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Temptation and Testing

Oscar Wilde famously quipped, “I can resist everything except temptation.”

It’s the cringe kind of funny, isn’t it? We laugh uncomfortably because it hits so close to home.

Temptation is hard to resist.

It’s no wonder Jesus included it in the prayer He taught us.

“Lead us not into temptation.”

The Greek word translated as “temptation” is peirasmos. It can mean “temptation.” But it can also mean “test.”

So, before we can really dive into what we’re praying here, we need to understand the difference between being tempted and being tested - because we know God can never tempt anyone to sin, but we do see Him test people.

The difference lies in the motivation – the intent.

Temptation comes from the Enemy. He wants us to fail.

Testing comes from God. He wants us to succeed.

The Bible affirms the existence of an Enemy – one who stands in total opposition to God and to the people of God. He is a created being that rebelled against God. He is, indeed, powerful, but he is still a creature under the rulership of the Creator. He can do nothing that God does not allow. And what God allows, He allows for our good and for His glory.

When God allows the Enemy to tempt us, He does so in order to test us.

The Enemy wants us to rebel against our God.

Our God wants us to prove faithful to Him.

We’ll talk more about what, exactly, Jesus is calling us to pray later on.

But, for now, let’s reconsider how we think about temptation.

Every temptation is a test. Every test is an opportunity for God to reveal and form our character.

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