But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).

james 1:14 amp

Charming, isn’t it.

That is a play on words. Temptation is charming, captivating, enticing; drawing you into it’s trap; reasoning with your convictions; whispering ‘what harm can thisssss little bit of fun do?’ (emphasis on the ‘s’ because if temptation had to take any form, I’d imagine it to be a snake).

This is a topic I have been dwelling on for the last couple of weeks and one that I’m finding increasingly fascinating. It seems that temptation, like death and taxes, is something humans will inevitably face.

My interest in this topic was spurred when I was reading the book of Luke and I came to Chapter 4, which talks about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan. I’ve been sitting in this chapter for a few weeks now, pouring over the temptations recorded and how Jesus disarmed them.

There is so much we can learn from the way He handled the temptations presented to Him and undid any power they would have over Him. I want to know more about His methods and learn more about temptation, which is why I’m delving into Luke 4 in the next few posts.

Another thing I’ve contemplated while being in this chapter, was why these would have been temptations for Jesus. Surely, with Jesus being perfect and fully God yet fully man, He would not have had anything to be tempted for. If temptation is the drawing away by our own evil desire, as James 1:14 says, surely this of no application to Jesus, who had no evil in Him.

But even so, the Bible says Jesus was tempted.

So, what exactly is temptation?

Merriam-Webster defines temptation as “an act of tempting or the state of being tempted especially to evil“. (To help the above definition, tempting refers to something that has an appeal).

I’ve also gone to my trusty Strong’s Concordance to learn what the Greek meaning is. There are predominantly two Greek words used in the New Testament when referring to temptation: peirazo (Strong’s Greek 3985) and peirasmos (Strong’s Greek 3986).

Peirazo refers to testing something to reveal what is inside. This could be whether something is good or bad, strong or weak, for example. (When I read this, one of my first thoughts went to cooking. When roasting a chicken, one way to test whether it’s ready is to pierce the breast. If the juices run clear it is ready; if the juices run pink, it needs a bit more time in the oven. I test the chicken to see what is inside. We are a lot more complex than roast chickens, but you get the idea).

Peirasmos refers to trials people face that have either a good purpose, e.g. causing a believer to enter into greater purification, or a bad purpose, e.g. causing a believer to sin (the latter would be temptations as more commonly understood).

In an attempt to summarise the above:

  • every temptation/trial sets out to reveal what is on the inside of something (peirazo), but
  • the motives of temptations/trials can be good or evil (peirasmos)

For the sake of clarity, in the posts following I will refer to ‘temptations’ with good motives as trials, and ‘temptations’ with evil motives as temptations. (I really hope this doesn’t get any more confusing).

In the next post I will be exploring the first recorded temptation Jesus faced:

If you are the Son of God, command this stone to turn into bread…

Luke 4:3 amp

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