What does it mean to tempt God? This article explains that there are three ways you can tempt God: by challenging him, putting him on trial, and subjecting him to your thinking.

Source: The Banner of Truth (NRC), 1987. 2 pages.

Tempting God

Temptation! Are we not all very familiar with this word? Does the dictionary definition of "temptation," which reads as follows, "enticement or allurement to evil," not accurately describe what each of us as sinners experience every day? Must we not confess with shame that due to our desperately wicked hearts we frequently yield to temptation? Temptation causes us to stumble daily, which is particularly grievous to all who desire to live in obedience to God's will. However, as sinners we do not only daily yield to temptation, but we are also guilty of the act of tempting. We are often guilty of tempting others to become accomplices in our sinful actions. What is worse, however, is that as sinners we are daily inclined to tempt God!Tempting God

Tempt God, you say? Does not Scripture say that God cannot be tempted with evil? This is certainly true, but when God Himself says in Deuteronomy 6:16, "Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God," something entirely different is meant as when we speak of being tempted to sin. The word "tempt" used in this passage has a complex meaning and conveys the following, "to challenge, to put on trial, to subject someone else to your way of thinking." I believe that it will now become clear to you why God forbids us to tempt Him and why Scripture abounds with examples of the execution of God's wrath upon those who tempt Him as nothing so accurately conveys man's enmity towards God and the wickedness of his heart, as the phrase, "to tempt God."

Especially when we are young the tendency to be guilty of this sin is very great, as the above-mentioned description of the word "to tempt" accurately describes the attitude of many teen­agers towards every aspect of life. Lest there be anyone, however, who would be inclined to think he or she is never guilty of tempting God, let us briefly, but carefully apply the stated definition of "tempting God" to your and my life.

To tempt God: to challenge God🔗

To challenge God means to deliberately and consciously defy God and His revealed will, summarized in His holy law. We could also say that to challenge God is to sin against better knowledge, to knowingly and consciously deviate from the pathway of God's commandments. In doing this we are guilty of showing our contempt for who God is, and for what He as our Creator right­fully requires from us. Therefore, whether you are aware of this or not, when consciously going contrary to God's Word you are defying the mighty God of the Universe, and you convey in thought, word, or deed that you consider yourself to be the lord and master of your own life.

Are you perhaps guilty of challenging God? Are you rebelling against the Biblical instruction you have received from your parents and office-bearers? Whatever your rationale may be for your defiant disposition, please consider that you are engaged not only in a wicked but also most dangerous practice. Did Pharaoh not cry out defiantly, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice?" You know that Pharaoh's challenge of Jehovah resulted in his total destruction. My dear young friend, do not provoke God any longer, lest you experience that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, having done despite to the Spirit of His grace. Read Hebrews 10:26-31.

To tempt God: to put God on trial🔗

Perhaps you are a person, however, not guilty of such a rebellious and defiant attitude. Your outward walk is beyond reproach, but you may nevertheless be guilty of challenging God in a very subtle way. Perhaps in thought, and possibly in deed, you are putting God on trial for fundamental truths He has revealed in His Word. Tempting GodPerhaps you are challenging God about His sovereign right to decree the eternal destiny of every human being, to which you respond that you cannot be held accountable for your spiritual condition, being a helpless victim of circumstances. It is also possible that you are putting God on trial for His righteous demand that you repent from your sins and believe in His only begotten Son. Perhaps you secretly feel that God has no right to demand this from you, as you are not able to do anything of yourself, forgetting that your inability is a direct result of your unwillingness.

If you reason in such a fashion, you also are guilty of tempting God, and the warning of Romans 9:20 is very applicable to you, issued to those who piously stated, "Why doth He yet find fault? For who hath resisted His will?", to which Paul replies with holy indignation, "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, why hast Thou made me thus?"

To tempt God: to subject God to our way of thinking🔗

This definition actually gives us the root cause why as sinners we are naturally inclined to openly or covertly challenge God, i.e., reply against God. As sinners we want God to be subject to our will, our wishes, our ideas. We want to view God and His will from our perspective rather than viewing ourselves from His perspective. We have the audacity, be it perhaps very piously, to insist that we only will worship a God whom we can fully comprehend. This is the error of the Arminian who says that since Christ is freely offered in the gospel, man must have the free will to accept that offer. But it is also the error of a few who moved beyond Calvin in stating that since Christ merited salvation for the elect only, there are no gospel appeals to the unconverted. Both errors are prone to fit the truth of God's Word into the framework of their thinking.

Are you tempting God?🔗

My dear young friend, are you guilty of challenging God, putting Him on trial, and/or conforming His truth to your way of thinking? Remember, nothing so offends and provokes Him as when we tempt Him, and challenge His right to be God. I wish to repeat Paul's loving admonition in 1 Corinthians 10:9, "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.'' Take heed, therefore, my dear young friend, "lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13) and beg God to make you willing in the day of His power to surrender your heart, soul, mind, and strength to Him and His will.

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