When I started preparing this message I intended to draw a definitive line between what temptations are and what tests are and then to highlight God’s involvement in either situation; I still want to do that. However, one thing that I want to add is that within every temptation is a test and within every test is a temptation. Three things that I would like for us to remember about God in our temptations and tests is that 1-God is not responsible for our temptations; 2-(something that I am sure we are all of aware) God does sometimes test us and 3- I believe that this is really important because how we interpret what we read in the Bible about temptations and tests, and how we view our own experiences with these will paint how we view God. The last thing we need to remember is that, in either situation, God wants us to be successful.
The first thing that we need to know about God in temptations and tests is that God is not the one who is responsible for your temptations. READ JAMES 1:13.
One major reason why I believe God is not responsible for your temptations is because of the goal of temptations. Temptations have two specific goals. The first goal of temptations is to disconnect you from God. When you are tempted you are being drawn out from under your place of safety and security as well as being drawn away from your power connection, which leads to temptations next and ultimate goal.
The next goal of temptations is ultimately to kill you. I think of it in terms of a mouse and a mousetrap. When we want to get rid of mice in our house we use a mousetrap. Now, in order to catch the mouse we have to draw it out from its safe place, so we tempt the mouse with cheese or peanut butter. The intention is for the mouse to give into its lust; its craving, take the bait and trip the trap at which point the mouse should die in the clutches of the mousetrap. So it is with our own temptations (James 1:15). “But God…”
Now, God’s involvement in our temptations is this, that He makes an exit for us to escape the temptation. READ 1 COR. 10:13. The reason why I say that God is not responsible for your temptations is because God is at work trying to deliver us from the temptation, which is why the Father sent Jesus and why Jesus sent the Comforter. Now let’s talk about the other side of the coin – tests.
The second thing that we need to know about God in temptations and tests is that God is responsible for the tests that we go through. READ THESS. 2:4; PROV. 17:3.
Like temptations, tests also have two goals. However, they are different. The first goal of a test is to help perfect you. READ DEUT. 8:1-3. In this passage God tells the Israelites that He wanted them to know what was in their hearts so that they would know if they would/would not obey Him. By testing us, God is able to help us identify areas in our lives where we are weakest so that we can work on perfecting those areas. Chuck Swindoll explains it this way,
“the star performer…didn’t achieve their excellence by behaving a certain way only in the game. Instead, [they] chose an overall life of preparation…to provide a foundation in the body’s automatic response and strength for [their] conscious efforts during the game” (Swindoll 125).
The next goal is to establish within us a Godly response to temptations. READ JAM ES 1:2-4. Like the star performer which Chuck Swindoll mentioned, Gods testing is for training and preparation so that when we do find ourselves being tempted we will know how to properly respond in a way that pleases God and which will help us to mature and grow stronger. Testing helps us to recognize when Satan is trying to draw us away from God, when he has set a trap for us so that instead of giving in to the temptation and causing ourselves to be disconnected from God we can turn to God; which is what God wants.
The last thing that I think we should know about God in temptations and tests is that, in either case, God wants us to be successful because to not succeed would be sin. He wants us to overcome the temptations and pass the test. Remember that in every temptation is a test, and in every test you can find a temptation. If temptations overtake us so that we cannot respond in a Godly way, in a way that pleases and honors God then we commit what the Bible calls sin. When we sin we fail – we fail to reflect the image of God. In Created for Community Stanley Grenz says that what the Bible calls sin “refers to our inability to be what God desires us to be. It speaks of our failure to fulfill God’s intention for us.” So, he says, “sin is the failure to reflect the image of God.”
By testing us God helps to cultivate within us a champion spirit; a winning spirit. Whether in temptations or test God wants us to come out on top which is why He gave Cain that pregame talk about sin waiting to overtake him. God told Cain that instead of sin winning the battle he should win. SUCCESS!
Adam Clarke once said that “God never permits any tribulation to befall His followers which He does not design to turn into their advantage” (Clarke 211). God wants us to overcome the temptations of life which is why He will often times put us to the test so that we can develop a winning spirit which will produce a Godly response to the temptation. The last thing that I want to say about this is that God knows what we need to be successful. READ 2 PETER 2:9.
To sum things up let me say that while at times we may want to credit God for our temptations, He is not to blame. However, while God is not responsible for our temptations, at times He will put us to the test. Temptations destroy us by drawing us away from God until our connection is broken, but by testing us God is able to help strengthen our weak areas, the areas where temptations hurt us the most, and through perfecting our weak areas God establishes within us a Godly response to temptations so that ultimately – WE WIN!