In light of James 1:13, I would like to know the meaning of the remaining scriptures quoted below.

James 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.

1 Kings 22:21-23

Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.'"The LORD said to him, 'How?' And he said, 'I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.' Then He said, 'You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.' "Now therefore, behold, the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the LORD has proclaimed disaster against you."…

2 Thessalonians 2:11

For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie

Judges 9:23

God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek.

1 Samuel 16:14

Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

  • I imagine different Christians may have different perspectives on this. It would be helpful to narrow this down to one denomination/family of denominations.
    – ThaddeusB
    Jul 26 '15 at 23:16

Many people do not realize that believers and non-believers alike receive a default protection from God. They have a "hedge" around them similar to the hedge described as around Job. If it were not so, Satan and his evil spirits would do be able to do as they please.

"Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has?" (Job 1:10)

However, God will allow us to be tempted: To the faithful, temptations are allowed in the form of trials in order to bring to surface our sins so that we can then, by faith, overcome them. To the unfaithful, temptations are allowed because they seek it out purposely in their own presumption, and eventually when mercy is played out, God allows them to be exposed to an over-mastering temptation from Satan.

So in this context, it is not God who tempts, but God who allows. Satan and his demons are the tempters, and tempts us by bringing to surface the natural sinful inclinations already present in our hearts.

When Scripture describes "an evil spirit from God", or "God stirred up animosity", or sending forth "strong delusion" or "a deceiving spirit", this must be read in context as God allowing it.

A clear example of things being attributed to God when in fact it is Him allowing it, is found in Job. It is described by a messenger that "The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants" (Job 1:16). However, from earlier in the scripture, we know that it was Satan who did this and it was merely allowed by God:

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." (Job 1:12)

Deeper spiritual understanding is necessary to understand the reason of God's actions in these circumstances. Many times, it is a judgement where God has withdrawn His mercy because the person did not repent. Other times, as in the case of Job, it was necessary. After all, did Job not repent in the end? Through this trial he realized something he otherwise would not have.

  • Thanks @ThaddeusB, really appreciate your edits in helping to make my points clearer. You have great attention to details.
    – Beestocks
    Jul 27 '15 at 16:58
  • Glad I could be of help.
    – ThaddeusB
    Jul 27 '15 at 17:11
  • @Beestocks +1 Just what I was thinking and from gospel of Luke it is clear that Jesus could stop satan but He let it happen to build up Peter so that he can build up other disciples too. Luke 22:31 -32"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers"
    – shakAttack
    Nov 26 '15 at 8:36

If God cannot tempt anyone, what is the meaning of the following scriptures?

James 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:

1 Kings 22:20-22 And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.

The phrase "I am tempted of God" might be better translated "God is soliciting me to sin". (Wuest translation).

God does make use of the willingness of others to sin;

Genesis 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Job 1:8 And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Judges 9:23 God stirred up animosity between Abimelek and the citizens of Shechem so that they acted treacherously against Abimelek.

God does limit some some from responding to truth who do not seek truth.

Matthew 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

God does judge those who have rejected him.

2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:

God has sovereign authority over his creation.

Rom 9:15-23 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? 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? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

God allows evil spirits to influence, oppress and even torment some so that his purposes will be achieved.

1 Samuel 16:14 Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him.

The discomforture of Saul (who had forfeited his position through disobedience) was to lead to the summoning of David.

1 Samuel 16:18-19 Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the LORD is with him. Wherefore Saul sent messengers unto Jesse, and said, Send me David thy son, which is with the sheep.

God does not try to draw people into sin, but does make use of the willingness of people and spirits to sin.

  • This is hard truth, but even if I don't understand this entirely in relation to my understanding of God's character, I know that my ways are not His ways and I know He is trustworthy and faithful in all things. So, I guess this leads me to another question. Can you change God's mind? If someone's heart has been hardened and I desperately want them to know truth, do I have any power in prayer to change things? I know there are places in scripture where God seems determined to kill a person or nation and then, as a result of earnest petition, He appears to have of heart.
    – A.G.
    Jul 27 '15 at 16:40
  • On your last question, "Yes" and "No". "Yes" because there are insistence in the Bible (Moses/Abraham) when God wants His people to plead for mercy of others all the while knowing that He would then grant their wish. "No" because God is much more capable of mercy than any of us, He has already decided on the best path. Read Jonah, especially the very last two verse: "Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured... And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons?" - I'm sure Timf will have something good to share as well.
    – Beestocks
    Jul 27 '15 at 16:52
  • 1
    do I have any power in prayer to change things? If we had the power to change things, we would be God. We do have the power to ask. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
    – timf
    Jul 27 '15 at 22:32

The final "tempted" in James 1:13 means "test." (http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3985&t=ESV)

It does not mean to lure someone to sin, which is the popular meaning of the word. None of the examples given are God luring people to sin against him.


James 1:13 is correct as God will not tempt anyone but can only allow the devil who is ever ready to do so but not beyond our capacity to resist! Most temptations are needed to check if we have overcome that thing the temptation is calling (lust, pride, weakness etc). A victory over temptation is a promotion while a fall shows our attachment to that or other sin or weaknesses.

King Ahab was not a fool and will not fall as Elijah prophesied except he was tricked, so the reason for such an arrangement from heaven.1Kings 22

2Thess 2:11, yes, some people try to play smart to disobey God/forsake his grace and still want to enjoy all his mercy, so they will be given just what they deserve. Every choice has consequence(s) and someone must enforce them!

1Sam 16:14 this shows that nothing can touch anyone without God's knowledge or permission. The evil spirit got permission to torment him. But not all demonic torment are permitted by God; some are self invoked by sin or personal consent by initiation.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.