Posted by Tony
A great question was raised in class on Sunday morning. Did God tempt Abraham to sin by asking him to sacrifice Isaac? When tough questions are raised about the Bible, the best place to look for answers is the Bible itself.
The first question to ask is, does God ever tempt anyone to sin? We don't always get black and white answers in the Bible to our questions. However, James could not be clearer when he addresses this issue.
James 1:12-15 (ESV) 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God," for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Ok, so God does not tempt us to sin. But would it not have been a sin if Abraham had killed Isaac to sacrifice him to God? The answer, is no. If God had never called off the sacrifice and allowed Abraham to go through with it, that would not have been a sin. The definition of sin is literally to miss the mark. The mark is the standard laid out by God. If God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham would not be missing the mark by obeying God.
This leads then into another troublesome question. How could a righteous God call for someone to shed innocent blood? First, none of us are innocent before God. We're all sinners, including Abraham and Isaac and the wages for sin is death (Romans 6:23). However, we do have a righteous and gracious God. The only human sacrifice he has ever called for is the sacrifice of His own Son for our sins (Romans 5:6-11, Hebrews 10:10). An omniscient (Isaiah 46:8-11, Jeremiah 1:5, John 21:17, 1 John 3:20) God knew that Isaac would never be sacrificed (1 Corinthians 10:13).
So if anyone ever commits an act that is contrary to God's standard as laid out in His Word, that person can never claim they were acting on God's direction. Even in the case of Abraham and Isaac, where God has the right to claim any life he chooses (Job 38-41), God called it off.
Abraham's faith is not that he was willing to kill his son. His faith was that he believed in God's promise that through Isaac his offspring would be as numerous as the stars. His faith, in the midst of testing, was looking forward and depending on God's promise. His faith was that God was trustworthy and what God had promised God would ensure happened.
God will never tempt us to sin. We have His word on that (James 1:13). God will allow us to be tested and in that testing, Satan and our own fleshly desires may very well tempt us. In our time of testing, let us keep our eye on God's promises and not on Satan's lies or our own worldly understanding.
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