An atheist (or Agnostic) asks:
Does god tempt or doesn’t he?
James 1:13- 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.
Genesis 22:1- And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
This atheist or agnostic challenges that there are contradictions in the Bible, he brought forth few of those which I am going to answer one by one. I’ve said it before and I repeat it again; Atheists/Agnostics have something similar with/to Muslims when it come to the Bible; that is, they both are inconsistent and like to take things out of context.
The word ‘tempt’ in Genesis and James for example, is used in two different contexts. Let’s see what I mean:
In Genesis, the original Hebrew word used there is נסה (nâsâh); which means to test, assay, prove or try and in context, it’s Abraham’s faith that was test (Put that in mind).
Here is the context of Genesis 22:1,
1 And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you,
6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
As we see, God tempted Abraham’s faith; whether or not He would do what was asked of him or not, but in James, he is talking about God not responsible for people to commit sins because He is not the author of it. It has nothing to do with test (tempt) of faith. These are two huge different things.
The original Greek word used in James is πειράζω (peirazō); which means entice, examine, discipline…In other words, God does not use evil things to examine/test your loyalty to Him, He does not discipline you by tempting you to commit sins.
James in context:
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
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:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of HIS OWN LUST, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, IT BRIGETH FORTH SIN: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
As we see in context, God has nothing to do with this kind of temptation, but that men are tempted by their evil lusts; that is to sin, to do things contrary to God’s words. In a simple term, James is saying, “God is not the one responsible for you being tempted to sin; it’s your own lust that causes you to fall for Satan’s trap.”
He probably wrote this because some of the people thought that God tempts them to sin to test their loyalty to Him.
God tempts people’s faith (Hebrews 11:6), but He is not the author of evil temptation (your lust and Satan are). People are tempted with evil because of their lusts and Satan uses that for his advantage since that’s his goal; for people to do the things God hates. So I don’t see any contradiction here; it’s just that this person never read or studied the two passages in their respective contexts. What he did was, he only read the words, “God tempted…” and “God does not tempt…” and thus concluded that this is a contradiction; which, as I showed in context, is a failed attempt to discredit the Bible once again. Praise be to God!
Come to Christ, He loves you that’s why He died for your sins. Click here and be born again.