Some older versions of the Bible use the word ‘temptation’ in a variety of ways, some of them with the meaning more of testing. Such testing is an action designed usually to prove the success or failure of a person or thing. This meaning of ‘testing’ is the subject of the present article. Concerning the better known meaning of temptation (that is, to tempt to do wrong) see TEMPTATION. People may test the genuineness of metals by putting them into a fire. The purpose is to remove any impurities, so that the pure metal remains. In like manner God tests his people, allowing them to pass through trials in order to reveal whether their faith is genuine (Deut 8:2; Ps 66:10; Prov 17:3; Isa 48:10- 11; Jer 20:12; 1 Peter 4:12). Those who pass the test find they are purified and strengthened by the experience (Gen 22:1; Deut 8:16; 13:3; Judg 2:22; Heb 11:17; James 1:2-3,12; 1 Peter 1:6-7; see REFINE).
The Bible tells Christians to test, or examine, themselves, to make sure they are really living by faith in Jesus Christ (2 Cor 13:5). This testing, in the sense of examination, must extend to all things, from matters of everyday living to matters concerning the church. As God’s people choose what is worthwhile and reject what is worthless, they will grow towards maturity (Phil 1:10; 1 Thess 5:21; 1 Tim 3:10; Heb 5:14; 1 John 4:1). Arrogant people sometimes try to test God by challenging him to do what they demand as a proof of his knowledge, power or love. Such a challenge is rebellion against God and may bring his punishment (Exod 17:7; Num 14:22; Deut 6:16; Ps 95:8-11; Matt 4:7; Acts 5:9; 15:10; 1 Cor 10:9). Jesus’ opponents showed such an attitude when they challenged him to prove that he was the Son of God (Mark 8:11; 15:29-30; cf. Matt 4:5-7).