Why does God allow a person to be tempted?
A copy of the trials in the desert of St. Anthony by the young Michelangelo, after an engraving by Martin Schongauer around 1487-9, The Torment of Saint Anthony. (photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Luke 4:1 and 13
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil.
13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.
1 Peter 4:12
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness”.
Dr David Anders explains why God permits temptation:
1 – When the person resists temptation, it is an occasion of merit.
2 – When the person resists temptation, it assists him/her to grow in virtue.
3 – Temptation can be a scourge for the person’s own previous immoral activity.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
2847 – The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man,152 and temptation, which leads to sin and death.153 We must also discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. Finally, discernment unmasks the lie of temptation, whose object appears to be good, a “delight to the eyes” and desirable,154 when in reality its fruit is death.
God does not want to impose the good, but wants free beings. . . . There is a certain usefulness to temptation. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us.155
2848 – “Lead us not into temptation” implies a decision of the heart: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. . . . No one can serve two masters.”156 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”157 In this assent to the Holy Spirit the Father gives us strength. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it.”158
152 Cf. Lk 8:13-15; Acts 14:22; Rom 5:3-5; 2 Tim 3:12.
153 Cf. Jas 1:14-15.
154 Cf. Gen 3:6.
155 Origen, De orat. 29:PG 11,544CD.
156 Mt 6:21, 24.
157 Gal 5:25.
158 1 Cor 10:13.