Why does God allow us to get into situations that make it easier for us to sin–that test our resolve to holiness? Jesus taught us to ask the Father, “lead us not into temptation,” yet there are times when people of faith seem especially placed in difficult spiritual spots. Why does God allow these situations?
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (Matthew 6:13 NASB)
First of all, let’s clarify: God doesn’t try to get anyone to sin–that’s just not what He’s like. James clearly states this:
“Whenever you feel tempted to do something bad, you should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you. Your desire grows inside you until it results in sin. Then the sin grows bigger and bigger and finally ends in death.” (James 1:13-15 ERV)
Yet God does, indeed, sometimes place us into situations in which we can prove ourselves–just look to His command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac!
But if God’s heart is not to cause us to fall, why does He do this? Well, let’s look again at Abraham. Why did God ask him to sacrifice Isaac? Of course, we know God didn’t want the death of Isaac, and He certainly didn’t want Abraham to disobey. So why did God place Him in such a terrible place? Did He really want Abraham to disobey? Of course not!
I am convinced the reason God does allow us situations of testing is for OUR OWN sake–for US to see we can resist sin and come out stronger on the other side of it. Abraham was about to become the patriarch of the nation of Israel–much would be required of Him; I believe God wanted Abraham to understand the strength of his faith; the extent of his commitment and loyalty; the degree of his love for God.
It’s the same for us. Whenever God places us in situations that test our resolve; our faith, commitment, loyalty, love–it is not because He wants us to stumble, but because He wants us to come out stronger on the other side, having experienced temptation and responded correctly!
So why did Jesus teach us to ask God to not lead us into temptation, if getting through difficult situations strengthen our faith? Being human as well as divine, He felt our humanity and weakness; remember that He Himself had gone through an intense period of teasing in the wilderness just prior to His public ministry. I believe He commanded us to ask this because He understood how difficult it is for us to navigate these situations of testing well. Yet ultimately, we can rest assured, knowing that, “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 NASB)
Lead us not into temptation! Thank You that You don’t ask the impossible of me; that You don’t place me in any situation except what others have and are also going through; that You will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able, but with the temptation will also provide a way of escape, so I can endure it and come out stronger on the other side! Amen.