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Temptation: What is Temptation? How are People Tempted in the Bible?


Jesus with Satan

Jesus with Satan

What is Temptation?:

In the Bible, temptation is a test or trial designed give a subject the opportunity to do evil and sin against God. Sometimes the point is to confuse the subject about what good and evil really are. Sometimes the point is to simply see if they truly understand what good and evil are in the first place. Sometimes God does the tempting, sometimes Satan is given this task.

Destroying Temptation:

If something is too tempting, there is sometimes the urge to destroy the source of temptation and thus alleviate the guilt for being tempted. Too often, though, other people have been identified as the source of temptation. Israelites, for example, saw other tribes as sources of temptation to turn away from God and therefore sought to destroy them. Christians at times saw non-Christians as sources of temptation, for example in the Crusades or the Inquisition.

Tempting God:

Although most biblical examples of temptation involve humans, there are times when God is tempted. Enemies of Israel, for example, challenge God to punish them for their attacks on his chosen people. Jesus refuses to “test” or tempt God and Christians are advised not to test God by engaging in improper conduct.

Valuing Temptation:

There are arguments in the Christian tradition that temptation actually has value and should not be shunned too strongly. If there is no temptation, then are no opportunities to overcome temptation and thereby strengthen one’s faith. Where is the value in celibacy, for example, if one never experiences any temptations to sexual behavior? By struggling and overcoming temptation, one can feel as though they are engaged in self-improvement.

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