Trial, Testing and Temptation
by Wayne D. Turner
Every Christian should understand the source of adversity in one's walk with the Lord. There exists a widely-circulated position among Christians that victorious Believers never experience adversity. However, the Bible teaches that Christians do experience adversity - even when they are giving close attention to their walk with the Lord. Let's begin this discussion by introducing some of the Greek words that identify this concept of adversity in the committed Christian's life:
Now, with the definitions out of the way, let's put it all together. Let me first point out that none of these terms identify chastisement from God. That's a different concept entirely, a result of disobedience or rebellion against God. God orchestrates chastisement (I Corinthians 11:29-32, Hebrews 12:6-8), but Satan brings adversity with God's permission. However, we will show that all the terms listed above identify the same concept of trouble (aka adversity) coming into the Christian's life.
So, why does God allow Satan to bring adversity into the Believer's life? That we see in Romans 5:3, "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;" Adversity is God's means to patience. I like to use this illustration. How did you learn to drive a nail with a hammer without hitting your thumb and fingers? Answer: By hitting your thumb and fingers. The adversity (pain) of missing the head of the nail caused you to be more patient. Romans 5:4 goes on to say, "And patience, experience; and experience, hope:" We gain experience in our Christian walk through adversity just like we gained experience in driving a nail. Note: When you pray for patience, it comes through adversity. You will observe that James makes the same relationship between adversity and patience in James 1:2-3, "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience." As a matter of fact, he ties two of our words together, "temptation" and "trying." On the surface, they may seem like different concepts, but they really are not. It works like this: Satan presents adversity in our way to tempt us to respond in a way that is not pleasing to God. That's what is described in James 1:12, "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried (approved), he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." Peter associates "trial" and "temptation" in I Peter 1:6-7, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:" So you see, "temptation" and "trial" speak of the same process. However, sometimes Believers fail a trial as is described in James 1:14, "But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." No worry though; the trial is simply repeated until we get it right. Here's my rule of thumb: When I experience adversity, I immediately go to God to learn all the lessons from the experience that I possibly can in the shortest period of time. Yes, adversity is necessary, but I don't see any need to wallow in it any longer than necessary. I need to prove to God that I've gained the patience and experience from it that was intended. On that very issue of adversity, James 1:5 says, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him." I ask, "Why?" God gives the answer.
Believers are made strong through adversity. That's actually true in many endeavors, sports, business, skills, etc. We learn to do things correctly by experiencing the consequences of doing them incorrectly. Adversity is a part of life. It shouldn't, therefore, be a surprise to us that our faith is strengthened by adversity as well. Jesus promised that we would have adversity in John 16:33. We have a nice guarantee, however, in I Corinthians 10:13, "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, that ye may be able to bear it." God will never allow Satan to bring more adversity into your life than you, as a Believer, are able to bear. Adversity is designed to make you stronger, not defeat you.
Then there's the ministry aspect associated with adversity in II Corinthians 1:3-4, "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." When you have victoriously overcome a certain kind of adversity, God will use you to comfort others who are experiencing similar adversities, whether it be sickness, financial loss, death of love ones or other troubles which are "common to man."
If you would like to know more about differentiating between trial and chastisement, click here to read the article on Trial and Chastisement.