Why does God allow temptation?
MOST OF US HATE TEMPTATION BUT IF GOD ALLOWS IT, WE KNOW IT IS FOR OUR GOOD
Temptation is Meant For Good
Temptation is meant for our good. We might think of temptation as only something bad and much of the time it is because it can cause us to sin… but that is only because we didn’t take recourse to God’s grace: the strength we need to avoid sinning, and accept it into our souls.
Some of us have been deceived into believing that God doesn’t lead us into temptation, since He doesn’t want us to sin. And if we don’t have the grace to understand The Truth from a lie that may seem right. But that simply isn’t true.
God allows and even leads us into temptation for the good of our souls, as explained in this article.
Please know, we don’t ask God to ‘lead us not into temptation”, as in the Lord’s prayer, if He doesn’t even do such a thing (doesn’t lead us to be tempted). That would be a waste of words… but every word we pray in the Lord’s Prayer is most certainly true and correct. Therefore, God does lead us into temptation. We just need to come to understand what we should be thinking when we pray that… since the full meaning is vailed like much of The Word is.
Again, the reason we don’t understand is from the deceiver getting to us. But, we don’t need to be deceived, since we know all God allows is for our ultimate good. Therefore, temptation must be good too. Please don’t be deceived.
“But how is this so?”, we might ask. “If temptation is ‘good’, why are we asking God to not allow us/lead us to be tempted?”
Ok, that is a great question. The reason we ask God to not lead us into temptation isn’t because we don’t want what God desires for us–which is to be tempted. Of course, we want His will. If He wants us to be tempted, we want that too. God’s will is The Way to Heaven. We just don’t want to fall into sin… and that is what we pray for. Not that we can’t ask God to remove a temptation… but we only want that done, if it is in accord with His will.
Therefore, since we want to love God and not sin, when we pray, “lead us not into temptation,” we are in fact asking God to “lead us not into [the] temptation[s] [we don’t have the grace to avoid sinning]”, because we DON’T WANT TO OFFEND GOD. Therefore, we are asking God to give us strength to not fall into sin with the temptations He wills us to bear.
Blessings from Temptation
There are many blessing that come from God allowing us to be tempted and even leading us into temptation, which is why it occurs.
One of the blessings of temptation is to test our faith.
For example: Let’s say you are trying to leave the sin of immorality and you have been avoiding a person you know which leads you into sinning. You have avoided this person because to amend our sins, we need to avoid/remove occasions of sin (avoid/remove what causes us to sin).
“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna” (Matthew 5:29).
Avoiding what causes us to sin is very important. But please know, there is a difference with something that leads us into temptation and something that leads us into sinning.
Temptations for the strong in faith don’t cause us to sin. Temptations for those lacking grace do. Therefore, it isn’t the temptation which is bad, it is really the sin.
Let’s say you have done all you can to avoid this person, which leads you into sinning, since you have been proven to be weak and lacking grace to not sin when around them (tempted).
But, you haven’t seen this person for a while and now you think you are strong enough in grace to not commit immorality and are no longer attached to it.
One day, while shopping for groceries, you notice the person who is in front of you in line is the very person you have spent much effort to avoid. Now, emotions run through your mind as you fear you might offend God, so you stop and pray for strength to not sin.
As you know, God allows all for the good of our soul and apparently He led you right into this temptation to test you, so you can see if you are now really strong enough in grace to avoid sinning.
This test lets you know if you are still attached to this sin or not. Lacking grace and being attached to any sin is a very deadly problem. Therefore, if you think you are free of an attachment, you surely want to know if you really are. Because if you are deceived (which easily happens), that attachment will cause your damnation if you don’t detach before your death.
Please know, God’s doesn’t test us for His benefit. He already knows everything. His tests, from temptations or anything else, are to help us.
From God’s tests, we learn the truth about ourselves, so if we fail our test, we can look into other aspects of our life, to see if something else we are doing (impure things we watch, wear, etc.) are causing us to still linger in this sin and so we can remove them and continue to seek mercy for help in regards to our immorality. If we pass, we know we have much of Jesus’s grace in us and have done well with removing what has been tainting us. Praise God!
Without tests of our faith, we would remain blind to who we really are and never advance into a saving faith.
We never want to tell God we don’t want His tests, since these tests God allows are invaluable for our soul in leading us to salvation (for those who can be trained by them).
I could give a million examples of the wonders of spiritual growth that come through temptation. What we need to do is look for and learn from our temptations (successes and failures) and how they can help us eliminate our sins.
There are tests of faith (temptations) occurring over and over in The Word and in our lives. And if we knew how to look to see them and could learn from them, they would move us towards Life.
Also, if we aren’t being tempted or if God doesn’t lead us into temptation (doesn’t test us) and we need to test our faith to see if we are in fact detached from a sin we have been striving to reject, then we should lead ourselves into temptation to see if we can pass or fail our test.
“Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
If we don’t fall into sin, we understand we are strong enough in our faith (God’s grace) to avoid the sin and can praise God. If we do fall into sin, we can praise God for allowing us to see the truth –and know we are still weak and very well might still be attached to the sin–so we can seek Him for more grace and a greater desire to truly turn from the sin.
“We should be grateful to the Lord our God, for putting us to the test, as he did our forefathers. Recall how he dealt with Abraham, and how he tried Isaac, and all that happened to Jacob in Syrian Mesopotamia while he was tending the flocks of Laban, his mother’s brother.
Not for vengeance did the Lord put them in the crucible to try their hearts, nor has he done so with us. It is by way of admonition [so we can see our wrongs] that he chastises those who are close to him.” (Judith 8:25-27).
Yes, temptation actually helps to save our souls. So even though we might beg God to remove it, much of the time it is most necessary for the salvation of our souls.
The Bible has given us a clear example of St. Paul who three times asked God to remove a temptation/trial that was constantly bothering him. St. Paul most likely didn’t ask God to remove his temptation because he didn’t want to suffer from the temptation nor did he ask God to remove it because he didn’t want God’s will. We know he only desired God’s will.
By this time in St. Paul’s spiritual journey, he was rejoicing in his suffering (fully understood the blessing in the cross), so seeking God multiple times to try to remove a cross/temptation, so he wouldn’t have to suffer or to do God’s will, most likely wouldn’t be a prayer he would have prayed.
Even though I do have to say, by nature some times do want to run from suffering… at least great suffering… at least for a moment as a natural reflex. Who likes to suffer? Even those greatly advanced in faith will naturally want to draw back from great pain, if there is another way (if it isn’t necessary). ” ” ( ). It is part of our human nature… but along with responding to our nature, when we follow Christ we also only want our suffering to leave if it is God’s will.
But when St. Paul made an analogy of his pain to a thorn in his side, and not something more significant in anguish, it would be safe to assume he wasn’t seeking Mercy three times to avoid something so small as a thorn, when he joyfully bore so much more pain.
It seems much more realistic that St. Paul, from having a great horror for sin, was seeking God to remove a temptation/trial, so he wouldn’t fall into a horrible sin, since he would rather suffer death than sin.
“Therefore, that I might not become too elated [become proud/confident over my successful rejection of sinning], a thorn in the flesh [temptation] was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me [to tempt me], to keep me from being too elated [to humble me]. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me [since I couldn’t bear to sin], but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [to avoid sinning], for power is made perfect in weakness [in realizing how easily I fall, so l would humbly rely on God and not myself]” (2 Corinthians 12:7-8).
But we, like Paul, who lack the wisdom of God, ask God for many things that simply aren’t what is best for our souls salvation (not God’s will).
As we can see, God, in His wisdom, rejected Paul’s plea to remove the temptation (thorn), since being tempted was the greatest good (God’s will). Being tempted/tried in such a way had many benefits for Paul’s soul… for one thing, it helped to humble him, especially if he fell into sin over and over again. Frequent falls let us know how weak we are and how much we needed constant grace to avoid sinning.
This is the key to all humility. So, the more we fall, the more humble we are supposed to become… seeing more and more clearly how we need God’s grace at all moments to keep us from living for our self-loving will. In which should turn our hearts to learning how to pray constantly, so God’s constant grace can assist us.
Of course, as God said, to St. Paul, His grace would be more than enough for Him to avoid sinning, that is if he could learn how to give himself completely to God, so to accept the grace, which, as we know from the great sanctity he acquired, he eventually did. Therefore, the blessing that was meant for St. Paul from that temptation was obtained. Praise God.
To Gain Self-Knowledge
Without coming to know our nothingness… how much we need Jesus, His grace, to prevent us from sinning, we will live proud blind lives. We live thinking our relationship with God, our knowledge of the faith, our prayers and works is what makes us “good.” When non of those things make us anything. God and His grace alone, moving us/working through us is the only why our naturally self-loving beings can do good.
Therefore, the temptations God allows are meant for us to more clearly see how weak we are (if we sin), to see His strength working through us (if we don’t) and to motivate us to grow in desire to do what is necessary to change so we can accept God’s grace–His strength–and avoid our sins.
“My love permits these temptations… I let him [the devil] tempt, through love and not through hatred, that you may conquer and not that you many be conquered, and that you may come to a perfect knowledge of yourself, and of Me, and that virtue may be proved, for it is not proved except by its contrary. You see, then that he is… to exercise and prove virtue in the soul. Not that it is the intention of the Devil to prove virtue in you (for he has not love), but rather to deprive you of it, and this he cannot do, if you do not wish it.”
–God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna (A Treatise of Discretion #51-52)