May we test God?

Lk 4:12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Here Jesus is speaking directly to Satan during the wilderness temptation. This verse seems to say the answer is no.

1 Thess 5:21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. This verse seems to say yes.

1 Jn 4:1-2 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, This verse helps put the other two in perspective. There’s a big context difference between Lk 4:12 and 1 Thess 5:21. In Luke, Jesus is speaking directly to Satan. Satan already knows who Jesus is. Satan wasn’t trying to determine whether Jesus was good or evil; to think so would be absurd. Paul, on the other hand, is instructing us to determine the source. It isn’t saying put God on trial; it’s saying find out if something is from God. It’s only after you know something’s from God that you tread thin ice by testing further. 1 Jn 4:1-2 is a practical aide in making such judgments and even goes so far as to explain why its important to do so.

Is 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. The Lord proclaims His way is right. Who are we to judge? The real issue is doubt versus faith. Once you determine something is from God, you display a lack of faith if you test God further and outright sin if you disobey. Test things to determine (prove) whether they are from God, but do not put God on trial or tempt him. See also Ps 77:13, Dt 32:4, Job 23:10.

This post is an excerpt (Question 3.4) from my book Ask James one.


About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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3 Responses to May we test God?

  1. Todd Beal says:

    Lance, I’m glad to finally see a good explanation for this “perceived” contradiction. Well done.

    • Lance Ponder says:

      Thanks. There’s so many “perceived” contradictions in scripture. I particularly enjoy exploring them. Its like some kind of treasure hunt. Some of the common ones, like predestination/free will and faith/works get kind of old. Questions like this, though, tend to be more interesting to explore.

      • Todd Beal says:

        I like to solve “perceived” biblical contradictions whatever they are. I can’t stand it when I hear someone say that the Bible is full of contradictions but can’t back it up. I really can’t stand it when I have no authoritative rebuttal. The Bible is true, is true, is true, and because truth contains no contradiction, I make it my mission to address these misperceptions, one by one, and once and for all put them to bed. A well-reasoned logic authored by truth authoritatively destroys all rebuttals.

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