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Mustard Seed May/June 2013
Letter From the Editor
Pentecost - A Promise Kept
The Faith Once Delivered To The Saints
How many of God's people have endured unthinkable terrors? We live in the most peaceful nation while many brethren in times past endured terrible suffering and death:
HEBREWS 11:36-37 And others had trial (G3984 = trials) of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: 37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted (tested), were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
No one can imagine horrors such as these. Paul lists some of the trials they endured, including temptations. What is the difference between trials and temptations? Trials are afflictions of fear, pain, suffering, loss, neediness, weakness,aloneness, rejection, betrayal, and doubt. Temptations, however, are TESTS of character and obedience. They require us to make a choice whether or not to put God first, even if it is hurtful to us. Temptation is Strong's G3986, which can also be rendered testing (where G3985 is the verb form tempt or test). The primary distinction is that a trial is an affliction while a temptation or test is a situation wherein we have a choice, temptations and tests expose what's in our hearts and measure our faith. When a temptation or test comes upon us, we must make a choice: we can turn to God or away from God.
Abraham was tested (not tried) when God commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. When Abraham chose to obey it was then that God said, " ... now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." (Genesis 22:12). Tests also show US what is in our hearts. For instance, courage can only be demonstrated under conditions that produce fear; likewise, obedience to God can only be demonstrated when we are tested or tempted to turn away from Him.
JAMES 1 :12-15 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tFied (approved, i.e., God is pleased with the choice), he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13 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 (with evil): 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
God never tempts us with evil. God always tests our obedience. It is Satan that tempts us by appealing to our lusts, which is why he is called THE Tempter. Notice the distinction: God TESTS us and Satan TEMPTS us. The word used for both is the same and so the proper rendering is determined by the context.
1 THESSALONIANS 3:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter (Satan) have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
Let us be clear: tests from God do NOT involve evil though He tests us to prove our obedience as in the case with Abraham; lustful temptations are of Satan that can lead to sin. If there is no lust in us then we cannot be tempted with evil. Lust is the desire for that which God has defined as sin. If we succumb to temptations then it becomes sin. This is why Jesus is our perfect High Priest: He overcame all the evil temptations of Satan. Jesus Christ was also tested when He willingly suffered as our Passover. All of us are tested by God who also allows us to be tempted by Satan.
Certainly, we should always pray when tests come upon us as it is our only protection against temptation:
MATTHEW 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into (evil) temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Jesus overcame temptation by spending MUCH time in prayer to God. Likewise, if God is not first in our lives, we cannot resist Satan's temptations (James 4:7). In the parable of the sower, it is TEMPTATION that causes some to fall away:
LUKE 8:13 (The seed cast) on the rock are (people), which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation (or testing) fall away.
Temptation can also come in the form of judging others for their weaknesses. If we do, we may find ourselves likewise tempted; instead, we are to help others:
if a man be
overtaken in a fault,
ye which are
an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
It is through choosing obedience to God that we are able to bear the temptations and tests in this life. Unlike trials, God promises a way to escape temptations that become unbearable.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will
not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way
to escape (literally, an exit), that ye may be able to bear it. 14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved,
flee from idolatry.
Notice that Paul does NOT say that we will be entirely freed from a trial of temptation but rather that God will deliver us from that which is unbearable. This usually comes AFTER we determine to turn to God and resist Satan. This is the importance of verse 14 which says to flee idolatry. "Wherefore" implies God's help is conditional. We have two choices: flee from idolatry or run after it. If we resist Satan, then God will help us bear the trial of the temptation. In other words, God limits Satan's evil.
So why does Peter say to count it JOY when we are tested? Because we are choosing God and denying Satan. We know that we are truly the children of God if He tests us or allows Satan to tempt us because God wants to prove all His children while Satan hates those who are God's.
1 PETER 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice (be FULL of joy) , though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations (or tests): 7 That the trial (GJ 383 = act of testing for genuineness as with a coin) of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried (GJ 381 = lest for genuineness as with a gold or silver coin) with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
to prove whether
or not we are
hope is there? Therefore, if we choose obedience to God when tested and flee temptations we are actually
PRAlSING, HONORING, and GLORIFYING God. For us, temptations and tests produce patience as we wait
upon God in faith for deliverance:
JAMES 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations (testing); Knowing this, that the trying (G 1383 = act of testing for genuineness as with a gold or silver coin) of your faith worketh patience (G5278 = patient endurance, constancy).
Finally, God promises to keep us from the tribulation to come if we patiently endure temptations and tests: under duress. These things tell us much about ourselves and increase our faith or show us weaknesses that must be overcome.
REVELATION 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience (G5278 = patient endurance, constancy), I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
God tests all His children to see if we are truly seeking to please Him. He allows Satan to tempt us so that the desires of our hearts are manifested
1 THESSALONIANS 5:17-19; 21-24 Pray without ceasing. 18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 19 Quench not the Spirit.... 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. 23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it (preserve the saints).