Temptation

The Greek neipáZ« means to test or to make trial, and is used about fifty times in the New Testament. It may signify probing to ascertain character and virtue (Matt. 6:13; Luke 4:2; John 6:6; 2 Cor. 13:5) or to reveal weakness and evil (Gal. 6:1). God cannot be tempted in the way of evil (note the negative compound apeirastos of James 1:13). The general classifications of testing in the Bible are:

1. Of Men. a. Temptations may prove a solicitation to evil (1 Cor. 7:5; 10:13; Gal. 6:1; 1 Thess. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:9; James 1:14).

b. Testing may also come in the direction of virtue itself (Gen. 22:1; Matt. 6:13; 26:41; Gal. 4:14; Heb. 11:37; James 1:2, 12; 1 Pet. 1:6; 2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 3:10) .

2. Of God. Scripture has declared it twenty-seven times that God was put to the test. God is not tempted by solicitation to evil (James 1:13), but He may be tried as happened in Acts 15:10 and as Christ was tested (which it will be shown was not to find evil in Him, but to prove His virtue).

b. God the Son (Luke 4:1-13; Heb. 2:18; 4:15; cf. John 14:30).

3. Of Christ. a. Here it is necessary to distinguish between "able not to sin" and "not able to sin." Impeccability means the latter. Christ alone among men was not able to sin.

b. Christ was theanthropic, possessing both human and divine natures. The divine nature, to be sure, is neither peccable nor temptable (James 1:13). Some teach accordingly that the impeccability was due to His omnipotence and omniscience, or having infinite power and wisdom to maintain holiness. In other words, He was not able to sin because of the divine nature.

c. His other nature, by reason of being human, was both peccable and temptable, even apart from the influence of a fallen, sin nature which He necessarily did not share with the race (Heb. 4:15); but of course what His human nature might have produced had it been alone and unsupported by the divine is only conjecture. The human element in Christ certainly was never separated from the divine; still, the divine proved ever the dominant factor in His theanthropic being. He was not a man, then, to whom the divine nature had been added. He rather was God, who took upon Him by incarnation the form of a man. He became thereafter an indivisible Person. Whatever either nature did, His whole being did. No other such person ever existed and there will never be another. Because of the presence of His divine nature with manhood, then, He is incomparable. He could not be rendered peccable by the presence of His human nature: instead He was an impeccable, theanthropic Person. Had His humanity sinned, God would have sinned. A wire may be bent when alone, but not after it is welded into an unbendable bar of steel. His humanity could not contradict or dishonor His Deity.

d. If He, nevertheless in virtue of being both divine and human, was at the same time both omnipotent and impotent, omniscient and ignorant, infinite and finite, unlimited and limited, could it not be truthfully said that He was both impeccable and peccable? As human, it may be replied, He could be impotent, ignorant, finite, and limited without compromising Deity in the matter of sin; but He could hardly be peccable without so doing. And actually He did suffer weakness, pain, hunger, thirst, weariness, and even death, but without compromising Deity in sin.

e. An impeccable person can be tempted in the same sense that an unconquerable city may be attacked. Christ was tempted, but through it only proved to everyone His impeccability. Being God, after all, He could not sin (cf. John 14:30).

f. If peccable on earth, He would be peccable also in heaven (Heb. 13:8). How well, then, would the Christian's standing and security be grounded?

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  • tiia ojala
    What is temptation Theology?
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