When you think of temptation and how it is presented to someone what comes to mind?
If you’re like me, you have thought of temptation in relation to something big and “in your face,” but the Bible reveals that temptation can come in the form of something much more subtle.
In John 8, the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery to Jesus and asked Him a question, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
The next line in the text in the NIV is fascinating. It says, “They were using this question as a trap.” In the KJV this verse in John 8:6 reads, “This they said, tempting him that they might accuse him.”
So the NIV uses the word trap and the KJV uses “tempting.” Both words come from peirazo in the original Greek language and the definition made me go “Whoa! That is powerful!”
Peirazo involves “entangling a person in a sin or discovering what good or evil or weakness, or strength is in a person, or knowing it, and through the temptation making it manifest to the one who is being tempted.”
In short, peirazo is designed to entangle to sin, lead into a trap, and to reveal where we are weak. This type of temptation is designed by Satan to entrap us.
Isn’t it fascinating that getting trapped by temptation can come in the form of a simple question?
I remember many years ago I was running errands around town and as I walked out of a store, I was met by a reporter who shoved a microphone in my face and asked, “Are you aware that Senator so-and-so has been arrested for a DUI?”
I didn’t have time to think. “Yes I am,” I responded. She then asked another question and the next thing I knew, I had participated in mud-slinging.
As I drove away, I thought, “That is not right. I shouldn’t have done that.”
I then realized that the questions the reporter asked were designed to suck me (and every other person interviewed) into slandering the newly-arrested Senator. I immediately called the radio station and told them to strike me from their video.
And that is how fast temptation can happen through a question. The media uses questions to trap and tempt just like the Pharisees tried to trap and tempt Jesus. Those around us can do the same with us and unknowingly use questions to trap others, too.
“Will you come to bed with me?” “Will you participate in this business deal?” “Will you go on this trip?” “What do you think about that horrible thing that the Senator did?”
Just as Jesus was self-controlled when the Pharisees tried to trap Him, we need to be self-controlled, too. We need to be discerning. Not every question needs to be answered. Some of them need to be ignored. Don’t engage your tempter.
As seein in John 8:6, temptation to do wrong can come in the form of a simply stated question. The question is: will you take the bait?