27 Feb 2013 by Tony Dibble-
There is a difference between testing (or trials) and temptation.
Testing is developed by GOD so that we learn to get closer to him to pull us through a trial, with Him protecting us. Tests also show us how close we really are with GOD.
GOD tests his children because He loves us (Hebrews 12: 7-11). Abraham was tested by GOD directly (Gen 22: 2 & 12). Job was tested indirectly by GOD (Job 1: 12). Testing is a time to learn to obey GOD’s commandments (Psalm 119: 71) and to refine our relationship with Him (Zech 13: 9). Philip was tested by Christ to see if he could respond correctly to Christ over feeding 5000 people (John 6:6).
GOD tests his people to see if they would be faithful to Him and He retains the obstacles for them to deal with (Judges 2:22). He also tests us to see if we run after false prophets (Deut 13: 1-3).
Our attitude to trials must be joyful because such tests sharpen our capability and make us complete in Christ (James 1:2-4) to deal with such situations. Satan tells us to act outside Christ and the moment we do this, we are giving up the very basis of our victory because we are kept by the power of GOD in the first place (1 Peter 1:5). When we experience a trial, we should praise GOD and get Him closer with us rather than panic.
Temptations, which are different from tests, are the destructive attempts from one of the following:
a) The devil seeking to make us fall;
b) The world and those around us making us follow their ungodly ideas;
c) Our pre-Christian self trying to regain control of us.
GOD does NOT tempt us. Neither is GOD tempted (James 1:13). When the devil tempted Christ, He was in the flesh (Matt 4:1-11).
Man’s temptations are common ones and no temptations are exceptional. GOD ensures that we are not tempted beyond our capability and He will always give us a way out when we are tempted. Idolatry must be fled from and an idol is anything that controls our mind and time. (1 Cor. 10:13-14; 2 Peter 2:9).
Man is sometimes tempted by advice which is against GOD (Psalm 1:1) and the lust and pride of life (1 John 2:15-16) are the sources of temptation. Satan can also use the lack of forgiveness as a door to destroy us in temptations (2 Cor 2:10 &11) because we are then outside GOD’s power.
Satan and his ministers can deceptively change themselves into an angel of light and ministers of righteousness (2 Cor 11:14-15) so we must be alert to temptations, checking them against GOD’s word and praying over them. Temptation is always given as an option for doubt: “Did GOD say?” (Gen 3:1); “If you are the Son of GOD…” (Matt 4: 3). Satan always sows a seed of doubt very, very subtly.
To overcome temptation, we are to walk in the Spirit and this will suppress the flesh (Rom 8:5). We are not to put on the old self and our conduct and attitudes must be completely changed (Eph 4: 22-32). We must clean up our act (Col 3: 8) and put on Christ (Rom 13:14).
Temptation is fuelled by desire: desire plays with temptation to change it into sin (James 1:14&15). Sin shall not have dominion over us (Rom 6:14). William Gurnall said that we should grab GOD’s strength now and reinforce it for future resistance to sin. George Goodman said that temptation is “soaking rags in gasoline” and we should therefore bring every thought captive to Christ (2 Cor 10:5) by focussing on spiritual things (Col 3: 1-3). All known sin must be confessed(1 John 1: 9). We are to be sober, vigilant, submitting to GOD and resisting the devil (1 Pet 5:8 and James 4:7). We should rebuke the devil as Christ did (Matt 16:23) and hide the word of GOD in us always (Psalm 119:11) so that when the occasion presents itself GOD’s word will surface to fight off the devil. We are to always put on the armour of GOD (Eph 6:11-18), always and not occasionally. Christ always lives in us (Gal 2:20) and GOD’s word living in us overcomes the devil (1Jn 2:14).We are to pray always (Eph 6:18) and this prevents temptation approaching us.
GOD does not stop temptations but He saves us the moment they come about as Christ knows how to assist us in temptation (Heb 2:18; 4: 15-16) if we are in Him.
In both experiences, whether trials or temptations, we still depend on GOD to pull us through. In BOTH experiences, if we depend on our own energy to survive, we will be defeated. That is what the devil aims for: whether testing or tempting, he wants us to come out from the protection of Christ and deal with evil on our own strength. When we depend on GOD, the devil will remind us of past sin making us feel guilty. But our past sins have been forgotten by GOD as He has forgiven us once we have confessed those sins. We now walk in the Holy Spirit and that protects us from spiritual attack.
Note: Tony Dibble worships at Endeavour Christian Gathering in Mullaloo Perth, Australia for about 7 years. Prior to this, he was at Church of Our Holy Saviour, Labuan, East Malaysia. When he is in Kuala Lumpur, he now worships at Faith Oasis Fellowship Subang Jaya, Selangor.
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