June 21, 2013
Trials and Temptations
By Skip Heitzig
There are a couple of different factors that can lead to your becoming mature as a Christian—but you won’t like either one of them!
Trials (or testings) are things that God uses to mold us, to strengthen us, and to teach us patience. But God also can use the temptations that are sent from the devil. Whatever happens in your life, God will use it as a tool. As Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.”
However, trials can turn into temptations if we don’t handle them right. During a trial, we may complain against God, doubt His love for us, or move away from Him. If we do, Satan can come along and offer an escape from the trial: “You don’t have to go this hard way. Here’s another way that’s a lot easier.” Essentially, that’s what temptation is.
God’s desire is that we grow, that we become complete and mature, but He has to use trials to do it. Further, we would not become mature if He sheltered us from every temptation of Satan…and He doesn’t (remember Job). He doesn’t lead us into temptation, He doesn’t tempt us, but He often allows Satan to tempt us—and even that can be worked for our good.
But, as James tells us, we can’t blame God for the temptations. “But let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil” (that is, solicited to do evil) “nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13).
It’s interesting that we don’t want to assume the responsibility for our actions. We try to weasel our way out by blaming someone or something else. It’s just the nature of man.
We don’t want to assume the responsibility for our sin. Adam tried that in the garden. God held him responsible for falling to temptation, and Adam’s response was, “It was the woman that You gave me.” Really, he was blaming God. And that is still going on today. It’s always man’s nature to blame somebody else. It’s difficult for us to say, “I was wrong, I did it.”
We put ourselves in very open, vulnerable positions. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). In other words, there are no excuses!
So we need to stay away from those situations that will put us into a position where we can be tempted. (If you have a problem with gluttony, don’t have your quiet time in a Winchell’s!) We know our weak areas. We can’t blame anyone but ourselves and our old nature, our flesh.
The good news is contained in 1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” Trust in that!
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