to “not lead us into temptation” follows “forgive us of our sins.”

God never tempts anyone to do evil,18  but He controls the circumstances of our lives. Christ taught His disciples to ask God not to expose them to temptation,19  and to watch and pray, lest they should “enter into” temptation (yield to its pressure) when at any time God saw fit to try them by it.20  We must live in the fact that it is not only our resolve but also God’s grace that allows us to pursue holiness. 

Take Radical Steps Not to Sin 
In Mark 9:43-48, Jesus encourages the radical initiative to eradicate the possibility of sin in one’s life. Jesus meant a disciple should take prompt, decisive action against whatever would draw him away from his allegiance to God. Whatever tempts a disciple to cling to this world’s life must be removed much as a surgeon amputates a gangrenous limb. Although we rely on God’s power for deliverance, the Scriptures are clear about the mandate for men to take the initiative to pursue holiness.

Pursue Accountability 
James 5:13-20 has traditionally been interpreted as a passage for God to heal sick people in the realm of the common cold.  However, the context is clear that the sickness mentioned here is that of spiritual sickness. This particular context seems to be showing a backsliding person whom God wants to bring healing by using other Christians.  Plainly, part of this healing comes through confessing and praying with other believers. 

Having someone in your life to be authentic with about areas of temptation and struggle is essential. This person or people can continue to pray on your behalf while at the same time helping you stay accountable as you seek to honor God. Accountability is only a blessing if people really desire it. The Bible teaches that accountability is one way the Lord uses to bring healing in Christ.

Application Questions 

  1. What are three ways that you are tempted?
  2. What does the Bible say about those temptations?
  3. What are steps you can take to not gratify those temptations?

Memory Verses 
1 Corinthians 10:13 
James 1:12-13

How does this study reinforce your belief in the gospel? 


  1. Genesis 22:1; Exodus 16:4, 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2, 13:3, 16; Judges 2:22; 2 Chronicles 32:31
  2. Psalm 66:10; Isaiah 48:10; 1 Peter 1:6
  3. James 1:12; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 1 Peter 5:10
  4. Job 1:12, 2:6; 1 Corinthians 10:13
  5. Mark 14:38; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:10; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9
  6. Job 1:11-2:7; 1 Peter 5:9; Revelation 2:10; Hebrews 2:18
  7. Matthew 4:3; 1 Corinthians 7:5
  8. Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:27
  9. Genesis 3:1-5; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 14; Matthew 4:5
  10. Luke 22:28; Acts 20:19; James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6; 2 Peter 2:9
  11. Job 1:11, 2:5
  12. Matthew 4:1, 6:13
  13. James 1:14
  14. James 1:12
  15. 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Peter 2:9
  16. Galatians 5:16
  17. Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 4:1; Luke 22:28
  18. James 1:13
  19. Matthew 6:13
  20. Matthew 26:41

Other Resources

Here are a few websites we recommended you use to receive further training and help aid your worship of Christ:

The Gospel Coalition
for Theology and Worldview

The Resurgence
for Theology and Worldview

Desiring God
for Theology and Worldview

God Squad
for Campus Ministry and Evangelism

Gospel Centered Discipleship
for Accountability

FCS Urban Ministries
for Urban Ministry & Community Development

for Urban Ministry & Community Development