Tempt is used in the Bible in the Latin sense of prove, as a rendering especially of בָּחִן, bachdn, and πειράζω, which both signify to test or try. It is applied to various beings in different senses, not always involving an evil purpose wherein the temptation is presented to the mind as an inducement to sin. SEE TEMPTATION.
1. God is said to have tempted Abraham by commanding him to offer up his son Isaac (Ge 22:1), intending to prove his obedience and faith, to confirm and strengthen him by this trial, and to furnish in his person an example and pattern of perfect obedience for all succeeding ages. God does not tempt or try men in order to ascertain their tempers and dispositions, as if he were ignorant of them, but to exercise their virtue, to purify it, to render it conspicuous to others, to give them an opportunity of receiving favors from his hands. When we read in Scripture that God proved his people, whether they would walk in his law or not (Ex 16:4), and that he permitted false prophets to arise among them, who prophesied vain things to try them whether theyῥ would seek the Lord with their whole hearts, we should interpret these expressions by that of James (1, 13-14), "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 by his own lust and enticed."
2. The devil tempts us to evil of every kind, and lays snares for us, even in our best actions. Satan, having access to the sensorium, lays inducements before the minds of men to solicit them to sin (1Co 7:5; 1Th 3:5; Jas 1:13-14). Hence Satan is called that old serpent, the devil, and "the tempter" (Re 12:9; Mt 4:3), and the temptation of our first parents to sin is expressly recognized as the work of the devil (Ge 3:1-15; Joh 8:44; 2Co 11:3; 1Jo 3:8). He tempted our Savior in the wilderness, and endeavored to infuse into him sentiments of pride, ambition, and distrust (Mt 4:1; Mr 1:13; Lu 4:2). He tempted Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Ghost (Ac 5:3). In the prayer that Christ himself has taught us, we pray God "to lead us not into temptation" (Mt 6:13); and a little before his death, our Savior exhorted his disciples to "watch and pray, that they might not enter into temptation" (26:41). Paul says," God will not suffer us to be tempted above what we are able to bear" (1Co 10:13).
3. Men are said to tempt the Lord when they unseasonably require proofs of the divine presence, power, or goodness. Without doubt, we are allowed to seek the Lord for his assistance, and to pray him to give us what we need; but it is not allowed us to tempi him, nor to expose ourselves to dangers from which we cannot escape unless by miraculous interposition of his omnipotence.. God is not obliged to work miracles in our favor; he requires of us only the performance of such actions as are within the ordinary measures of our strength. The Israelites in the desert repeatedly tempted the Lord, as if they had reason to doubt his presence among them, or his goodness, or his power, after all his appearances in their favor (Ex 16:2,7,17; Nu 20:12; Ps 78:18,41, etc.).
4. Men tempt or try one another when they would know whether things are really what they seem to be, whether men are such as they are thought or desired to be. The queen of Sheba came to prove the wisdom of Solomon by proposing riddles for him to explain (1Ki 11:1; 2Ch 9:1). Daniel desired of him who had the care of feeding him and his companions to prove them for some days whether abstinence from food of certain kinds would make them leaner (Da 1:12,14). The scribes and Pharisees often tempted our Savior, and endeavored to decoy him into their snares (Mt 16:1; Mt 19:3; Mt 22:18).