People always end up making a big mess between the difficulties they are facing, whether it is trial or temptation. Deep inside, there is the doubt whether what they live is something that comes from God or the evil one . The truth is that, when we talk about temptation and trial, we need to understand that there are differences between both and different consequences as to the fruit that will be generated in us, if we do not know how to face each one of them.
Illustrative photo: Daniel Mafra / cancaonova.com
Why can the fruits be distinct?
Because the “sources” from which they come are different. However, it is the Word of God itself and the Church’s Magisterium that help us to understand what each of these realities is and how to experience them. In the Letter of St. James , we have a clear distinction and explanation of what each one is and its consequences. Let’s see:
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, when you have to go through various trials, for you know that the test of faith produces in you constancy. Now, constancy must lead to a perfect work: that you become perfect and whole, without any lack or deficiency ”(Jas 1,2). “Happy is he who endures trial, because, once he has been tested, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (Jas 1:12).
It is the same James who also tells us about temptation:
“No one, when tempted, should say, ‘It is God who tempts me’, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. Rather, each one is tempted by his own lust, which draws and seduces him. Then lust conceives of sin and gives birth to it; and sin , once mature, generates death ”(Jas 1:13-15).
Jesus himself was the one who taught us, in His Word, in the Our Father’s prayer, a reality about temptation when he says: “do not let us fall into temptation”.
In this request from Jesus, there is a “rejection” of temptation, a warning that there is a danger, because immediately afterwards, there is another plea, in which there is a link with the previous request, “not to fall into temptation” , which is: “but deliver us from evil”. With all this, we can certainly say that there are great differences between temptation and trial, where they are born from and the fruits they produce.
Temptation always comes from the devil , our flesh or the world. It aims to lead us to sin and, by making us sin, produces in us the breaking of our relationship with God, our turning away from Him, generating in us death.
God’s Word, however, is clear about the path that temptation takes within us. For this to really become a sin, when a person feels the desire for sin, in addition to feeling it, he needs to consent. That is, to let that temptation take over, so that the act of sin arises and it grows, matures and bears the fruits of death.
So being tempted is not a sin, whatever the level of temptation! Sin is that you allow that temptation to grow without you fighting it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2847) teaches us that if temptation is not allowed, but combated, it can also be useful, bringing us merits before God.
Trial comes from God, divine permission
Although certain trials may have, behind them, the devil, it is allowed by God for the growth and maturation of the person. As the Word of God states : “… you know that the test of faith produces constancy in you. Now, constancy must lead to a perfect work: that you become perfect and whole, without any lack or deficiency ”(Jas 1,2).
So it was with Job! He was a man of integrity, fearing God, but the Lord allowed the devil to cause him trouble, because he knew that Job would be able to endure them! “God is faithful and will not allow you to be tested beyond your strength. On the contrary, he will provide success, so that you can endure it ”(I Cor 10,13).
It is important to emphasize that, just like a teacher when applying a test in the classroom, he is silent and observes how each student puts into practice what he has learned, so is God with us in the midst of our trials. I like to say that the ordeal is a test; while temptation is a trap!