The Bible says God tries men in Hebrews 11:17, but James 1:13 says God does not tempt us. Is there a contradiction?


"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son" (Hebrews 11:17).

"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" (James 1:13).

Though the two verses use two different English words: "tested" and "tempted," The same Greek word is being used in both places: peirazo, which means to test. The difference is with kind of testing that is taking place.

James is telling us that God cannot be encouraged to do evil and He does not, in turn, encourage others to sin. But many other passages do tell us that God does test people to see if they will do what is right. "And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD" (Deuteronomy 8:2-3). This is the type of testing that is mentioned in Hebrews concerning Abraham's offering of Isaac. And it sets the stage for addressing the question of why Christians sometimes go through hard times. "And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives"" (Hebrews 12:5-6).

There is no growth without challenges and God provides the challenges to us so that we might grow thereby. Sometimes, God allows Satan to tempt us as happened to Job. God did not tempt Job with evil, but He did allow Satan to tempt him with evil to prove Job's character. But even here, the goal is not to cause sin, but to cause growth. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13).