D126 - Temptation is normal and to be expected
1 Cor 10:12-13 (NIV) reads,
‘No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.’
The Greek word for temptation is peirasmos or trial/ testing/ being tried/ temptation/ affliction.
The term ‘common to man’ is the Greek word anthropinos or belonging to human beings.
What it does imply is that as humans, temptation is normal. Hence, in the NIV translation, it uses the phrase, ‘when you are tempted.’
None of us are immune to temptations. Even Jesus was tempted. So was Abraham (Heb 11:17). Hence, it is not a sin to be tempted. The devil can only tempt us as far as God has given permission.
See D50 – Jesus intercedes on our behalf with God, for more information.
Why are we tempted?
1 Peter 1:6-7 answers this best:
‘In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’
Like any product, God also has his quality control process; God’s purpose is ‘ to test the genuineness of our faith.’
However, if we should fail, it is important that we return to God and seek his forgiveness because God will forgive us as he has promised in Matt 18:21-22.
Ps 37:23-24 says,
‘The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.’
Please see D115, Believers are not perfect and can still sin.
D127 - Most times, our desires entice us
James 1:14 says, ‘Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.’
All of us have our Achilles’ heel – a spot or area in our lives where we are weak in. Satan knows that and he targets the sector of our vulnerabilities (our own desires).
What are we tempted by? We are all tempted by the human elements described in 1 John 2:16 – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The way we counteract Satan’s temptation is still the same as how Jesus handled his with the words, ‘It is written’, (Matt 4:4).
May our knowledge of him and his words as well as our recognition of him in our walk – that is, our experience and knowledge of who God is, keep us from falling into the traps of the enemy.
For a complete picture, also see D126 – Temptation is normal and to be expected.
D128 - Believers grow through trials, sufferings, and testing
John 6:5-6 explains,
‘Seeing a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”
He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.’
Jesus already had the solution. But in asking the question and testing Philip, he caused him to learn and experience the power of God. The Greek word is perirozo or try/ tempt/ test/ make proof of.
In 1 Timothy 3:10, Paul explained that people who wanted to serve as deacons must ‘be tested first.’ The Greek word for tested is dokimazo or to put to the test/ prove/ examine/ approve after testing. Quality checking is biblical.
The author of the Book of Hebrews explains the value of disciplining as part of the growing process –
‘For what son is there whom his father does not discipline.’ (Hebrews 12:7)
Believers are NOT to fear suffering. In 1 Peter 4:13, the Apostle Peter said,
‘rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.’
The Apostle Paul went further in Romans 5:3-5 to explain what suffering will do for us – from tribulation to perseverance, from perseverance to character, and from character to hope. And it is a hope that will not disappoint as it is an ETERNAL HOPE. We are to ‘glory in (our) tribulations.’
So much so that in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, Paul said that their endurance to persecutions demonstrated they were ‘worthy of the kingdom of God.’
Paul was well qualified to talk about suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11:22-33, he shared about his own persecution. Here is a snippet:
‘Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.’
In the Old Testament, many of God’s people went through testing. Who could forget Abraham who was challenged by God to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering? In Genesis 22:2, God said to Abraham:
‘Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Of course, we know from Scripture that in the end, God stopped Abraham from planting a knife into Isaac but would Abraham have known that?
Earlier, Sarah asked Abraham, in a fit of jealousy and rage, to ‘cast out this slave woman (Hagar) with her son (Ishmael), for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son, Isaac’ (Genesis 21:10). And God endorsed the proposal with a promise that he would ‘make a nation of the son of the slave woman also because he (Ishmael) is your (Abraham) offspring’ (Genesis 21:13).
What did Abraham do? The Bible said that ‘Abraham rose early in the morning and took bread and a skin of water’ and he effectively sent both Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness of Beersheba. (Genesis 21:14). Abraham’s trust in God was unwavering, believing in his heart that God would keep his promise and look after Ishmael.
In another incident, Job, a most righteous man of God was also subject to intense testing. Yet, Job explained in Job 23:10 –
‘But he (God) knows the way that I take; when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.’
In Judges 2:22, God explained why he would not be driving out all the enemies of Israel ‘in order to test Israel by them.’
Trials, sufferings and testing are never easy and comfortable. But if God wants to know who we are, we will be tested. Trials, sufferings and testing enable us to know ourselves like never before.
Consider the experience of Horatio Spafford, a friend of the world-famous evangelist, D L Moody. Both he and his wife were wealthy, recognized (he was an established lawyer) and had five children. One child died of scarlet fever. But it was in 1873 that Spafford suffered his greatest test. Spafford sent his family ahead of himself even as he had to attend to business at home. Among them was his wife, Anna, and four remaining children, ages between two and eleven years old.
On 22 Nov 1873, while crossing the Atlantic on the steamship, Ville du Havre, their vessel was struck by an iron sailing ship. All four of Spafford’s daughters perished. Remarkably, Anna Spafford survived and on arrival in Cardiff, South Wales, sent a telegram to her husband with the words, ‘Saved alone …’
Out of this tragedy, Spafford gave us one of the greatest hymns in history, ‘It is well with my soul’, and the first line reads, ‘When peace like a river, attendeth my way ….’ Horatio’s faith in God never faltered.
Or the experience of Thomas Andrew Dorsey, a black musician acknowledged as ‘the father of gospel music’. While out singing at a revival meeting, his wife died when giving birth to their son. Subsequently, his newborn son died as well. It was from such intense pain that a new song was birth – ‘Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand.’ The song has been translated into more than thirty languages. Thomas Dorsey passed away on 25 Jan 1993, at a ripe old age of ninety-four.
Do not belittle and disregard trials, sufferings and testing. We must remember that it was out of the carcass of a dead lion that Samson found honey in it (Judges 14:8).
When tested, remember to ‘hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful’ (Hebrews 10:23).
D129 - Among men, there will be doubters
Jesus had just been resurrected and was interacting with his disciples and others. Yet, in Matt 28:17, it said ‘When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted.’
What was the writer’s motivation for putting the element of ‘doubt’ in the verse? Was not this the perfect ‘high’ and ‘climax’?
It happened even when Lazarus was miraculously resurrected. John 11:45-46 says,
‘But some of them went to the Pharisees (after witnessing Lazarus’ miracle) and told them the things which Jesus had done.’ They were setting Jesus up.
And it occurred even though the elites acknowledged the miracle that John and Peter did when they healed a lame man as an evidential, ‘notable sign’ (Acts 4:16).
Among men, there will always be doubters. Perhaps this is best explained by Jesus when he said,
‘You do not believe because you are not my sheep’ (John 10:26).
See also D113, All believers have been chosen before the foundation of the world.
D130 - Some believers will be disheartened in trials and drop out
! Timothy 4:1 is quite upfront when it says,
‘Now, the Spirit expressly says that in later times, some will depart from the faith (Christians) by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.’
Christians will be tested throughout our life journey and only the faithful will endure. Hence, the word of the Lord is for us to endure (Matthew 24:13).
The Greek word for ‘endure’ is hypomeinas or stand my ground/ show endurance/ bear up against/ persevere.
Paul shared the case of Demas who ‘in his love of this world’ had deserted him (2 Timothy 4:10). So did Alexander the coppersmith who actually ‘did me (Paul) great harm’ (2 Timothy 4:14). These people dropped out of being Christians.
Even Jesus suffered from a time when several of his purported disciples departed from him because they found his teachings too difficult. So much so that Jesus turned to his twelve and said, ‘You do not want to go away also, do you?’ Only for Simon Peter to reply, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that you are the holy one of God’ (John 6:66-69).
Heb 10:29 describes a situation when someone who had been a believer and decided to turn away and despise the faith. The writer highlighted this as gravely unacceptable. In Hebrews 6:6, the writer actually said that ‘it is impossible to restore them again to repentance since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.’
There is yet another question – Can Christians lose their salvation?
It is a tough question to answer but continuous sinning and other incidents seem to be render us ‘unchristianed’.
Please see S138 to S145 on Unpardonable sins for more information.