Trials and Temptations

“…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from temptations…” (2 Peter 2:9, NASB)

I hadn’t ever heard it put that way before. I could use a God like that because, frankly, I can’t rescue myself from temptations.

I know me. I know my flesh. I know the allure temptations have. I know my propensity to sin and my weak will to resist sin. I know my success rate at rescuing myself from temptations is embarrassingly low (like, 0%).

Because I know these things, I also know that any time I ever successfully resist temptation, it is only because the Lord enables me to do so. And He only enables me to do so because He is gracious.

There is nothing good in me. But out of His perfect love, He gives me the desire to obey Him (I can’t even muster that up myself…) and then empowers me to do so.

I pulled up the verse in the NIV and ESV and it read, “…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials…”

What’s the difference between temptations and trials?

I’m not sure this is right, but here’s an idea I’ll lob out there for our consideration.

I think temptations are bad things we have a choice to be a part of or not. And trials are bad things we find ourselves in whether we want to be there or not. 

In other words, we (our sinful natures) happen to temptations, and trials happen to us.

For example, when we feel the pull to boast about something, that is a temptation. Our sinful natures take over and taint an otherwise good thing. Being successful at righteous things is an inherently good thing. But when we toot our own horns for the purpose of manipulating others to praise us or envy us, we mar that which was good. Excessive pride is a bad thing we choose to be a part of; it happens because of us.

On the other hand, when you’re laid off because your company is down-sizing, that is a trial. Assuming you are a good employee, you did nothing to warrant the lay off. No one asked you if you’d mind losing your job; they just took it from you. Nothing you could have done or not done would’ve changed the fact that you are now unemployed. Being laid off is a bad thing none of would choose; it happens to us.

So when the NASB says God knows how to rescue us from temptations, I think it is saying God knows how to help us not do stupid things. And He will, if we ask Him to… (That’s the catch, isn’t it? Too often we don’t ask Him and just go forth in our own stupidity and sin…probably because we don’t really want to overcome temptation in the first place.)

And when the NIV and ESV say God knows how to rescue us from trials, I think they are saying God knows how to help us through and out of tough circumstances we didn’t bring on ourselves.

In both cases, I am glad God has the necessary knowledge to help me out. I am also glad He is willing to help me if I want Him to. He is not not in control. He will act on His knowledge when the time is right. That brings me peace.

“…the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from temptations and trials…”

2 thoughts on “Trials and Temptations

  1. As you are aware the Greek word for trials and tribulations is peirismos. Translators to English varied its meaning depending on the context in which the text was written. As we believe temptations are from satin and not from God. Trials are tests from God. Correct ??

    Rick Levatino


    • I am not familiar with the Greek.I think trial and tribulation are synonymous, but trial and temptation aren’t. Would have to look up the Greek definition to see if temptation is also included.

      I have heard it said, as you say here, temptations are from Satan and trials are from God. That could very well be correct.

      Just thinking out loud: if Satan did not exist, would I still sin? I think I would because I would still have a fallen nature. I just choose to do wrong things sometimes, even without Satan’s baiting. I think it’s possible he is not behind every single temptation. Sometimes I tempt myself because my nature is broken (James 1:16 confirms this). Sometimes other humans tempt me because their natures are broken.

      James 1 says trials are tests but does not say explicitly that they are FROM God… There are explicit verses in the OT that say God tested people (Exodus 16, Deuteronomy 8, 2 Chronicles 32), but those verses aren’t clear that those tests were via trials. James does say God does not tempt us.

      God is certainly in charge of every single thing in our lives, so I think it is possible He directly causes some trials in our lives. I think it is also possible, as with temptations, that He merely “allows” some trials to happen to us. Sometimes He allows us to be in bad circumstances others – Satan and humans – create for us.

      The tricky part about saying that anything is or isn’t “from God” is we soon find ourselves in a discussion about God’s sovereignty and His wills – perfect and permissive. In one sense, God is behind EVERYTHING – temptations, trials, etc. He is sovereign, and only what He allows or causes to happen happens. In that way, everything we experience is “from God”. But He is also holy and is not the author of evil. So we don’t want to saddle Him with the responsibility for tempting us to sin (and James won’t allow us to). God “allows” Satan to tempt us or our own natures to tempt us. In that sense, temptation is not “from God”.

      Thinking is fun! 🙂

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