Lead us not into testing
This always surprises Greek students. A word often translated as "temptation" can also be translated as "test." The word is peirosmos, and it shows up in some famous passages (Lord's Prayer, James' teaching about "pure joy," promise to the Philadelphia church). The difficulty, of course, is sorting out the difference. When does peirosmos mean "temptation" and when does it mean "testing"?
Imagine how strange some familiar verses would sound if we inverted the conventional translations:
"Lead us not into testing, but deliver us from the evil one." "Count it all joy when you fall into various temptations." "Let no one say, 'I am being tested by God,' for God cannot be tested by evil and he himself tests no one." "No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength."
How can these things be? How could one word carry both connotations? Perhaps the answer is found in the role of Satan. He started out as a divine servant, charged with the job of testing the faithfulness of humanity. But, Adam couldn't handle the challenge; testing resulted in temptation. Maybe Satan went too far in his zeal for "proof." (After all, the "bad cop" always lies to catch the accused in their guilt.) Indeed, this is Satan's modus operandi: The father of lies tries to turn every test into a temptation--the opportunity for sin.
So, this is our lot. Embedded in every test is a temptation; and every temptation is a test. But, sorting out who's to blame (is this a test from God or a temptation from Satan?) is a difficult as translating peirosmos. Maybe it's our response that reveals the difference.