The Two-Fold Nature of Temptation
The word temptation is used in a twofold sense in the Scripture. First, to denote a test, a challenge, or a trial, as in Gen. 22:1, where we read, “And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham.” Also in Rev. 3 :10, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” When “God did tempt Abraham,” there was no solicitation nor enticement to evil; it was purely a test and trial of his faith, in the offering up of his only son Isaac.
But the more common use of the word temptation, as understood by the Christian world of today, refers to a satanic prompting or enticement to evil. It is in this use of the term that James says (chapter 1: v. 13), “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man” — to evil.
Since there is no experience in grace, and no vocation, situation or place in this world in which the Christian is promised immunity or exemption from temptation, it is well for us to understand and know some things about this subject; and always to heed the warning and admonition of the Savior when He said, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation” (Matt. 26:41).
Some Christians have supposed that if they were sanctified wholly they would henceforth have no more trials or temptations, and would have nothing to do but to rejoice and shout the high praises of God; but they soon become disillusioned, for it is likely they will now experience more intense, if not more frequent, assaults from the enemy than ever before. This is on the principle that burglars will make a more determined effort to burglarize a mansion known to possess great wealth and riches, than they would to burglarize some vacant or dilapidated shack. We think there are some persons whom Satan does not annoy or tempt very much because he knows they do not possess anything of value, and he is reasonably sure of them anyway; why should he tempt such? But when the soul becomes the custodian of heaven’s riches, and becomes a multimillionaire in spiritual treasures, having a good supply of the “gold tried in the fire,” it should not be thought strange if the old thief would be found prowling about those premises; but the sanctified soul has improved safety devices, and more capital to run his business; more power of resistance.
When the matter is properly understood, such a one can readily “count it all joy” when he falls “into divers temptations” (James 1:2); for if the devil is after you, it proves most conclusively that he doesn’t have you; and it proves that you are still ahead; and it proves that Satan knows that you have something worth while, or he would not seek to rob you; and because of the temptation you will become stronger and more useful in the kingdom of God. Yes, you can actually get happy because the devil is after you; always remembering that “God is faithful, who will not suffer [will not allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).