Saturday, September 17, 2005

Handling Adveristy - Trials and temptations: What's the difference?

Trials and Temptations
What the difference?

In looking at the “Big Picture” backdrop of our lives we examined two major aspects. The first is that suffering is a guarantee. The other is that there are two forces working in our lives beside ourselves: Satan and God. It is easy for us to comprehend that Satan would work against us but, it may be a harder concept to grab hold that God may be bringing some suffering and difficulty in our lives. We see evidence of God being the active force behind why the man was blind as found in John 9:1-5. So, as we begin to find Bible answers to our many “Why…” questions, we need to keep an open mind as to what it will tell us. This study will provide some information on how temptation and trials work in our lives but why it is present will be left for the next two subjects.

The first place we need to start in understanding how God and Satan influence our lives and experiences is to look at the difference in what each is trying to do. We are told in Romans 8:28

Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

What exactly does this mean? Some would say that this is a promise by God of health and wealth to His followers. However, we must first define what the “good” is identified in this scripture. What is it that God wants most above all? Recall what is said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” God most definitely is interested in the souls that live in His creation. Jesus’ goal on this earth was reaching souls to show them the way to the Father. The good that is identified in Romans 8 is what is stated as the purpose of writing the book of John in John 20:30-31

Joh 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
Joh 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

The good that God wants for us is to have a relationship once again so that we can have everlasting life through Jesus.

Contrast this with what Satan is trying to achieve. As we noted in 1 Peter 5:8

1Pe 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Satan is only seeking to devour and destroy. There is no everlasting “good” that he is attempting to bring into our lives. Notice that I said everlasting good because there are temptations that will come our way that will seem good to this life at the time but will result in our destruction. Remember what is said of Eve when she was tempted, that she looked on the fruit and saw that it was good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desired to make one wise. Those can all be “good things” but when you consider that taking and eating of this tree was forbidden, what was “good” in the short term had a long-term consequence of destruction and separation from God. There is no good that is accomplished following Satan.

Thus we can see that God seeks to work good in our lives, a good that achieves everlasting life with Him. Satan only seeks our destruction, to devour us. This brings us to a subtle but very important difference between two words: trial and temptation. By understanding the difference between these two words and how they work in our lives we will be far along in dealing with them when they occur. Recall the introduction and the simple illustration of an athlete in training. They train themselves continually often causing pain physically in order to achieve something more important: winning the event. Is their training good for them? If you consider only the pain, you would say no. But to really answer the question you must look at the result achieved and when the event is won, the training is good.

I had a manager when I was fresh out of college that was always trying to keep our spirits up about the problems we’d have at work. He would say, “They are not problems, but opportunities to excel.” That’s a glass is half full perspective on problems! This piece of wisdom is mirrored and much more meaningful in what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians.

1Co 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.

Think about the great hope and promise that this should provide. I can spiritually win at everything in my life because God will only allow things and events in my life that I can endure and be the victor. When you have a problem facing you that seems difficult or impossible to overcome, remember this: God knows you can do what’s right or He wouldn’t allow it to be there. This is not a promise that the conditions leading to the temptation will be removed or eliminated but there is a way provided to endure it.

Hint: look these two English words up in both a regular dictionary and a Greek dictionary such as Vine’s. Provide the root Greek word along with the definition.
1) Trials

2) Temptation


1) Read the context of James 1:12-15. What is said about the following things:
· Temptation

· Trials

· God

· Desire

· Lust

· Sin

2) What other scriptures can you find that talk about temptation?

3) What other scriptures can you find that talk about trials?

4) Coming back to the context of Romans 8:28, what painful events in your life have resulted in something good?

5) Read 1 Peter 1:7. What is it that is tried and what is the result achieved? If you can, try to find out the process to refine gold.

6) What are some of the other names used for Satan? List scripture.

7) Can a trial turn into a temptation and if so, when does it happen? Provide some examples.

8) In some scriptures the word “test” is used. List some of these and define the word based on the context. Who is it that is giving the test in each of them?

9) Find scriptures that talk about testing or tempting God. What is being discussed in these passages?

10) Thought question. As we can read in John 1:1, 14, Jesus is God in the Flesh. We see throughout the New Testament, the word used in the English, that Jesus was tempted. Yet as we read in James 1:12-15, God is not tempted. How can you harmonize scripture in these cases?