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I was working on a different question and I found that I couldn't actually find anywhere that shows that God actually tests us.

Psalms 26:2 (NIV)
Test me, LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

Clearly, asking for tests is acceptable, per the Psalm above. Also, it seems that God allows us to be tested:

Job 1:12 (NIV)
The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Another verse that shows that God allows temptation:

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Does God ever intentionally put things in our way himself to allow us to be tested (as the Psalms says)? Or does God merely allow Satan to give us trials and temptations?

Also, what does the mainstream Protestant doctrines say towards this end?

I'd really like Biblical support for any answer, please.

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I'm starting to see that this question may not be too clear: Does God put temptation in front of us? Does God give us commands to see if we will follow them? And does God give us trials as a way to test our faith? Three separate questions that seem to be wrapped up in this one. –  Richard Sep 23 '11 at 12:34

3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

One well-known example of God specifically testing someone is when he commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as an offering unto him. (Genesis chapter 22)

Also, the Bible contains several references to God testing people in general to see if they will obey. For example:

Exodus 16: 4

I [will] prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

Deuteronomy 13: 3

the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

EDIT:

To answer a question from the comments, we can turn to James for a pretty solid NO; God does not put temptation in our path:

James 1:12-14

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.

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@Richard: See my edit. –  Mason Wheeler Sep 23 '11 at 13:03
    
Excellent answer, thanks! –  Richard Sep 23 '11 at 13:26
1  
So God does test our faith (do we love Him more than anything else), but it is our lusts that try to make us sin? –  Zealumble Sep 24 '11 at 20:11

"One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. The Lord said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?' Satan answered the Lord, 'From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.' Then the Lord said to Satan, 'Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. "'Does Job fear God for nothing?' Satan replied. 'Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.' The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger'" (Job 1:6-12

God tests the character of every human being, and that is a major aspect of what happened with Job. Paul wrote, "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts" (1 Thessalonians 2:4, NIV).

Moses explained to the ancient Israelites, "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger [a form of suffering] and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord" (Deuteronomy 8:2-3, NIV, New International Version).

The Lord said to Satan, 'Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger'" (Job 1:6-12, New International Version).

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If by "test" you mean "Tempt" then no. God will not tempt us.

James 1:13-16 (NKJV)

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.


However, this is not the only meaning of the word "test". Like the word "love", "test" is a word that has different connotations based on the context and/or the original word that was translated as "test".

For example, in several translations, the word "test" is used where "examine" is a better translation of the word. (Sometimes it's translated as "prove" as well.) For example:

  • 1 Thess 2:4 (NKJV) "We speak as men Approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel. We are Not trying to Please men but GOD, who TESTS our HEARTS."

  • Jer 17:10 (NASB) "I, the Lord, search (EXAMINE) the HEART, I TEST the MIND"

In these cases, God does "test" our hearts.


To get to whether or not God actually causes bad things to happen to you to test you (which is, I believe, a re-phrasing of your main question - correct me if I'm wrong.)...

I have yet to run across a scripture that indicates that God places evil, pain, or suffering in our way in order to test us. As you've pointed out, there are many verses where it is allowed, but none where He actually places the suffering in our paths.

The only places in the Scriptures where God causes what we might, in our finite wisdom consider "bad things" to happen is as a punishment for sin, which is a completely different matter.

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protected by wax eagle Jul 31 '13 at 0:27

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