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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tests and Temptations

Last Sunday, my pastor cleared up something for me. I have long wondered why the Bible distinguishes between being tested and being tempted, when, to someone who is going through either, they would seem to appear the same. The distinction given is that God doesn't tempt people, but the devil does. God tests.

My pastor said something like this: The devil tempts us because he wants us to fail. God tests us because He knows we'll succeed.

I will cite three well-known Biblical examples of tests briefly.

The first things we hear of Joseph are not promising. He was, apparently, a spoiled brat. But God must have seen something in him. Joseph was allowed to be tested by Potiphar's wife, and also by the actions of his brothers. He triumphed, even though he was put in jail as a result of the first test, and sold into slavery as a result of the second. God knew what Joseph would do, but Joseph didn't. The biggest triumph was not his ascension to high office in Egypt. It was that he was able to forgive his brothers.

God allowed Job to be tested by the devil. Job triumphed. He didn't lose his faith in God, even though he lost almost everything else, except his wife, who tried to get him to renounce God.

As far as I know, the Bible doesn't specifically say that God was testing Job, or Joseph.

The most famous case (except for Christ, Himself) is that of Abraham. God tested him. Would he be willing to kill and sacrifice his only son? God knew what Abraham would do, but Abraham didn't.

There's another case that I would like to consider. That is the case of Ruth. Ruth could have stayed in Moab, but chose to leave, going to a place she had never seen, where she probably wasn't expecting much of a welcome, or worse, and all because she wanted to stay with Naomi, and have Naomi's God as her own. Why? It wasn't because Naomi had prospered. It must have been because Naomi, herself, stood a test, staying true to her faith when her husband and sons died, in a foreign land, leaving her as a defenseless widow. Ruth must have seen something attractive in her mother-in-law's life.

Ruth stood the test. She followed Naomi. She did what Naomi said she should. She didn't flirt with the Jewish young men around her (Boaz said that). She just picked up the grain left behind. As a result, she became one of the ancestors of the Jewish kings, and of Christ, Himself. God knew all this, but Ruth certainly didn't, when she decided to leave her home and set off with her mother-in-law.

Thanks for reading.


atlibertytosay said...

Excellent sermon!

God is THE God of success, happiness, and liberty!

Tim Jones said...

These are great examples that you cite here Martin. Thanks-I have a new study to do because of this.

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you, gentlemen.

God is the God of success, but it's not always measured as the world does.

You were, as you know, the inspiration for this, Pastor Tim, and I thank you.