Temptations Good and Bad

Did you know that Jesus was tempted and Jesus also tempted Philip? Temptation alone is neither good or bad. Temptation alone is not sinful. To understand temptation, we can look at several passages about the different aspects of temptation. Temptations Good and Bad.

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Section One

Jesus Tempted Philip

This He was saying to tempt him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do.

John 6:6

1.1 Jesus Tempted Philip. Jesus tempted Philip to have faith in Jesus and His plans for feeding the multitude. 1Jesus used the participle πειράζων (present active participle, nominative masculine singular). Some people claim that Jesus was “testing” Philip, to avoid any hint that Jesus was “tempting” Philip. Such translations misunderstand that basic meaning of the verb tempt (πειράζω (present active indicative, first singular)). The basic verb means to urge someone to do something. Because “God tempts no one,” some people immediately and wrongly conclude that Jesus could not have tempted anyone. To resolve the issues concerning God and temptation, we must look at other uses of the term “tempt” in various place in the New Testament. Temptations Good and Bad.

1.2 Temptation Tied to Intention.  Jesus was not tempting Philip to sin, and was not appealing to the lustful desires of Philip. John tied Jesus tempting Philip to the phrase “He Himself knew what He was intending to do.”  Therefore, to understand the temptation we must understand the intentions of Jesus in tempting Philip. Jesus “knew what He was intending to do.” He already had a plan to feed thousands by the power and grace of God. Jesus aimed to build up Philip’s faith in the power of God to solve human problems. In this context, Jesus tempted Philip to have faith in the power and grace of God. In other words, Jesus was urging Philip to overcome his human thinking and doubts and trust God’s power and grace to feed a multitude. Jesus urged Philip to trust Jesus to glorify God. Temptations Good and Bad.

1.3 Source of Temptation. The source of the temptation was the desire of Jesus to expand the faith of Philip and help him trust the power of God.

1.4 Target of Temptation. The target of the temptation was that the faith of Philip would be focused upon the power of God (as revealed in Jesus) to feed a multitude.

1.5  Summary of Jesus Tempting Philip

     ♦ Temptations and Intentions go together.

     ♦ To understand the temptation, we must first understand the source of the temptation: good or evil.

     ♦ To understand the temptation, we must first understand the target of the temptation: good or evil.

     ♦ Not all temptations arise from evil or seek to produce evil.

     ♦ Some temptations promote good in our lives.

     ♦ Jesus tempted Philip to grow Philip’s faith, but Jesus never tempted anyone to sin.


Section Two

God Tempts No One

Let no one being tempted  say that, from God I am being tempted. For the God is of bads untemptable. Now God Himself tempts no one. 

James 1:13

2.1 God Tempts No One. James, under the inspiration of God, wrote that God tempts no one. 2James provided: “13 μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος λεγέτω ὅτι ἀπὸ θεοῦ πειράζομαι· ὁ γὰρ θεὸς ἀπείραστός ἐστιν κακῶν, πειράζει δὲ αὐτὸς οὐδένα. 14 ἕκαστος δὲ πειράζεται ὑπὸ τῆς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας ἐξελκόμενος καὶ δελεαζόμενος· 15 εἶτα ἡ ἐπιθυμία συλλαβοῦσα τίκτει ἁμαρτίαν, ἡ δὲ ἁμαρτία ἀποτελεσθεῖσα ἀποκύει θάνατον. Many people read that God tempts no one and wrongly conclude that Jesus must not have tempted anyone, because Jesus was God. Yet, John, writing under the inspiration of God, described Jesus as tempting Philip and used the same root term “tempted” (πειράζω) which James used to write God tempts no one. 3John used the participle πειράζων (present active participle, nominative masculine singular) and ἀπείραστός (adjective, nominative masculine singular) and πειράζει (present active indicative, third singular). James used the term πειράζομαι (present middle/passive indicative, first singular). James also used other terms directly related to temptation: πειραζόμενος (present middle/passive participle, nominative masculine singular).  Therefore, we must understand that the term “tempt” in its various forms does not always mean tempt to do evil. The context of the usage must determine the meaning of the temptation. Furthermore, because God inspired the words in the original autographs of the Bible, we must be careful not to translate the same original word with different English words which mean very different things. For example, some people translate John 6:6 as Jesus “tested” Philip to avoid Jesus “tempting” anyone. Such attempts must fail because God used the same root word in both passages. In the same way God tempts no one to do evil, Jesus tempted Philip to have faith in God. Temptations Good and Bad. Remember Eternal Life.

2.2 Temptation To Sin. Therefore, we know that Jesus tempted Philip. We also know that Jesus is God and always has been God and always will be God. Therefore, how do we reconcile (a) Jesus tempting Philip with (b) God tempts no one?  God used the same root term (πειράζω)  to describe both (a) Jesus tempting Philip and (b) God tempts no one. The answer, as usual, lies in the text at issue. James 1:13 shows that God does not tempt people to do evil. James actually identifies the source of the temptation as “bads” (“κακῶν”), referring to spiritually evil things. Therefore, we know that James described a specific temptation from bads to do bads. James focused upon the temptation within man arising from being enticed (δελεαζόμενος) and being drawn out (ἐξελκόμενος) under his own desire (ἐπιθυμίας).  Temptations Good and Bad.

2.3 Source of Temptation. James identified the source of some temptations as our own bad desires, enticing us and drawing us to do bad things.

2.4 Target of TemptationJames described ourselves as the targets of the temptation, where we give in to our own desires and we do bad things.

2.5  Summary of God Tempts No One.

     ♦ Some temptations come from bads. 

     ♦ Some temptations arise from being enticed and drawn by our own bads desires. 

     ♦ When the source of temptation is bads, then the temptation is bads and not from God. 

     ♦ When the target of the temptation is bads, then the temptation is bads and not from God.


Section Three

God Controls Temptation

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

3.1 Man Temptations. Paul wrote, under the inspiration of God, that we all experience mankind temptation (ἀνθρώπινος πειρασμὸς). The temptation has taken hold of us (εἴληφεν–perfect active indicative, third singular). The temptation relates to the sin of Adam we all share (Romans 5:12) and all were made sinners (Romans 5:19), causing all of us to sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Although we continue to sin while walking in the light with Jesus, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) 

3.2 God Faithful Regarding Temptations. As sin holds people in its tight grip, God remains faithful (πιστὸς). He never allows (ἐάσει–future active indicative, third singular) us to be tempted (πειρασθῆναι–aorist passive infinitive) beyond what we can power (δύνασθε) at that moment. We remain confident in the power of God to limit all temptations so that they never exceed our power to deny the urging to sin. Remember, God never tempts anyone to sin. 

3.3 Way of Escape. Using an adversative (ἀλλὰ), God always will do (ποιήσει–future active indicative, third singular) a way of escape (ἔκβασιν) with the temptation (σὺν τῷ πειρασμῷ), so that we to power (δύνασθαι–present middle/passive infinitive) to endure (ὑπενεγκεῖν–aorist active infinitive)  the temptation.  Temptations Good and Bad.

3.4 Source of Temptation. Because (a) the devil tempts us to sin just as he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:15), and (b) our desires tempt us to sin (James 1:13-14), we know that the source of temptation stems from the devil or from our own lusts, or both, but the temptation we face remains a fact of being human, and we are by nature children of wrath (Ephesians 2:2-3), until we have been born-again into the family of God by grace through faith in Jesus (John 3:3; 1 John 3:9).

3.5 Target of TemptationAlthough God limits each temptation to sin to what we can bear, the target of temptation to sin remains something bads. God promised to provide the way of escape, so that we may power through the temptation.

     ♦ God limits all temptations to sin. 

     ♦ Temptations to sin face all humankind.

     ♦ God remains faithful during our temptations.

     ♦ God never tempts us beyond our power to deny the temptation to sin.

     ♦ God always provides a way of escape from the temptation to sin, so that we may endure it.


Section Four

Jesus Tempted

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

4.1 SympathizeAs our sinless High Priest, Jesus never sinned. He did not need to offer sacrifices for His own sin, but for our sin. Jesus powering (present middle/passive participle, accusative masculine singular) to sympathize (συμπαθῆσαι) with our weakness because He was tempted down all things (κατὰ πάντα). 

4.2 Weaknesses. Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses (ἀσθενείαις), including our physical and spiritual weaknesses. Temptations Good and Bad.

4.3 Tempted All Things. Having been tempted (perfect middle/passive participle, accusative masculine singular), Jesus, on that basis, sympathizes with our weaknesses. Just as temptations to sin come to all mankind, so also Jesus faced the temptations of mankind.

4.4 Without Sin. Having been tempted in all sins of mankind, Jesus never sinned. Therefore, we understand that temptation to sin is never sinful in itself, because Jesus was tempted, but never sinned. So, people should never confuse temptation with the act of sinning. Temptation to sin must not be equated automatically with sin itself. Yet, when someone tempts you to sin, then that temptation is sinful. Consider Peter rebuking Jesus for disclosing that He intended to suffer many things and be killed and raised on the third day. Jesus said that Peter had set his mind not on God’s interests, but man’s and so presented a stumbling block to Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23; see also Luke 17:1-4). 

4.5 ConfidenceBecause Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses, we come with boldness (παρρησίας) to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and grace and we may find help into the good-epoch.

4.6 Source of Temptation. The source of temptation to sin comes from our physical and spiritual weaknesses.

4.7 Target of Temptation. The target of temptation to sin focuses upon our relationship to Jesus, our High Priest. The temptation to sin seeks to exploit our weaknesses, so that sin impedes our relationship with Jesus, even as He sympathizes with our weaknesses. 

4.8 Summary of Jesus Tempted

     ♦ Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses.  

     ♦ Jesus was tempted in all things as we are. 

     ♦ Jesus invites us to come with boldness to the throne of grace.

    ♦ Jesus provides help when we need it during the temptation to sin.



In conclusion, temptation refers to an urging to do good or bad. Jesus tempted Philip to trust God and feed a multitude by grace through faith. The devil and our own desires tempt us to sin. As we face temptations common to mankind, we may boldly approach the throne of grace to find help in that time of temptation. We can believe in God’s faithfulness, knowing He will never allow us to be tempted beyond our power to escape from temptation. As we are tempted, we believe that Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin. He sympathizes with our weaknesses and helps us escape temptation by His power. By itself, being tempted never amounts to sin, because Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are, but remained sinless. When we sin as  a result of temptation, then we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. We live in His unfailing love, even we we fall into sin. Jesus never leaves us or forsakes us. Our faith overcomes the world and its evils. Temptations Good and Bad.


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