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Trials & Temptations

Updated on June 14, 2014

What's the Purpose?

Have you experienced trials and temptations?  Do you know the difference between them?  How about from where they originate?  What is the purpose of trials and temptations?  I hope you join me as we embark on a journey through the Bible to answer some of these questions. 

The First Test

Let’s begin at the beginning in the Garden of Eden. God placed the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden. Do you wonder why He did this? Could it have been placed there to try or test Adam’s faith in God’s Word? God told him that the day he ate of it, he would surely die.

Adam obeyed for awhile, until Eve was created and fell under the temptation of the serpent. Eve failed the ‘test’ by eating of the tree, then went and tempted Adam, who also failed the ‘test’ of God by doing the same.

Well Jam 1:13-14 states, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.”

Absolutely. God didn’t tempt them; He tested and tried their faith; Satan tempted them with evil intent. Throughout all time, since the testing of Adam and Eve, God and Satan operate in this fashion and for good reason.

The Trial (Proof) of Your Faith

By grace we are saved through faith, right (Eph 2:8)? Consider 1 Pet 1:7 “That the trial [testing/proving] of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried [proved/approved] with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

The word ‘trial’ is 6884 tsaraph (tsaw-raf’): to fuse (metal), i.e. refine (lit. or fig.): - cast, (re-) fine (-er), founder, goldsmith, melt, pure, purge away, try.

How about Rev 3:18 “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried [refined] in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.”

Look at Mal 3:12 “But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire.”

There are times when the phrase “trying of your faith” is translated "testing of your faith" and/or “proving of your faith”.

Everyone knows the story of Job. In summary, God allowed Job’s faith to be tried through the temptations of Satan. Trial and temptation are not the same thing. Job did not give into temptation, yet his faith was certainly tried by those temptations and proven more precious than gold, refined in the fire, when it was all said and done. And God blessed Job with more than he ever had before!

Job 23:10 “But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Now look at 1 Pet 4:19 "Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls [to Him] in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator."

Purify My Heart

Consider David’s writings in the Psalms:

Ps 7:9 “Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.”

Ps 17:3 “Thou hast proved mine heart; Thou hast visited me in the night; Thou hast tried me, and shalt find nothing; I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.”

Ps 26:2 “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.”

Ps 66:10 “For Thou, O God, hast proved us: Thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.”

Ps 105:19 “Until the time that His word came: the word of the LORD tried him.”

Ps 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts.”

God Tests Abraham

The story of Abraham is a great example of a trial of faith. He was told by God to take his son of promise, Isaac, up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. Abraham obeyed God, yet had faith in his heart that God would provide a substitute when the moment came. What faith! We believe that God knows all things beforehand, so why would He ‘test’ Abraham in this way? Was it indeed a test? The Bible tells us it was:

Gen 22:1 “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [test] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.”

Heb 11:17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tried [tested], offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.”

Look at what God said to Abraham as he raised the knife in Gen 22:12: “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.”

Because Abraham passed the test, God blessed him and his seed throughout all generations to come. It was through Isaac’s lineage God would eventually come to us in His Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

An interesting observation, before we continue, is the Greek word used in this testing of Abraham. It is 3985 peirazo (pi-rad’-zo): to test (obj.), i.e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline: - assay [determine the content or quality of], examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try. Notice there are both positive and negative definitions within this word. The next section uses the negative aspects.

Temptation

As we know, Jesus was born through the lineage of David. When He reached the age of 30 and was baptized by John the Baptist, Mat 4:1 tells us, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” You will see my brackets over and over here, to ensure less misunderstanding:

To tell the difference between temptation and a trial of faith we must pay attention to the motive behind the testing. Peirazo also has an evil intent, to tempt us to rebel against God’s Word. Satan, who is the tempter, tempted Christ in the desert (though Jesus was NOT tempted to do evil); and though Satan was defeated there, he continued to work through people Jesus came in contact with.

Mat 16:1 “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting [the Pharisees and the Sadducees were the tempters, yet Jesus was NOT tempted to do evil] desired Him that He would shew them a sign from heaven.”

Mat 19:3 “The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him [the Pharisees were the tempters, yet Jesus was NOT tempted to do evil], and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”

Mat 22:35-36 “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked Him a question, tempting [the lawyer was the tempter, yet Jesus was NOT tempted to do evil] Him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Luke 20:23 “But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt [they were the tempters, yet Jesus was NOT tempted to do evil] ye Me?”

John 8:6 “This they said, tempting [they were the tempters, but Jesus was NOT tempted to do evil] Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.”

Jesus was NEVER tempted in His heart with evil or to do evil. John 2:24-25 declare to us, "But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man."

Tempting GOD

Have you read Jesus’ words to Satan in Mat 4:7? “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt [to test thoroughly] the Lord thy God.” Some more accurate translations state, "Thou shalt not put the LORD thy God to the test!"

Yes, Satan tempted (as the tempter) the Lord God. People are not to tempt the Lord either!

1 Cor 10:9 “Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.” This indicates an evil motive in our hearts, resulting in destruction.

Acts 5:9 “Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Ananias and Saphira had evil in their hearts and LIED to God.

The Lord is With Us

If we understand that the trial of our faith can happen through temptations of the devil, it will help us pass the test by standing firm against the devil’s wiles. Just as God limited what Satan could do to Job in the trial of his faith, He will not give us more than we can bear. He is building our faith!! Have you asked the Lord to increase your faith? (Luke 17:5)

1 Cor 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Heb 2:18 “For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted [tested, for God is not tempted with evil - James 1:13], He is able to succour [rescue] them that are tempted [tested - the context interprets the definition].”

Heb 4:15For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities [weakness, in that we are but flesh]; but was in all points tempted [ like as we are, yet without sin.”

Jam 1:2-4 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [trials], Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. “

Rev 3:10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation [trial], which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”

Jam 1:12 “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation [trial]: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”

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