Temptation vs Test — both of these terms are used in the Christian fold. Although both are used interchangeably, they are not necessarily the same.
The temptation is a common term used to describe an enticement or bait to commit sin. Being enticed is not a bad thing in itself, but failing to overcome such enticement is the sin itself.
A test, on the other hand, refers to a period of trial, where the end result is positive in nature. This could include strengthening of faith, Increase in trust, or a special reward as in the case of Joseph.
Does God Tempt Believers?
The question of if God tempts a believer stems from the Lord’s prayer. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). This is according to the instructions of Jesus. So does God tempt the believer?
There are periods of time where the line is blurred, and the difference between both terms cannot be easily identified. The bible speaks on both tests and temptations. Taking a look at some Biblical examples, we would identify and explain the differences between temptation vs test.
Temptation vs Test: Was Job Tempted Or Tested?
The story of Job is one that a lot of believers find hard to comprehend. The devil came to a meeting of God and His angels, and after he had given an account of his roaming about the earth, God boasted about Job. It was God’s boast that caused the devil to test Job. (Job 1: 6-12, 2: 1-6)
It is important to remember that God already knew the end from the beginning, (Isaiah 46:10) and as a result was assured of Job’s Faithfulness. The question would then arise, why then the whole test?
Job’s test built Job in many ways. Job grew in patience, he grew in trust too. Unlike in temptation where we’re assaulted with things that appear pleasurable, Jobs test was far from enjoyable. This also goes for Abraham who had to sacrifice his son.
Fom Job’s test, we learnt to completely trust God even if it seems like the world is crashing around about us. Understanding the story of Job, his trails, his loss, and restoration, helps the believer to hold on to faith in God.
Temptation vs Test: Was Jesus Tempted Or Tested?
Jesus, unlike Job, was tempted. After he had gone into the wilderness and had fasted for forty days and night, the devil came to Jesus. In all the accounts of the temptation of Jesus, The devil came with three temptations. Each temptation had to do with the three primary sins of man. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.
Many people question the fact that Jesus was tempted, because he is supposed to be God, and God cannot be tempted, neither does he tempt. In truth Jesus is God, but at the times he was on earth, he was God in form of man.
Jesus could not have fallen for his temptation. Why? Well James 1: 13-16 makes it quite clear that men are tempted after their lusts, but Jesus never really had anything to lust after asides the will of his father. As a result, he could not have fallen into temptation.
The fact that Jesus was tempted and that he overcame shows that first, we can overcome temptation, and also, that Jesus understands our situation when we go through temptations.
Temptation vs Test: What TEMPTATION Means
The temptation is the intentional enticement of a person, by some bait—usually pride, always self-gratifying—to disobey God’s revealed Word. The predicate may be demonic or fleshly, but the object is always the distortion of God’s world and the defiance of God’s mission in the world.
When we talk of temptation, the story of Adam and Eve readily comes to mind. They fell into the temptation of the devil to eat the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The temptation of Jesus was a chance for humans to be redeemed.
Temptation is unavoidable. The fact that Jesus was tempted goes to show that no man is above temptation.
Examples of Temptation
- Adam and Eve were tempted – (Genesis 3.)
- Joseph was tempted – (Genesis 39: 6-17.)
- Achan was tempted – (Joshua 7: 1.)
- David was tempted – (2nd Samuel 11: 1-27.)
- Jesus was tempted – (Mathew 4: 1-11, Mark 1: 12, Luke 4: 1-13.)
- Judas was tempted – (Mathew 26: 17-25, Mark 14: 17-21, Luke 22:47-53.)
Victory over Temptation
As believers, we should understand that God has made an escape for us when we get tempted. He will not let us get tempted beyond what we can bear. (1st Corinthians 10: 13)
We as believers have our parts to play. We are to
- Recognize the fact that temptations are inevitable.
- Prepare for temptations.
- Flee all appearances of evil.
- Trust in God and not in our flesh.
- Avoid idleness.
Temptation vs Test: What TEST Means
The major difference between what a test and temptation is the end results. The end result of a test is to strengthen the believer, while temptations are aimed at making the believer fail.
Tests are given by God, to strengthen an area of weakness of a believer. The more believers strive to pass God’s tests, the more there is growth for the believer.
God Test but Does not Tempt
(James 1: 13)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.
The apostle James clears all doubts on God’s position when it comes to temptations. This holds true throughout the bible, as examples of people who went through temptations were always tempted by the devil or his agents. Adam and Eve, Joseph, Samson, David, down to Jesus.
On the other hand, from our explanation on Tests, we understand that God tests his children. The results of God’s tests are always to cause growth, or increase of a particular virtue in the believer.
Examples of God’s Testing in the Bible
There are various examples of God’s test in the bible. Men of faith were tested at different points and the tests where aimed at birthing different virtues in them.
- Test of Patience – God tests men to help them and to draw out their weaknesses, turning them into strengths. A good example is Abraham. He waited for several years before he could get his first son.
- Test of Commitment – Abraham also comes to mind in this case. After his patience was tested by God, his commitment to God was also tested. God asked for the son he had waited for several years for, and he gave him to God without hesitation.
- Test of Love – This kind of test helps us to know who and what we value the most. Job’s love for God was tested throughout his sufferings, but he never wavered. His wife even told him to curse God and die, but he held steadfast to the love of God.
- Test of Faith. – Many times, believers think they have faith until it is tested. A good example of someone whose faith was tested and he overcame was Daniel. Daniel had faith in God that he would be rescued from the Den of Lions, and his faith held true.
- Test of Endurance – Only those who endure to the end will receive a crown. The journey of the believer is one of endurance. The Christian life is not a bed of roses. Paul is a good example of a believer who endures a lot for the sake of Christ and fellow believers. (2nd Corinthians 11: 24-27)
Conclusion Temptation vs Test
It is always important to keep in mind, that God doesn’t tempt anyone (James 1:13) rather he gives us tests; to help is exercise our freedom of choice, and to help us grow as believers.
When we are tempted, God always provides a way out. When we are tested, God always gives us the strength to go through the test.