Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds (Jas. 1:2 ESV)
Trials and temptations are two closely related words with a wide range of usage but have an important difference every believer should be aware of. In fact, both words originated from the same Greek word so the context is what lets us know which one is being referred to.
What is a trial, and how is it different from a temptation? A trial is simply using adversity to test the real value of something. A classic example is that of Israelites in the wilderness. God allowed them to suffer hunger (Deut. 8:3) to test their obedience to His Word. James exhorts us to rejoice when we go through trials, because the end of trials is glory. Trials refine and polish our faith and make us better than we were before.
This is in vast contrast to temptation. James says “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” (Jas. 1:13 ESV). To tempt someone is to lure, entice or trick them into committing evil or sin. The scripture clearly tells us that God never tempts anyone. He can test or try us but will never lure us to commit sin. We should never therefore blame God when we commit sin, because He never tempts us. We are tempted when we get carried away by our own lusts and give Satan a foothold to lead us astray (James 1:14).
So what is the difference between a temptation and a trial? Have you been tempted lately? Temptation is not limited to sexual sin, but includes every form of enticement for us to commit evil.
APPLY THE WORD
The Lord wants you to resist and overcome temptations and to rejoice in trials. We should resist the temptation of explaining our sin or wrongdoing by some mysterious will of God in trial or testing us. He never tempts anyone to do evil.
Ask the Lord to sustain you through every trial and keep you from temptation.