The devil makes use of temptation—the word means “testing”—to lure us to hell. But God tests us, says Dionysius, to train us for heaven.
In general it seems true that it’s not possible for anyone to keep from experiencing evil completely. As someone says, “the whole world is in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and again, “their span is but toil and trouble” (Psalm 90:10).
But, you might ask, what’s the difference between being tempted and falling or entering into temptation?
Well, if you’re overcome by evil—and you will be overcome unless you struggle against it yourself, and unless God protects you with his shield—then you have entered into temptation. You’re in it; you’re under its power like a prisoner. But if you hold up and endure, then you certainly are tempted, but you haven’t entered into temptation, or fallen into it.
Thus Jesus was led by the Spirit, certainly not to enter into temptation, but to be tempted by the devil. And again, Abraham did not enter into temptation, nor did God lead him into temptation, but he did tempt (that is, test) him; yet he did not drive him into temptation. Moreover, the Lord himself tempted—that is, tested—the disciples.
This the evil one, when he tempts us, pulls us into the temptations, because he deals himself with the temptations of evil. But God, when he tests us, brings temptations or trials as one who is not tempted by evil. For God, as it says, “cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13). So the devil drives us on by force, pulling us toward destruction; but God leads us by the hand, training us for our salvation.
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
What temptations will I probably face in the rest of the day?
How can I use those opportunities to get in shape for heaven?
God who made the universe and everything in it, have mercy on me and wash away my sins, and save me in the time of trial.
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