Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
—James 1:13

As we look at Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness we learn about the source of temptation. Who was responsible for Jesus’s temptation? Luke 4:1 says Jesus was tempted by the devil, but it was the Holy Spirit who led Him into the wilderness in order to be tempted. Now, here is a key insight about difficult experiences. Difficulties that come into our lives can be both a test by God and a temptation by Satan.

God tests us in order to strengthen us, and Satan tempts us in order to destroy us. James explains the difference between a test and a temptation: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (1:2-3). Whenever God brings a difficult experience into your life, or even when He allows Satan to bring difficulty into your life, you can rejoice knowing that God is using those difficult times to strengthen you. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” The picture is of somebody who is being tempted and he says, “I might as well give in. God brought this temptation into my life.” And James says, “No! God is not trying to lead you into evil.” God may test us to strengthen us, but He never tempts us to destroy us. That is Satan’s business. A difficult experience that comes into your life can be either a test or a temptation, depending on your response to that difficult situation.

Let’s say, for example, God brings financial difficulty into your life or allows Satan to bring financial difficulty in your life. Is that a test or temptation? Well, if you use that experience to cause you to trust God more, then that was a good experience. It’s a test. It strengthened you. But if that financial pressure caused you to steal or to cheat on your taxes, then it became a temptation for you. God was hoping that pressure would strengthen you. God designed it as a test. Satan was hoping it would destroy you. He used it as a temptation.

Was Jesus’s experience in the wilderness a test or a temptation? It was both. God led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for a good purpose. He wanted to show the world that Jesus was the authentic Son of God. Not only that, but the fact that Jesus was tempted also means He can be our sympathetic High Priest who was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Satan, on the other hand, tempted Jesus to destroy Him. If he could get Jesus to sin, then Jesus would no longer be able to die for our sins; He would have to die for His own sins. So it was both a test by God and a temptation by Satan. These were very real temptations for Jesus. Even though they were at a higher level than our temptations, they still fall within the same general areas that our temptations come in.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “When the Devil Comes Knocking” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2004.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

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