Faithful News & Writer's Journey
by Anthony Barbera
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies." (Ps 103:2-4)
Can it be true that God makes us sick? Did God make me sick? Why? Has it actually become accepted among Christians that God makes us sick to "try" or "test" our faith? And that ultimately, when sickness leads to death, it is the final test, and that we are now ready to be taken by him to heaven? Can this really be true? Is this how a loving God deals with his creation? Not exactly reassuring, is it? Beyond that, has this idea crept into the Church by way of a misinterpretation of the Word of God? Or is it, in fact, an attack upon God our Father by his Archenemy?
Has Satan perpetrated his evil doings, fooled many, and convinced the church that God is the one who causes calamity, trial, sickness, and death, when in fact, it is our enemy, Satan, the god of this world, who is the real trier of God's people? We will go to the Scriptures to see whether these things are so, and we will allow the Word of God to be our standard for truth, not the creeds of men, who all too often teach as truth, the commandments of men, and call them God’s commandments. We will try to use Greek sparingly. However, there is a Greek word that must be understood. It is the Greek word peirazo (πειράζω). It appears in the New Testament a total of 39 times with different translations: tempt (29), try (4), tempter (2), prove (1), assay (1), examine (1), and go about (1).
Why is it important to examine this Greek word? Because understanding how this word has been translated from the original Greek into English, and how it is used today, will allow us to get to the bottom of this false accusation heaped upon our loving Father. Just think for a moment: if our God says that He heals all our diseases, that He forgives all of our sins, that he crowns us with loving-kindness and tender mercy, why would that same God test us with sickness and disease? Is there an answer? We will see.
Let’s look at how this word is used throughout the New Testament. We will find, with just a little due diligence, that we can see very clearly the truth. We don’t have to be theologians to do this. We will look at key verses among the 39 used. I will provide you a listing of all the verses at the end of this article so that you may look them up at your leisure.
The first time the Greek word (peirazo) is used, it is correctly translated as tempted. As a matter of fact, the translation is not the problem. As we will see, the problem lies in an inaccurate application of the situations where this word is used. I’ll give you a hint: The New Testament never once (in 39 verses), says or implies that God tempts you, or that He tempted Jesus Christ, or that He tempted the apostles. So then where did we get this idea that He tempts us? We will see very clearly.
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matt 4:1).
In this first example, it is very clear that the devil is tempting Jesus Christ in the wilderness. Additionally, in Mark 1:13 and Luke 4:2 he also is tempted by the devil in the wilderness. In Matthew, obviously, Satan is the one referred to as the tempter.
And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread (Matt 4:3).
In Matt 16: The Pharisees and Sadducees tempt Jesus, in order to get him to show them a sign. Calling them wicked and adulterous, he tells them that they will see no sign but the sign of the prophet Jonah. Many times throughout the gospels, Jesus is tempted or tried by the Pharisees and Sadducees, who hope to entice him to say or do something that will in some way incriminate him. At no time throughout the Gospels does it ever say, or even infer, that God tempted Jesus Christ, tried him, or put him to the test, for that matter. Our Savior knew that his "meat" was to do the will of his Father, to finish His work. He was tempted all right, but it wasn't by God.
Let’s look at another example. Here is a situation where the Pharisees and the Sadducees come again tempting, asking him to show them a sign from heaven.
The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven (Matt 16:1).
In Matt 22:18, Jesus perceives their wickedness and asks, "Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?"
In the gospel of John, Jesus proves or tests Philip. The same word [peirazo] is used in the Greek but translated as proves.
And this he said to prove him: for he knew what he would do (John 6:6).
The Scripture says that Jesus knew what he was going to do, but wanted to see whether Philip had faith. Unquestionably, throughout the gospels, many, many times Jesus is tempted by Satan and the religious leaders of his time, and this one time, working with his disciples, he proves Philip—to see if he does have faith. Never does Jesus say or infer that God tempts you, let alone that He will make you sick; in fact, the opposite is true: Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
So if Jesus never taught that God makes you sick to test you, where did this idea come from? Let’s look at our times, the grace administration, and see if God indeed tempts us after the day of Pentecost, or makes us sick. In Acts 5:9, Peter directly accuses Ananias and Sapphira of tempting the Spirit of the Lord. Wow, we sure don’t want to be those guys.
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out (Acts 5:9).
Further on, in Acts 15:10, Peter speaks among the apostles and elders, as they consider whether new believers should be circumcised. His answer is that God purified their hearts by faith, and why would they wish to further test these new believers? In other words, how will this ritual help them to grow spiritually?
Now, therefore, why tempt ye, God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (Acts 15:10)
In 1 Cor 7:5, husbands and wives are encouraged to give one another due benevolence so that Satan doesn’t "tempt" either one of them sexually.
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency (1 Cor 7:5).
We are encouraged not to tempt our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents (1 Cor 10:9).
In Corinthians, we are encouraged to prove ourselves. To look deeply at our own spiritual walk.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves (2 Cor 13:5).
In Galatians, we are encouraged to forgive people’s mistakes with meekness, always remembering that we have all come short of the glory of God. We have all been tempted and will continue to be.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted (Gal 6:1).
Paul encourages the Thessalonians, reminding them that we all suffer persecution and that Satan tempts all of us.
For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain (1 Thes 3:5).
In Hebrews, we are encouraged, in that Jesus Christ was tempted in every fashion just as we are. And because of that, he is able to lift us up.
For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Heb 2:18).
Examine the rest of the Scriptures below, and you will find this point that partially answers our question:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Cor 10:13).
Some have taught that Paul's thorn in the flesh was sickness and that God inflicted it upon Paul to prove him up and to test him. We do not believe that the Scriptures support this idea. Nowhere does it say that Paul's thorn in the flesh was sickness or disease.
We are tempted in life, but it is not God doing the tempting. He will deliver us. We may be tried with great difficulty, but it isn't by God. Last we heard, the devil was the god of this world. Christians need to stop blaming God for what his enemy causes. With the fall of Adam, we were immersed into a world of temptation. It is common to man. As duly noted, all men face temptation, and trial, and tribulation. Nowhere in Scripture does it state that God tries our faith, or makes us sick to build our faith. Some surmise that since Job was tested by Satan, with God's apparent consent, that God tries us as well. We don't live in the Old Testament, and even if that were true (which it isn't), one needs to know and recognize to whom is the Old Testament written?
The world, through Satan, tries us without ceasing. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say that God makes us sick for his purposes. It is a despicable lie, perpetrated by the fiendish god of this world. How could God, who cares about our welfare, heals all of our diseases and forgives all of our transgressions, at the same time hurl sickness upon us? Well, the fact is, he doesn’t. If you need any further biblical proof that God does not tempt us, here it is.
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: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed (Jas 1:13-14).
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom 5:1-5)
Can Our God Use a Trying Situation to Our Benefit?
It is clear that through the difficulties of life we can develop patience, trust, and faith in our God. When we are pressed and learn to look only to God, we learn to walk with endurance, and we prevail still, God standing with us as we look forward toward the blessed return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim 3:12).
- Matt 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
- Matt 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
- Matt 16:1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
- Matt 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
- Matt 22:18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?
- Matt 22:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked [him a question], tempting him, and saying,
- Mark 1:13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto him.
- Mark 8:11 And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him.
- Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? Tempting him.
- Mark 12:15 Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Bring me a penny, that I may see it.
- Luke 4:2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
- Luke 11:16 And others, tempting him, sought of him a sign from heaven.
- Luke 20:23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
- John 6:6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do.
- John 8:6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
- Acts 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out .
- Acts 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
- Acts 16:7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not.
- Acts 24:6 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law.
- 1 Cor 7:5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
- 1 Cor 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
- 1 Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
- 2 Cor 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
- Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
- 1 Thess 3:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain.
- Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
- Heb 3:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me and saw my works forty years.
- Heb 4:15 For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
- Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
- Heb 11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
- Jas 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:
- Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
- Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them, liars:
- Rev 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
- Rev 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
With Grace and Peace,
*All Scripture quoted is from the King James Version unless otherwise noted.
Ed: Thanks, Kathy.