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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Test or Temptation?

"Many fail in battle because they wait until the hour of battle...
Anticipate your battles; fight them on your knees
before temptation comes."
~ R.A. Torrey

Test or Temptation?

"If it had not been the LORD who was on our side ...
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,
The stream would have gone over our soul;
Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul."
~ Psalms 124:2,4-5 (NKJV)

"And lead us not into temptation ... "
~ Matthew 6:13 (KJV)

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.
~ James 1:13 (NKJV)

If anything is Greek to me, it's understanding the distinction between the related words peirazo, peira, peirasmos, peirazo as they are translated tempt[ation], try/trial, and test.

I also admit that Jesus instructing us to ask the Father "lead us not into temptation" presents an odd contrast with the Scripture which says God does not tempt. Of little help is the explanation I've heard that temptation is from the devil trying to make us fall and testing is from God trying to make us strong. When I'm going through it, temptation, trial and testing have little differentiation, and I seem as likely to stumble upon all three.

Perhaps the day will come when I can successfully discern between temptation, trial and testing, and more clearly see the best response. For now, I look at all three as a test allowed by God to make me more Christlike.

For now, I simply accept Jesus' instruction, and regularly offer this prayer:

Lord, when temptation comes, please use it to make us more holy, like You. Please use it to wash us not drown us, refine us not burn us. Please draw us to walk closely at the side of You, our Shepherd, and to acknowledge You in all our ways, so that we will follow You safely leading us around or above or even through temptation, but never into it, until we are beyond it.

Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2010, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. Thankfully we can lean hard when oppressed by temptation. So much usually rides on us not falling to it. Another reason to look towards eternity with longing. Thanx Anne.

  2. In all our circumstances we should look at Him and follow His lead, remember His commands... and we will come out as winners

  3. Either way, He's teaching us something.

  4. I've come a long way in discerning...I have a long way to go. I echo your prayer about the waters washing and not drowning us. Again cool Biblical phrasing..."swollen waters".

    May your Wednesday be blessed.
    ~ Wendy

  5. Temptation, test, try, trial are in this context all synonymous with suffering. Suffering that comes when our Father lifts a hedge of protection. Suffering that necessitates movement or growth.

    I think we look to Job. Our Father lifts His hand of protection, which is undeserved in the first place, then the devil moves in and tempts us.

    Glynn is correct, we have the opportunity to learn, depend on Jesus, grow closer to the Father . . . and like with Job, our Father is glorified.

    Also, in both the Old and New Testaments there are examples where being handed over to tempter is a part of judgement. But, judgment itself can and often does lead to redemption.

  6. I agree it is all difficult to grasp sometimes! Like Russell, Job comes to my mind also ~ severely tried, but God still had ultimate control. Also, of Peter, Satan desired to sift him, yet Jesus said He had already prayed for him that his faith would not fail. He even told him what to do after. And of Jesus. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

    I don't even want to think about how many times I have been drawn away because of my own fleshly desires.

    Ultimately, whether temptation, trial, or testing, I am glad God is still aware and in control. Whatever the situation, may we find ourselves restored, refined, and faithful.

    I really don,t like trials but I do like what they produce if we let Christ do His work in us.

  7. That's true- it's hard to tell the difference, but that RA Torrey quote in the beginning really sums it up for me. I just pray it gets deeper inside because I constantly forget.

  8. T. Anne, "so much rides on it" is a worthy reminder to face take all this seriously. But can I whine for just a minute? *I don't WANT to learn by being pressed hard.* (sigh) Okay, whining over! Bring it on, Lord.

    Natasa, I cannot argue with you. If only "should" and "does" always matched!

    Glynn, that's why I don't push myself too hard to grasp the difference. I suspect the response really isn't all that different, but I remain willing to learn otherwise.

    Wendy, "cool biblical phrasing" is pretty much how I feel about the whole Bible. I'll readily use any translation, but I do think the NKJV is wonderful for its lyricism.

    Russell, you're making me think hard again. Agreed about being released to the tempter as judgment. But must suffering be a necessary component of testing? Can't some tests be simply exciting and challenging? Thinking some more ...

    Patty, I have to admit that I wouldn't want a walk with Jesus that didn't include growing, and I know that occurs through the testing, trials, tempting. You've presented excellent examples I'm glad to have included here.

    Jason, you also about the forgetting? Aargh to that! Why oh why do we have to keep going back through the same tests? While they often take us to the next level, they more often simply seem needed as reinforcement of what we've already learned.

  9. I'd have to think about that a little myself. But, on first reflex I'd have to say that suffering, excitement and challenge need not be mutually exclusive. All three can be present at once.

    Our Father often lets us experience His power in our lives, which is excitement without the suffering, which teaches us, too, of course.


  10. I love the quote by R A Torrey. Excellent! Jesus knows where I am in this journey. If I ascend into the Heavens- He is there. If I descend into the pit- He is there. He knows my every weakness, so I must take all to Him in prayer.

  11. Our Father often lets us experience His power in our lives, which is excitement ...

    Okay, Russell. I can get on board with that. In fact, that probably defines my personality. I lean somewhat toward the exuberant (LOL) and I base it in this: "The joy of the Lord is my strength." I see His fingerprints everywhere, including which tests He allows. So if all that means suffering → God's power at work → excitement, then I'm in. :D

    Will you be sure to remind me of this from time to time?

  12. Tamika, if we prayed "without ceasing," can you imagine how much power for victory we might have as spiritual warriors?

    Even so, "We work from victory, not toward it." ~ Unknown


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