Why Does God Allow Temptation?


A friend of mine was pondering why the forbidden fruit was in the middle of the Garden where Adam and Eve could be tempted by it. His conclusion? “God wanted them to eat it.” Why Does God Allow Temptation?

It’s a powerful idea.

And it’s more than just an interesting theological question. All of us have something within our reach that looks good but is off-limits.

Whatever it is in your life, you may be tempted to believe (like my friend did) that the reason it looks so good, or feels so right, or has been there so long, or doesn’t go away, is because God wants you to have it.

(Many churches are saying just this regarding sexual expression outside marriage, divorce, and remarriage, or homosexual relationships, to name a few.)

There are so many things I don’t know, but I think there are other reasons God allows temptation—reasons that are ultimately much more satisfying than “he must want this for me.”

Here are three:

  1. God wants you to know you can say “no” to temptation. Obeying every impulse is not freedom; freedom is being able to say “no” to our impulses. God gave Adam and Eve authority over temptation and the serpent. They never found out how powerful their authority was. Will you?
  2. God has given you others and himself. He is not indifferent or afar off. He is very near, perhaps especially in the midst of the most intense temptations. Adam and Eve did not learn to walk in the fire with one another, nor with him. Will you?
  3. God knows unless you are absolutely free, you will not be able to love. Love and freedom go hand in hand. If you were not given the option to say no to God, your yes wouldn’t mean anything. God will not force you to love him. The question that remains is, will you give him your yes?

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Leave a comment below: What helps you trust that God is for you even in the midst of intense, ongoing temptation?


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  • Josh, it is so true that we all have a temptation right there within our grasp. Where do we go w.hen we are stressed? The choice is either to God or to temptation. We have a choice. Jesus wants us to come to him. I see this in my own life. Which way will I chose? Great message and reminder

  • I KNOW that God is more than enough as my provision for any desire I might have. The relationship I have with Him, I would not trade for any temporal fleeting feeling. We have the power (of the living God) to make the choice and once we have tasted that why would we want second best? “Buy the truth and sell it not.”

    Your three points were just beautifully put and so inspiring to read. It is real freedom to be able to say no to the devil with peace in our hearts.

  • Very well written. Sin is not attractive without a temptation that goes with it. I want to study more on what you said about having the authority over temptation. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • I read a great book that helps explain why God allows sin and temptation by John Piper called Spectacular Sin. It’s small but meaty. It helped me see that it’s not about me, but God’s glory, and in that I’m blessed!

  • This reminds me of my experience of where in my early years before becoming a born again believer, found my self having to make a quick decision that is either correct or incorrect. I heard a voice that warned me of my first taught, of which without knowing, acknowledged that voice that warned me of my first intention. I’m glad to say after almost 40yrs of my temptation experience, I made the correct choice by obeying the spirit of God who says no for pending dangers in our lives as Satan purpose is to seek or destroy before becoming mature Christians or place guilt or shame in our lives.

  • Turning down temptation: this is how I do it. When I first notice that I am drawn to do something God does not want me to do, I call upon God to enter into my mind and displace that Satan-originated thought with Christ’s thinking, feeling, and consequential desire-to-do through me in its place. I RELY on Him to do just that because, in the Lord’s Prayer, it says, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (or ‘the Evil One’).”

    That Lord’s Prayer petition means to me that God wants me to do the right thing, and He’ll be very glad to personally displace that wrong thinking and feeling in my mind with HIS right thinking and feeling about myself in my situation in its place. Jesus spoke that last petition with the verbs in the passive voice because He knew that we could not push out those Devil-thoughts by ourselves, even if we wanted to.

    Rather, Christ wants us to RELY ON HIM to dismiss those Satanic thoughts and feelings and replace them with Him in His OWN thinking and feeling in your mind in instead. Christ sees that task as part of His “saving my people” job and just LOVES to do that. He knows we’re just as helpless as a sheep to keep that Wicked Wolf from devouring our lives.

    Christ also knows that He designed us human beings such that however we think and feel, as soon as we ENDORSE such thinking and feeling, we will irresistibly LIVE OUT such thinking and feeling. O-n-l-y when we immediately have Christ to switch our thinking and feeling of the moment to HIS thinking and feeling about ourself in our current situation in its place . . . will we do His will instead. That’s exactly how Christ has planned to deliver His Christ-sheep from that ever-hungry Wicked Wolf.

    Here’s the way out: If we promptly call on Christ to save us from that Satan-wolf RIGHT NOW, we will discover that we were “delivered from the Evil One” yet again. Note the passive voice in this Lord’s Prayer petition – we are the RECEIVERS of His action. Our part is only to accept – EMBRACE – His inner motivation to be our own motivation of the moment instead. Then we will live out Him-in-us, and His following sweet satisfaction with ourselves will be enjoyed in our hearts from then on for time and eternity!

    So when you’re tempted, call upon Christ to displace that Devil in your mind with Himself in your mind immediately. He will become more lovely to you each time you do that. Living out Christ in His ongoing motivation-of-the-moment in you through your living is the most delightful form of human contentment that has ever been made – no sin, however attractive, can touch such joy and peace. In fact, our most wondrous pleasure in all of life is our enjoying the delight Jesus has from our delight in Him . . . as He shares that with us.

    To make that easy, God gave us “addictive capability” so that we could EASILY be stuck on Him. Being stuck instead on your favorite-finite-whatever is just a Satanic ploy to keep you away from your Wonderful Saviour.

    Life is so much better when we are addicted to our Saviour. Then He’ll be in a position in us to drive out all our other addictions, and the VAST joy and peace we’ll therefrom have will make Him for us the joy of living.

  • Thanks Josh,

    A very concise way to summarise it.
    Jesus taught us the Lord’s Prayer also to tell us indirectly that God does bring us to the test and the Lord’s Prayer begs God the father to bring us not into test but deliver us from evil.

    Jesus himself knew the behaviour and will of the father. He knew that at the beginning, the first Man was to be tested in faith and Obedience. Like how he himself face the test of God here on earth 3 times.

    God the father allows us to be tested like how gold is tested in the furnace.
    God does not tempt us but allow the pleasures of the world given to satan to entice us. But why?

    If God is a good God, why allow us to suffer the pleasures and consequences which surmounts to pain and suffering cause by this test?

    It’s because God still loves us so much that he want us to grow into better christians and walk toward him.

    If he did not love us, he wouldn’t have sacrifice his only son to show us that like him, we can all be tested and go through temptations without giving in to the seemly lust of the world.

    But it would always be futile if we do it on our own. We need God as our shield to protect us from the deceitful lies of the devil. He need his word and his holy spirit. He promise not to leave us orphan. We have his promise in our heart.

    We need to always say remember that God is testing us to keep us on our feet pointing to the direction he wills for us.

    That is freedom and Love.

    Thanks Josh

  • Thank you for your insights. It is thoughtful to see this battle with temptation framed with the Adam and Eve story, in that they never found out how truly powerful they were against the devil or learned to ‘walk in the fire’ together; I think you mean in that they pulled within themselves at the moment of temptation and didn’t seek each other or God (although technically Eve offered the fruit to Adam, so maybe she was looking out for him, though at that point she already knew what the fruit beheld…this sounds like an interesting question to pursue but maybe it’s besides the point). Also, not to belabor the point, but it seems that this is a particular burden for guys living in Western culture where skin-tight and/or revealing this and that for ladies is fairly common, but guys are fully clothed and covered up, and modesty is equivocated with “body shaming.” Where to begin? It seems there’s a lack of depth in clothing choices, the “if you got it, flaunt it” mentality being the most prevalent, but to what purpose? To show off to both ladies and guys? But which guys? The good guys are going to be looking away because they don’t want to be tempted, so it seems these fashion choices are going to be counter-productive. Who wants friend who like you for your looks? It happens all the time. I realize too if guys didn’t gawk there would be little incentive to dress like that. It’s like high-heel shoes, they were designed in a way to exaggerate a woman’s figure but are murder on the feet.

By Josh Glaser

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