Posted on June 3, 2013
God’s Test or Satan’s Trap? Part 1
We’ve all been there—at a moment of decision, wondering which of the options in front of us is right. What to do……
You feel drawn one direction, yet your “gut” is warning you it may be the wrong way. Is it wrong? Is this a trial God has put before you to see what you’ll do? If so, can you pass the test by making the right choice? Or is this Satan tempting you, and you’re in trouble no matter what you choose?
Interesting that the same Greek word—peirasmos—can be translated either “trial, test” or “temptation.” How can we know the difference? Today we’ll examine temptation. Tomorrow we’ll look at some important signs that set apart God’s test from Satan’s trap!
The lure of temptation
Dry skin is a winter hazard. It’s miserably itchy and whispers, begs, PLEADS, SCREAMS to be scratched. You can’t stop thinking about the relief it would be to scratch just for a minute. You ignore the little voice of warning. You give in and scratch, and it feels wonderful—for the moment. But then you keep scratching. It begins to feel raw and sore. The lotion that might have been a comfort burns. There is no relief. If you keep scratching it will bleed, it will eventually become infected, and you’ll be in a mess.
This is a tiny picture of how temptation works. It cajoles, begs, WHINES, DEMANDS for you to give it a try. You can’t stop thinking about how good it would feel to give in just once. You ignore voices of warning—God’s, family’s, friends’, your own. When you relent, it feels wonderful—for the moment. Then soon, it doesn’t feel so good. Next thing you know, related problems begin to crop up. By the time you’ve recognized the lure for what it was, the trap snaps. You’re caught, and there is no relief.
James describes the process when he writes, “…every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire…. Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, AMP)
To tempt means “to try, to test, to draw or allure.” Satan’s trick is to make sin look so enticing that we’re sure we can’t live without it. Temptation is rarely a one-time deal. Satan is relentless, using our weaknesses to lure us toward sin—just like a patient fisherman draws his lure through the water again and again until he gets a bite.
Temptation may be powerful but it is not sin. Jesus was tempted and sinless (Heb. 4:15). Sin happens when we say yes to temptation. Only when we give in does the trap snap.
A way out
The good news is, God won’t allow you to be put in a position of temptation that you cannot resist. You are never without escape. Comedian Flip Wilson’s line, “The devil made me do it” may have been cute but it has never been true! “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.” (1 Cor. 10:13b)
So relax. You’re not hopelessly trapped; God is there, guiding you to the escape hatch, if you’re willing to listen to His voice. I love the assurance of Isaiah 30:21: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'”
How can you be sure the voice you’re hearing is God’s? Can you distinguish between God’s test and Satan’s trap? Check in tomorrow!
© Diane McLoud 2013