Before we get started, there’s something we need to know about the test, the trials of life — that is, they are not from God. God is the solution to your problems, not the source. I remember how the old saints (and some of the new ones) said, “If God will bring you to it, He will bring you through it.” NEWSFLASH! God doesn’t bring you to trouble! If he brought you to trouble to deliver you from trouble that makes him at best, a puppeteer; at worst, schizophrenic.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
The old saints would also say “You have to be tested to be trusted.” I retort that if God placed His Holy Spirit inside you, then it’s safe to say that He trusts His own Spirit!
God knows you. He knows every atom of your being. He knows your thoughts before you think them, your words before you speak them, and your actions before you do them. What you do is no surprise to Him.
So why would He have to test you. Give THAT a minute to sink in!
God, the Father, is the Creator. Jesus is the redeemer. The Holy Spirit is the equipper (for the outdoorsy-types, that makes Him the outfitter — Ephesians 4:11-14 shows us this).
God is neither the architect nor the administrator of the test. No, that role falls to our adversary, the devil.
The devil is called the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). What is an accusation? It is an assault upon or a test of your character. He is also called the tempter. Now, when we think of temptation, we think of things like pride, lust, and covetousness — and, don’t get me wrong, the devil uses all of those thing to try to snare us.
But things are not always as they appear. I submit to you the etymological root of the word “tempt (via strongs):”
g3985. peirazo?; from 3984; to test ( objectively), i. e. endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline: — assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (- er), try.
AV ( 39)- tempt 29, try 4, tempter 2, prove 1, assay 1, examine 1, go about 1;
to try whether a thing can be done to attempt, endeavour to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quantity, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself in a good sense in a bad sense, to test one maliciously, craftily to put to the proof his feelings or judgments to try or test one’s faith, virtue, character, by enticement to sin to solicit to sin, to tempt of the temptations of the devil after the OT usage of God: to inflict evils upon one in order to prove his character and the steadfastness of his faith men are said to tempt God by exhibitions of distrust, as though they wished to try whether he is not justly distrusted by impious or wicked conduct to test God’s justice and patience, and to challenge him, as it were to give proof of his perfections
In other words, to tempt is to test. Line that up with the core scripture and you see that God is not the administrator of the test.
Like any prosecutor, the devil is seeking to amass evidence against you that is greater than the evidence of Jesus inside you.
The enemy desires to test you and your faith. Why? Because he knows that if he can dampen your faith, you will lose confidence in the object of your faith. He knows, like Hebrews 11:6 declare, that without faith it is impossible to please God. The devil knows he displeases God and, guess what, misery loves company! He walks around like a noisy lion hoping to scare you with his roar that you may self-destruct. Like Peter, the devil wants to sift you as wheat.
Let me share a bit of evidence with you:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Did you catch that? If it is a good and perfect gift it’s from God. The trials of life are neither good nor perfect; therefore they cannot come from God!
A test may reveal a positive result but the test, itself, is not from God. Sickness, poverty, pain, and lack are neither good nor perfect gifts, therefore they cannot be from God. And because the trials of life steal from you, strive to kill you, or seek to destroy you, they line up with the enemy’s objective and not with the abundant life promised by Jesus in John 10:10.
The Test is Pervasive, Persistent, and Personal…
Pervasive — The test is everywhere. Around every corner. Remember, though, the devil is a created being and he’s not omniscient. satan is not a mind reader. His best intelligence comes from us! Sometimes you get the test because you invite the test. We need to learn to watch what we say. Even though the devil has been defeated, he walks the earth, roaring, hoping to scare you into making destructive decisions.
The good news is that God is omnipresent! No matter how pervasive the test is, God’s presence prevails!
Persistent — The test never ends. Jesus told us that in this world we’d have tribulation. So as long as you are a resident of earth, you can count on trials. Even though the cross gives us a pervasive, persistent, and personal “not guilty” verdict, the enemy will strive to bring us under condemnation. Remember, satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
The good news is that God said He’d never leave you nor forsake you. Remember, when the storms of life rock your boat, know that Jesus is in the boat, resting..
Personal — Your test is YOUR test. We can’t copy our neighbors answers and you must rely on your own relationship with God! While I’m here, we must be careful to never judge our fruit against others. The fruit God looks for is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) — His Spirit, not yours!
We’re supposed to be fruit DETECTORS, not fruit INSPECTORS. Matthew 7:16 tells us that we will know people by their fruit (evidence of), not by how good their fruit is (quality of).
The good news is that Jesus said He would not leave us comfortless. GOD LOVES YOU. You are His image and likeness — He has a personal interest in your success because you are a reflection of Him!
But we have the Power.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
That’s a good point to shout, right there. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you! Greater is He (the equipper) that is in you than he (the tester) who is in the world! We have been made more than conquerors through Christ.
What about Job? Didn’t God test Job? Nope. It was the devil who tested Job. You could build an entire study around Job but — for the sake of this morning’s discussion — suffice it to say that Job was missing something that you and I take for granted: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. And because we have the mind of Christ, we are able to discern who the enemy is. If you go back and look through the book of Job, you’ll see that it was satan who tried to crush Job. And, even though Job never cursed God for his trouble, he had zero revelation concerning who it was that was testing him — he supposed that the Lord gave and the Lord took away.
What about Paul? Didn’t God test Paul? Nope. Paul clearly understood that the “thorn in his flesh” was the messenger of satan.
2 Corinthians 12:7-9
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “ My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
Let me point out to you that inanimate things cannot be messengers. This messenger Paul referred to is either a person or a demonic being. Trials are not messengers! And the good news here is that if the tester or one of his messengers shows up, God’s Grace is both abundant and Sufficient for you to overcome!
How do you know when you pass the test? You will know in two ways:
You will know it experientially
When you can count it all joy:
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
When we can testify:
And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
The tests will come but how do we respond. Revelation tells us that we OVERCOME by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Some people say there is no testimony without a test — I will beg to differ on that but I digress — but your testimony will attest to the passing of your test. Out testimony should be how speaking the Word was the key to our victory.
You will know it evidentially
When you realize that, at the cross, Jesus passed the test you were destined to fail. Because He was raised from the dead. Because He gave you His Holy Spirit. Because he destroyed the works of the devil. Because he disarmed all rulers and authorities and put them to open shame.
So here’s the finish line: the test may be tough. The test may be painful. But God’s Grace is revealed to manifest His Glory:
1 Peter 1:6-7
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith —more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire —may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In other words, the Good News is that if you remain steadfast in Christ, certain of His unconditional Love and Grace, conscious of your righteousness in Him, confident of your holiness by Him, you will pass the test. And know this, God has equipped us to be overcomers, not “going-through-ers.”