In the Epistle of James we read “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.” (James 1:13). However, doesn’t that contradict the fact that God tempted Abraham, Job and Paul?
Adam’s Sin Resulted in the Corruption of Nature, and in Pain
Death came into existence as a consequence of not following God’s commandments and guidance for a happy, eternal and painless life. Yet man disobeyed God and followed Satan’s temptations. God warned man of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2: 16,17).
The consequences of the fall were not only death but also a corrupted sinful nature which resulted in pain. God told Adam: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19).
Therefore, the original sin that man freely committed has caused the earth to be cursed and also made living on it to be painful until the time of death.
Satan tempts us, and God allows it for a Purpose
But hasn’t God tempted Job beyond measure and caused him physical and psychological pain? In the Book of Job for example “Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil? And still he holds fast to his integrity, although you incited Me against him, to destroy him without cause.” So, Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand, but spare his life. (Job 2:3-6).
It is clear from this passage that it was Satan that tempted Job, yet Satan first needed the permission from God to tempt Job.
Therefore, if we’re being tempted, we can be sure that God has allowed the temptations for a specific reason. In the case of Job, he was taught to be humble, he received double of everything he had (Job 42:12), and he saw God (Job 42:5). The same can be said of Paul who was tempted by Satan “lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7)
But didn’t God tempt Abraham?
God’s request to Abraham to sacrifice his son is not temptation by evil. There was no painful outcome to this temptation whether Abraham obeyed God or not. Had Abraham not obeyed God, his son Isaac would have continued to live, and had he obeyed, which he did, God redeemed Isaac and no harm had befell the boy (Genesis 22:12)
In conclusion, temptation and pain are the result of the fallen nature that man freely brought upon himself. Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires. “When desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin. And when sin becomes full-grown, it brings forth death” (James 1:13-17). God does not tempt us with evil, yet He allows our temptation by Satan for a good purpose.