Sunday, March 15, 2015
Test and temptation when all seems lost
When there seems to be no clear way, what are the temptations?
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
“When things get tough, the tough get going.” – so goes the saying. It sounds good, but there are times when we don’t get going – we don’t have it in us. What, then, are we tempted to do?
God never leads us into temptation in the worldly sense, but tests us through circumstances where we have to trust Him.
We pray and nothing seems to happen. We hold out and it seems we are all on our own. Our well-meaning friends talk about “being realistic”. Circumstances add to the feeling of hopelessness.
Right there we can see the temptation… the temptation to sin.
What is sin? It has various facets. Sin is basically like archery. It is loosing off at the wrong target, or falling short of the right target, or not believing we can get on target.
1. It is rebellion. That can be doing something when God has told us to wait on him. Circumstances (and sometimes other people) scream at us: “Do something!”. Someone will say that God helps them that help themselves. It’s not a thought found in the Bible, it’s a thought that’s found in the pub – but it becomes a real pressure. So here is the temptation to go beyond what God is showing us, to try to engineer our own solution to the problem.
2. It can be passivity. God has shown us something we need to do, to get straight, to put right with Him or another person, an attitude to change – and we are still found dithering.
3. It is frequently unbelief. This is the one that connects most directly with this verse. The temptation is not to believe God’s past and present promises, His love for you, His faithfulness. Because we rationalise what we can, or should, or perhaps should not, believe, this sin can lurk undetected. Remember Job? He was brought low, and God evidently allowed it. His friends came and gave him scant comfort by basically telling him it must have been his wrongdoing that had opened the door to misfortune. Sometimes, of course, it is about us foolishly giving the devil access, but in Job’s case it was not. However, he is both tested in his extreme experience, and from every direction tempted to offend God in unbelief – even his wife told him to blame God. Job held out, and in the end God blessed him with far more than he had lost.
CHECK IT OUT
Do you see the faith tests of life as generally strengthening – or damaging?
Has there been an episode that you remember as ‘damaging’ and which the enemy uses to bully your thoughts towards unbelief? Ask a pastor or trusted friend to pray help you pray this through into the light.