“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters.” – James 1:13-16.
Though they may feel the same, there is a distinct difference between a trial and a temptation. Discerning between moments of trials versus moments of temptation is an important element of the Christian life. The Book of James provides one of the most concise definitions of a trial. In James 1:2-3, the Bible says, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” So a trial is a testing of our faith. It is a moment used by God for our growth, and to draw us closer to Him. Trials come in many forms, but they typically come in the form of an outside force beyond the individual’s control. Illness, fire, accidents, and job loss are easily recognizable as bad moments in life. The Bible makes it clear to us that we will face the duality of both trials and temptations.
Temptation, by comparison, is internal. Individuals can only be tempted with that which is individually tempting to that person. Some struggle with stealing, some with lust, others with lying. Once again the book of James clarifies in chapter 1 verse 14, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” Temptation strikes where someone is weakest. God never tempts us: “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.” (James 1:13). The devil is behind every pull and persuasion toward temptation.
There is the promise for the tempted in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” The first step to victory over temptation is your attitude towards it, not to fear it, but by faith to accept it; the second step is this: to realize that in God there are limitless resources and power to overcome. Now, why is that so important? It is important because I know, as well as you do, that when the devil comes along with a tantalizing temptation that you remember that nothing is more powerful than your God. When you’re in Christ, sin shall no longer have dominion over you.
It can still be difficult to discern when we are being tempted, and when we are being tried. Sometimes the temptation comes in the trial, wanting to respond in anger, rather than in a Christ-like fashion. Go to God with your trials and temptations, and He will guide you best.
- How do you differentiate between trials and temptations?
- What can you do this week to avoid temptation in your life?