Life is full of so many things. At times life is full of joy, happiness, and excitement. While at other times life is full of despair, sadness, anxiety and disappointments. But one thing is for sure, every believer will have to face on a constant basis, trials and temptations. The key to handling both of them is to know the difference.
Every believer faces temptations. For a believer a temptation is something or someone that tries to entice you to do something wrong, particularly as it relates to the Word of God. Many believers deceive themselves by thinking the temptation is coming from God. James 1:13-15 tells us that no man should think that when he/she is tempted they are being tempted by God. God Himself, cannot be tempted with evil and He will never tempt anyone to do evil. The passage goes on to say, that every person is drawn away from doing the right thing by his/her own lust, and it is our lust that entices us to give in to the temptation.
Life itself is an analogy to how temptations can lead to death. Life begins at conception, then there is a birth, followed by maturity and then death. Our lust gives birth to the temptation or whatever is tempting you. If we do not deal with the lust, it matures to the point where we cannot avoid giving in to temptations any more, which leads to more sin, which will eventually lead to our death.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us that if we are to run with patience the race God has given us, we must lay aside every weight that holds us back and THE SIN, that so easily ensnare us. In order to deal with THE SIN, we must first recognized it is first conceived through our lust and we must deal with the lust problem.
The Bible gives us some helpful advice on how to deal with this deceptive issue. Romans 13:14 says, “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” We should avoid trying to seek opportunities to satisfy our deep seated desires of our sin nature, (which every believer still has) and seek as often as possible, works that are consistent with our new walk and life in Jesus Christ. In addition, I have learned through much trial and error, it is also important to think about what you are thinking about, in order to avoid deceiving our own selves. The words in 2 Timothy 2:22 encourages us to flee from youthful lust, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with them that call on the Lord with a pure heart. Youthful lusts are also deep seated desires inside of believers who are not yet mature in some areas of their lives.
As much as possible we are to avoid all temptations. But the same is not true for trials and tests of life. As I have said in previous articles over the years. Every believer has enrolled in God’s School of Faith. God wants us to grow from faith to faith, which is like saying, He wants you to graduate from one level/grade to the next, so He can use you more and more for His glory. God uses trials or tests to mature us.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in studying God’s Word, is that we fail to realize that God can use the same word for different meanings. For example, James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man that endures temptations for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life.” In that verse the word temptations is referring to trials or tests from God. God does not want us to avoid or run from trials. Our endurance and victories over trials and tests is how we grow in faith, and just as importantly, it is a primary means of how God blesses us!
It is critical for every believer to know the difference between a trial/test and a temptation. If you are being tempted avoid it, run from it and access/judge your lust problem. If it is a trial or test, stay in it until God pulls you through it and learn and grow from it.
Temptations are used by the devil to bring out the worst in us, while trials/tests are used by the Holy Spirit to bring out the best in us. All believers face similar temptations according to I Corinthians 10:13, but not all believers experience the same tests or trials. Every test or trial you go through is tailor-made just for you by God and each experience is unique. Don’t be deceived by those who try to help you because they tell you, “I know what you are going through.” They do not and cannot!
It is somewhat of a compliment from God when He sends us a test or trial. It is a clear sign that God wants to promote us. And we must always realize that God will never give you a test or trial if He did not know beforehand; you are ready for it.
Knowing the difference between a test or temptation gives you directions on how to move forward!
Gilbert Owens is a native of Roseboro and a columnist for The Sampson Independent.