Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Why Does God Test Us?

Why are we tested? Why are we tempted?

What an amazing question. We see numerous times throughout the old testament and new testament where god’s people are tested.  Jesus himself was required to go into the wilderness where he would tested for forty days and forty nights.  Abraham was tested by God, when God commanded him to sacrifice his only son. Peter was tested. The apostle Paul was tested in many ways.  Why are we tested?

The word of God says, Each of you are being tested and purified through the fires of affliction that through these trials you may bring glory to God. 

Let’s talk about testing, and we’ll also talk on the way about temptation, which are two different things. 

As you all know you’ve been purchased by Jesus Christ, he’s adopted you into his family and you’ve given your life to His service.  If you’re a Christian, that’s the arrangement. Jesus bought you with his blood, to make you one with God, and now you are on the journey home to paradise. But we must still walk through this life, and face many trials and tribulations.

In the book of James we see that trials are intended to build our faith, purify our faith, and test our faith.  This brings glory to God.  God is pleased with this.  So every test and trial is intended to make you just a bit more like Jesus.  And it’s also a way for God to understand what you really believe and who you really are.  We can say that we love Jesus and we serve him alone, but what about when something terrible happens?  What about when we don’t get what we want? What about when something hard happens?  These are all times when God is watching to see what we will do.  Will they hold fast or will they turn back? 

As I wrote the sermon message for today, I was sitting within my house, with no power. During the storm on Friday in the early afternoon a tree fell from the neighbors house and landed mere inches from my house.  It missed the house, but it hit the high wires connecting the house to the power lines, and it ripped the power lines in half, and there were sparks and smoke everywhere outside the window. 

I had to wait for the fire department to arrive, and then waited again for over 4 hours for consumers energy to arrive and deal with the live wires sitting on my driveway.  Not only that, I was sick with stomach flu, no fever thankfully, from Tuesday through Friday.  I missed some work, and got behind on some things.  I had recently tried to adopt a dog from the humane society with special needs, and his special needs were too much, and we had to return him to the humane society which was very sad.  I had been trying so hard to lose weight but haven’t been able to lose much more than where I’m at now, then the sickness hit and I gained a bunch back from having to lay there everyday. All moments before kettle season starts.

These are all tests we go through.  How will I respond? Will I feel sorry for myself? Will I get angry with God? Or will I patiently endure these difficulties and grow as a person as a result?

Each trial builds us more and more into God’s disciple.  We’re pretty stubborn as people. So it takes painful trials to change us.  But the question was, why are we tested by God? Right?  So let’s address that.  Why does God put us through tests?  I think every trial God puts us through can be considered a test.

Which door will we walk through? Like on the video. Often times it looks like this: two doors.  One is easy. Maybe go get some pleasure or go do something, go get wasted, or go meet up with that guy or gal who you know is bad news, but your really lonely.  Or stay at home and honor God and feel kinda lonely.  And being a Christian is making the hard choice, over and over and over again. Going through that door that looks harder, that door that looks more painful.  But as we do, we’re walking on God’s path for our lives.  And each right decision draws us closer to God. And each wrong decision draws us further away from God.  It makes sense.

If I walk through that wrong door during the test, and go sleep with that woman, or go use that drug, or go to that party, or steal that thing I want, or lie about someone to hurt them, it affects me.  It changes who I am just ever so slightly.  Every time I open that door to sin, it makes the door easier to open and the sin is stronger in my life. 

And honestly, when you go through that temptation door, that sin door, each time you become a bit more cynical, a bit more jaded, a bit more resentment at God.

And you’ll notice that every time you succeed in a trial, succeed in a test, you’ll feel just a bit closer to God. You’ll feel a bit more hopeful. You’ll feel a bit more of God’s presence. 

This is really our journey through the wilderness.  I think we can compare it to Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt.  If you recall, God set the Israelite's free from slavery in Egypt, and they gathered around mount Sinai, and Moses climbed the mountain and came down with the ten commandments. But then Israel began their journey through the wilderness. And if you recall, they went through all sorts of trials and difficulties as they traveled. 

Will you trust God in the trial?  Will you trust God while you’re being tempted?  Will you trust God while you’re in a test That God is putting you through himself?  That is the question.  And that will determine the outcome of your trial.  It will determine whether you succeed or fail. 

The Israelites in the wilderness complained and grumbled, and even wanted to return to slavery in Egypt rather than go with God. They built the golden calf and worshiped it, instead of God. They rebelled against Moses and Aaron. Will we do the same?  We have God’s Spirit living within us.

But I get it.  It’s tough.  There have been times where I go through the wrong door, and go for sin, or temptation, or I question God’s goodness, or argue with God, or complain to God, instead of being obedient to Him.  But we always have that chance in the next test, to make the right choice and walk through the right door. Let’s not waste that chance though. God is patient.  And God is good. But let’s not test God.  God tests us, because he’s building us into his image, but we shouldn’t test Him. That’s not our place. 

So why does God test us?  God tests us to show to us what is really in our hearts. He already knows. But when we are tested, it shows us who we are, and sometimes its great we see we really do love God, and sometimes we see that we still have a long way to go, and then we can cry out to God to change us within.

In regard to temptation, temptation is sometimes part of a test we go through. We’re often tempted to do wrong, to make the easy choice, to go into sin, but God never tempts us.  Sometimes God leads us into situations where we face temptations, but God himself does not tempt us.  He is always calling us to do good, not evil.

This life is tests, trials, and temptations. Go through them patiently.  Trust God. And don’t doubt Him. These tests are a good thing. They change us into Christ’s likeness.