Biblical Temptation (in the Greek)

In the long struggle of evil with good, there is an important consideration. Consider that God tempts no one and is not tempted by evil (James 1:13). If we look at the New Testament scriptures about evil, temptation, and the general idea of temptation, we see that temptation will show us what we are made of that is not of God. A key word in the understanding of Greek words translated as temptation is "assay." To "assay" means to determine the contents of something. In the Old West, the miner went to the assayer’s office to determine the value of his gold or silver ore. The assaying process involves melting down the ore with specific additives to form a molten mass, stratifying and cooling, cutting away the slag substances and then purifying the remaining valuable metal. In assaying gold, the gold is always able to survive the process and nothing else is. We are assayed as a whole and not a sample. So how does temptation work to determine our character?

In the garden of Eden, at first, there was no knowledge of the difference of good and evil. Adam and Woman did not know what they were getting into because all they had ever known was good by reference to God. Whatever they had in mind was reflected against the mind of God as they had come to know Him, so good was the abundant outcome. Once they encountered the evil one, who was not called the evil one but "serpent" because Adam had named him serpent, they had a chance to compare good and evil. They could not know that before the fruit was consumed. Once they partook of the fruit, their ability to discern good from evil was opened and to understand through God was closed. What did they see after that but that which was in stark contrast to all they had previously known, which had been all good?

Temptation drew on something in Adam and Woman, it was lust (James 1:14). Lust is not sin but does lead to sin (James 1:15). Now the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) had come into action instead of the trust in God, being with God, the faithfulness of relying on His power and life that would never consider life apart from God. Instead of them reflecting only goodness with God, they could see evil in themselves and they were terrorized by that revelation. Here is temptation’s first display of lust for something, in man, that is not of Purity but of Perversion. The Evil One perverted the truth to make the temptation draw on the lust for self-determination. Self-determination is a key part God put in us that could respond in a grateful and worshipful way or a lustful way.

What was God’s plan with self-determination? He gave us the will and determination that we might glorify Him and enjoy Him forever just because it is right to do so. That self-determination helped Adam tend the garden and name all that was in the garden and it worked well as created in them. That self-determination wanted to meet with and commune with God every day. Now, influenced by Satan, will and determination were perverted into a system, yet undeveloped, that would lead us as far as we could get from God.

We must realize that our sin will not reflect off of God because there is no sin in Him (James 1:13). Our righteousness will not reflect off of Satan because there is no truth in him (John 8:44). We need two moral "mirrors" to tell the whole truth about who we are (Proverbs 27:19, 1 Corinthians 13:12, 2 Corinthians 3:18). So count it all joy when you find yourself tempted and responding with a determination to give the lust and sin up to God (James 1:2 & 3).

Why would God allow Satan to continue tempting us? He allows it because we are not able to find sin within ourselves and it does not reflect off of God. God will use Satan in a marvelous way, to reveal sin in us. He is God’s devil and God is sovereign (Job 1 & 2). Once we are mature in His Spirit, we can see what God wants to remove without temptation being the tool. Then it is complete submission to God and resistance to Devil (James 4:7).

Consider what is in you. Do you want to be the greatest or know the Greatest? To know the greatest is God’s plan for us and to be the greatest is a perversion of that faculty of the spirit. As temptation rises before us, we must see what we are made of or perish in ignorance. When God reveals His nature to us in the scripture, prayer, meditation or nature, we can see how wonderful He is only if our spirits are turned on to see the wonderful. Before Christ comes in and turns our spirits toward Him, we cannot see it. Once we are in Him, we can see it and see it more clearly with each attempt to see.

Our first righteous vision of self is to see self bound up in sin and we do not understand what we see because our spiritual senses are not yet developed to discern the truth (Hebrews 5:14). The Holy Spirit keeps us focused on Jesus so we can see God and continue to be changed into His very own image (2 Corinthians 3:18). As we continue to have this image developed in us, we see more and more of God and what He is made of. The more we see what He is made of, the more we see the perversion that has consumed and distorted what God has made us to be. When Sin comes by and wants an audience with us, we see what lust is left in us that God has still to correct/sanctify out of us. So when evil comes to the saved person, we are to count it all joy (James 1:2). God has revealed to us what we are harboring that is not a part of His nature. As we give up what is not a part of His nature, we become more like Him, free from sin and fully righteous.

If this temptation revelation process is working for us, it must also work for Jesus. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemane, the true nature of Jesus was proven to be The Son of God (Matthew 4 & 26, Mark 14, and Luke 4). There was no lust in Him to draw him away. These episodes only worked to assay that Jesus was fully righteous and the Son of God. When we are tempted and lust comes up, we can see that the assay has shown there is still unrighteousness in us. When that unrighteousness is displayed, offer it to Jesus and leave it at the Cross He suffered upon, and then that sin’s effect on your life will be undone (1 John 3:8). We are cleansed by His blood (1 John 1:7). If there is even one little tiny fleck of lust left in us, God is faithful to go after it and remove it. Some Christians see the temptation as putting lust in them, that is not consistent with the scripture (James 1:14 & 15). God is allowing us to face evil so we can see what we still contain, which is not of Him. Then, in our righteous determination to love and be with God, we will give up the lust to Him and become free. He is the refiner and will not quit until His work is complete (Malachi 2:2 & 3).

Temptation is not sin. Not everyone responds to the same temptations. For one, it might be for sex and the other it might be for prestige. Sex will not tempt the one who has a lust for prestige and prestige will not tempt the one who has lust for sex. Also, no one is so clear of lust that there is only one thing that tempts. We are complex and the effect of sin is complex chaos. As we experience removal of one lust, we may see the influence of another that has been secondary to the first. Give them each up each time they are revealed and hold nothing for yourself but give all to God.

How can we ever be cleansed from all lust/sin response? The refining process is God’s method (Psalm 6:10 & 11, Isaiah 48:10, Zechariah 13:9). He allows us to have the lust/sin revealed and then gives us a chance to give it up. We must recognize the waywardness of the lust and confess it to Him. We must repent of the waywardness of the lust and turn 180 degrees toward righteousness and walk toward righteousness. We have been forgiven so we can thank God for the gift of righteousness made in us by Him through Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:19).

Is there any sin that cannot be thus removed? The only un-removable sin is the sin of a closed heart that will not let Him start the process. The sin of unbelief is the core sin in a spirit of man. Even a little belief, like a mustard seed, will allow the process to begin and God to have His perfect work.

Some sin patterns are harder to give up than others, but none are hard for God to remove. God is long-suffering and so He will take you down the road of cleansing forever if that is what it will take. There is not any sin so great it will take forever for God to remove all the tiniest pieces. He is faithful to do it. Some see their sin as so great that God will not remove it. Remember that God made Jesus to be sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). All sin, no matter what, has been put upon Him and thereby allows Him access to it all. The price has been paid and it only takes your consent to start.

All of the following words are in the New Testament text. The words carry the idea of testing and not fault-finding or destruction. Testing for what? The word assay occurs several times and assay means to find out what something is made of. So the temptations we face are to disclose to us what we are made of. The disclosure has to be to us since God already knows what we are made for in His purposefulness.

The following words are from:

Title: Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries

Edition: First

Copyright: Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1998, Parsons Technology, Inc.

Author: Strong, James (1822-1894)

Publisher: Parsons Technology, Inc.

Publisher Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa


G551 (2) times used




From G1 (as a negative particle) and a presumed derivative of G3987;
untried, that is, not temptable:—not to be tempted.

G1598 (4)




From G1537 and G3985; to test thoroughly:tempt.

G3984 (2)




From the base of G4008 (through the idea of piercing); a test, that is, attempt,
experience:assaying, trial.

G3985 (40)




From G3984; to test (objectively), that is, endeavor, scrutinize, entice,
discipline:assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try.

G3986 (21)




From G3985; a putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience [of
evil], solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication adversity:
temptation, X try.

G3987 (2)




From G3984; to test (subjectively), that is, (reflexively) to attempt:assay.