I was part of a discussion on a social media platform and I thought to share it here.
I trust you will be blessed by it.
[Q refers to the person who asked the question, P1-3 were other participants in the discussion, A refers to myself]
Q: I have a question. I need us to examine it thoroughly.
Are trials from God or from Satan?
P1: First,what is a trial?
P2: Test of your faith. Test of the strength of your beliefs.
P1: Okay. So, who will test your Faith or the strength of your Faith? God or the devil OR God and the devil?
Temptation is clear,God doesn’t tempt us cos it is designed to make you fall and it is evil.
P3: On trials… I don’t think trials come from God.
My belief is this, temptations are a form of trials, to test what we truly believe. Also, in the parable of the wise and foolish builder, Jesus said trials of life will come (this I believe is a result of the fall of man and the earth with him), but he didn’t say he was the one trying their faith.
My 2 cents
A: Saints and Perils
TEMPTATIONS are pleasurable experiences that lead you to give up self control and sin against God. They are set up by the devil and allowed by God within our capacity.
The aim is to give access to the devil into your life with the ultimate objective being death and destruction.
Temptation is overcome by resistance which could involve fleeing.
James 1:12 – 16: Blessed [is] the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren.
1Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God [is] faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [it.]
TRIALS are unpleasant experiences and they are TARGETED AT THE FAITH of those who have it. It aims at BREAKING YOUR CONFIDENCE IN THE WORD OF GOD. They are orchestrated by the devil and allowed by God within our capacity. Knowing the quality that faith IS and has, God is not afraid to let it be tested.
The objective is beyond making you fall into sin. It’s for you to deny your faith in God out of frustration a d if you do, swift destruction often follows. But the beneficial side effect is that your faith gains new perspective and thus strength.
Mark 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth FOR THE WORD’S SAKE, immediately they are offended.
1Peter 1:3-7: Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [GK: putting to proof by experiences of good or evil, adversity, try] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Trials are overcome easier when the objective is clear to the person being tried. All he has to do then is to retain a steadfast resolution that God is good and faithful and is not behind the unpleasant experience. Of course, other spiritual arsenals may be brought into play such as praying, fasting and so on.
PERSECUTIONS are unpleasant experiences set up by the devil and allowed by God. The aim is to slow down or stop the advancement of the kingdom of God. Thus, by definition, if a person is being persecuted, it must be because, and only because, the person is actively pushing the Gospel of the Kingdom.
There is no cure for persecutions. We cannot overcome it. We may escape it, run from from it, be spared it or delivered from it but we cannot resist it. In fact, we are to rejoice over it.
John 15:18-20: If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, FOR MY SAKE. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
This should not be confused with acts of violence against Christians.
Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth [his] hands to vex [GK: to exasperate, harm, hurt, make evil affected] certain of the church.
The basis for the violence could be religious persuasion but the objective is not against the Gospel but against the Christian.
So those recent killings of Christians in the North because they were eating while moslems are fasting or whatever else are acts of violence that should be condemned in every way possible.
There is also SUFFERING, and in my opinion, it is an unpleasant experience for the which the objective eludes the victim. He doesn’t know why he is in the predicament and based on his level of understanding, he could blame it on God or the devil or both, depending on how he is feeling per time. This will continue until knowledge comes and truth sets and makes free. This has no prejudice to whether the person is a Christian or not.
TRIBULATIONS are unpleasant experiences. In simple language it means trouble. And it could be in the form of a temptation, or a persecution or a trial.
AFFLICTIONS are unpleasant experiences. The issue with this word is not the experience itself but it’s origin. It betokens the intentional targeted attack on a person. Therefore, it can take the form of a temptation, trial, or persecution.
Then, there is also the TEST. This is from God. The objective is not to damage or inflict harm but to give you an occasion to demonstrate your strength, especially based on a recently acquired insight. It can also be to instruct. Consider that you are in a school of the spirit and your progress MUST be demonstrated and documented, not to God who knows all but to yourself and those watching.
1 Timothy 4:15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy PROFITING may APPEAR to all.
Not all the situations are considered pleasant but those who are in that particular walk with God are not afraid or disturbed. It is usually those of us on the outside looking in that are puzzled. Invariably, a major blessing is recorded after such an examination is cleared.
Hebrews 11:17-19. By faith Abraham, when he was TRIED, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten [son], Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: ACCOUNTING THAT GOD [was] able to raise [him] up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.
John 6:5-6. When Jesus then lifted up [his] eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to PROVE HIM: for he himself knew what he would do.
Every time Jesus said, “O ye of little faith”, it was because a test cane and the people failed.
The problem with all these concepts is that the same Greek words (Peirazo amongst others), are used for all of them or such words that their meanings overlap and interlock and in most cases, it is the context that the holy spirit uses to give the insight. The clear exception to the above statement is the one used in Acts 12:1 translated as “vex”.
The interesting thing is, whether it be a temptation, trial, or whatever, God sees and seizes the opportunity to instruct, build and strengthen… if we allow Him. This He did with Jairus’ daughters death, and with Lazarus’ death. He seized the situations and turned them to God’s glory. Hence, the scriptures cannot be broken… Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
This, perhaps, is the reason for the confusion.
As we used to say those days, everything is medicinal, including the devil.
Q: Thanks a lot.
I’m wondering Why you asked the question in the first place? As a man of you calibre, I expect you know these things already.
Q: Hahahaha!!! There is always room to share thoughts with the brethren.
A: So YOUR reason for asking was to share with us?
Q: Secondly, it is a topic/question which came up in some quarters yesterday morning, with quite some divergent positions reflected by those who answered. I actually was the one who raised the question. It was so interesting to see how much it stirred our minds to look again at the scriptures. I thought of us on this platform also partaking in the blessing. So, I asked.
A: Then, I should have just kept quiet and waited for you to share.
Q: As touching the direction, couldn’t trials be possible coming from the Lord, though not carried out by Him?
A: Trials (trouble) are ONLY allowed by God. Unless by trials, you refer to what I called tests.
Q: Alright. I really appreciate the detailed analysis.