Posted on June 4, 2013
God’s Test or Satan’s Trap? Part 2
You’re grappling with a decision, unsure whether this is a test from God or a trap from Satan. You want to please God, to make the right choice. But you’re not certain how to know God’s test from Satan’s trap.
It’s a situation we’ve all faced. Yesterday, we discussed temptation—how it feels and what it leads to. We also learned that God will never allow Satan to hopelessly overwhelm us; He’ll always provide a way out. The Bible warns against temptation, just a few verses after telling us to “consider it all joy” to encounter trials and the testing of our faith (James 1:2-3, 13-15). All these verses use the same Greek word for trials/tests and temptations (peirasmos). Is God trying to confuse us? Can we distinguish between a divine test and a devilish trap?
Here are five questions to ask when unsure about a choice.
1. “Will my choice cause me to disobey God in any way?”
Temptation will contradict the Bible, either directly or in how it tempts us to react. We’ll be prompted to think, feel and do ungodly, guilt-rendering things. Temptation will try to convince us that disobeying God is the only reasonable option. A test, on the other hand, will not contradict scripture and will not lead us to disobey God.
2. “How does the choice I’m considering make me feel?”
Feelings are fickle (Jer. 17:9), and they cannot be our only guide. But they can be a guide. Responding to temptation quickly feels wrong—though if we hush voices of warning we’ll eventually stop hearing them. In a test, our response feels increasingly right as the circumstances around us begin to right themselves. (Notice, the circumstances begin to right themselves; a full return to “peace” may take time. Endurance may be part of the test.) Think beyond the moment; how might this choice feel in a year? in ten years?
3. “Can I identify what brought me to this choice?”
When we dig for the source, we’ll find that temptation often comes from within—as James says, from “our own evil desires”—ugly from conception. A test comes from without—from circumstances that happen to us, to which we can respond in either a godly or ungodly way.
4. “Have I prayed about this choice?”
With each step in, a temptation will be difficult to pray about because prayer will produce guilt. A test will be easy for us to bring before God.
5. “If I make this choice, where do I see the first steps leading me?”
Each step into temptation incrementally leads down, to more trouble and additional temptation. We’ll veer further from truth and further from scripture. We’ll avoid church and Christian friends because they increase our guilt. Each step of a test incrementally leads up, to more peace and less temptation. We veer toward truth and we see scripture confirmed. We cling to church and our Christian friendships, drawing strength from them.
Different Purposes, Different Results
In his book Turning Toward Integrity, David Jeremiah writes, “When a fiendish murderer takes a knife to slash the flesh of his victim, it is for the purpose of destroying the victim. But when a skilled surgeon uses a blade to cut the flesh, it is for the purpose of healing. Satan is the murderous tempter. Our Lord is the skilled surgeon. In other words, Satan tempts us to bring out the bad (James 1:13-19). God tests us to bring out the good (James 1:1-12).”
We can prepare ourselves in advance for God to bring good from our moments of decision by:
• knowing the Word. The question “What does the Bible say?” should be the bedrock under any choice we make. We’ll be prepared to answer that question if we build a solid knowledge of the Bible day by day.
• praying for God’s leading as a matter of habit. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
• building relationships with strong Christian friends. When needed, we’ll have prayers, advice and help from people who trust God with their own lives.
• staying tuned to God’s voice. In little everyday matters, we train ourselves to follow God’s lead without question or hesitation. Then when we need to hear Him clearly, we’re practiced at listening!
God’s test or Satan’s trap? My prayer is that you feel better prepared to tell them apart. God bless you as you choose Him!
Share your thoughts…..
Have you struggled with knowing God’s test from Satan’s trap? How has God led you in moments of choice? What lessons can you share?
© Diane McLoud 2013