As disciples of Christ we suffer the same problems as everyone else. What is different for us is how we understand those problems. The pressures of life can cause us to doubt but if we understand that there is purpose in our trials and temptations we can better handle them. Think about the trials and temptations in your own life.
What is the difference between trials and temptations?
because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Faith grows as the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance makes us mature and complete. Paul said something similar when he said that perseverance under suffering leads to hope:
… we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)
Trials refine us to make us what God wants us to be.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)
Trials can MAKE us as we persevere
During trials we may be tempted to give in, to give up, to sin, but that is not from God.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. (James 1:13-15)
Sin also grows in stages as desire gives in to sin, sin grows, and leads eventually to death. Because of those stages, we have a chance to turn around, to walk away. Back in 2006 at an Apostolic Convention in Swansea, a speaker said,
Often situations give us thinking time. We see a temptation coming. There is a tipping point. If we call out to the Spirit at that point, we don’t have to do wrong. If we give in, we grieve the Spirit. There is also the tempting of the Holy Spirit to do good. We need to give in to that temptation and not refuse. Even if you are not sure, you are doing good anyway. If we refuse, we can quench the Spirit.
I wrote it down and I’ve never forgotten it.
Temptations can BREAK us because they lead us to sin
Many people think that if they could only be free, their life would be wonderful. But freedom gives us no guidance, no help, when we face trials and temptations. The kind of freedom we really need is one where there are boundaries, safeguards, guidance.
Here is an inspiring quote from an unlikely source – Frank Herbert’s Dune series of science fiction books:
Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty. ~ think about it!
(Chapter House Dune by Frank Herbert)
God tests us through trials but he doesn’t tempt us. The Spirit is always there to help us endure and grow, and to resist temptation.