Archive for September 20th, 2010

How does one reconcile the teaching of James 1:13-14 that God is not the source of temptation with the request in Matthew 6:13, “And do not lead us into temptation”?

As always, in dealing with alleged Bible descrepencies, context is king.

James 1:13-14 teaches that “Let no one who is tempted say, “I am tempted from God”, which means that God cannot tempt individuals.  Here “tempt” is understood as testing someone with the intention to see them fail morally and spiritually.  The basis for why God cannot tempt sinners is because of God’s character, being one who is not evil.  However, that does not mean the phenomenon of temptation does not exists, because verse 14 identifies the true source of temptation comes from within one’s own sinful desires.  While God is never the source of temptation, temptation from the source of our wicked desires does exists.  Looking at Matthew 6:13, one must first note that it does not contradict James 1:13 (in order to contradict it, it has to state the opposite of James 1:13, i.e., “God tempts me”).  Rather, one sees Matthew 6:13 as a prayer to God for help to ensure that one is not led into a test that we would fail.  The rest of Matthew 6:13 helps us further in reconciling the two portion of Scripture, because what this didactic prayer of Jesus means is understood in the following words of Jesus asking God “to rescue us from the evil one.”  While the evil one tempts us (he desire to see us fail), God wants us to face the test and come out faithful and obedient to him.  The prayer in Matthew 6:13 is not praying that God Himself won’t tempt us, as if it’s a possibility, but it is a prayer concerning protection from another agent of temptation, “the evil one”.

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