God’s Testing vs Satan’s Trial

Episode 51

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Hosted by
Carl Joseph

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

There’s a vast difference between God’s testing process and the various trials Satan sends our way. Not every set back we encounter is ‘from the devil.’ God can and does test us on occasion. This is a scriptural concept, that you need to get a hold of. God’s testing reveals what’s in our heart and provides opportunities for advancement in His kingdom. Satan’s trials, however, are an offshoot of persecution for Christ, which comes with the territory of being a believer. Because we live in a cursed earth, which is subject to evil, accidents and untimely events may also occur. Join Carl now, as he sheds light on the source of what ails you and the protection God provides…

Here is a complete transcript of the podcast…(below)

Friend, I want to talk to you today about testing, and that’s specifically testing from God. Did you know that God does test us and it’s scriptural for Him to do so? There is a tendency for some Christians to think that every kind of opposition in their life is from the devil, when in fact it could be the Lord refining, chastising or correcting character issues that need to be addressed in our lives. Not every opposition is a work of the devil friend, yes, we need to be cognizant of our enemy’s schemes and devices definitely but we’re also in process of being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ whilst we sojourn on this earth. Friend, we need to know the difference between God’s testing and Satan’s trials or sifting. We must be scripturally balanced and also need to realize that after we are born again and saved by faith in Christ, we automatically enter into the process of sanctification, whereby God purges away our old habits and ways, so that we can experience more freedom in Christ and finally break habitual sin in our lives. Because our God loves us so much, He won’t leave us in our condition. What I mean by that, is that God never stops chipping off those old habits and ways that still follow us around after we come to him, this is a transformation that God the Father initiated and is vested in, namely being transformed into the image of Jesus. This is a work within our soul, after we are born again, and this process of sanctification takes our cooperation.

Now as I said, according to scripture, this concept of ‘testing’ most assuredly comes from God, not the devil. Our testing from God is to reveal what’s in our hearts, but its contents come as no surprise to Him. The rhetorical question of, “Adam where are you?” (Gen 3:9), is a classic example of this, as the question was for Adam’s sake not God’s. More precisely God’s question was aimed at Adam’s spiritual condition in relation to God the Father, and He asks us the same question today. God is asking you friend, where are you? In relation to the Father? Are you in love with Him as much today, as the first day you met, or have wounds, hurts and disappointments got in the way of your relationship? It’s time to run into His arms friend. The Scripture states that God left Hezekiah, “to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chron 32:31). However, any testing from God is never to be confused with temptation, as God tempts no man (Jam 1:13). Testing from the Lord is to reveal what is in our heart for promotional purposes and for the benefit of character refinement, even if we fail the test. God will allow stressful circumstances to see if we remain loyal to Him throughout, whilst simultaneously allowing further opportunities for character refinement. This character refinement is spoken of in the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah and in other scriptures (Ps 12:6, Isa 1:25, Ps 17:3, Ps 105:19, Mal 3:2-3, Jer 6:29-30). In the case of Gideon, the men were sifted at the water for God’s purposes without them even knowing it. That’s how God can test us sometimes, without our knowledge of Him doing so. Let’s read (Jug 7:4-8):

And the Lord said unto Gideon, the people are yet too many; bring them down unto the             water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, this shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, this shall not go with thee, the same shall not go. So he brought down the people unto the water: and the Lord said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink. And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. 7And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place.”

The word ‘try‘ in the Hebrew is tsaw-raf´; which means, ‘to fuse (metal), i.e., refine, melt or purge away.’ Gideon’s men were separated according to God and by His standards, not by Gideon or his generals, and God’s methods may appear strange to us at times. This reveals God can observe us, without us being aware of it but his testing is to see if we’re ready or not for the next phase of what He has planned for us. God chose the soldiers by His standards and the small character trait of sipping water from a river the more gentlemanly way instead of like a God, was something He was concerned about, why? because these men were to represent God on the battlefield. Friend, you too represent God on the battlefield of life as a Christian soldier and he is concerned about your character also.

The refinement process of conforming our character to God’s image is mentioned elsewhere in scripture (Ps 66:10), where it discusses the Lord who tries us as ‘silver.’ In the refinement process, silver is refined up to seven times, removing all the dross or impurities, until the silversmith’s reflection is seen in the silver, only then is it ready for display (Ps 12:6). Just as we need to see our reflection in God’s mirror (or His word), so the silversmith seeks his reflection in the silver, to ascertain our readiness for use. Silver is a good analogy for our refinement, as it’s more precious, softer, pliable and more malleable than most other metals, just as we need to be receptive to God’s corrective hand in our lives, like silver, and are precious in His sight. God further expounds on His comparison of man to silver, by labeling His prophet, Jeremiah as the ‘tester’, in Jeremiah (6:27-30) NASB:

“I have made you an assayer and a tester among My people, that you may know and assay their way.” 28 All of them are stubbornly rebellious, Going about as a talebearer. They are bronze and iron; They, all of them, are corrupt. 29 The bellows blow fiercely, the lead is consumed by the fire; In vain the refining goes on, But the wicked are not separated.30 They call them rejected silver, Because the LORD has rejected them.”

In this passage, Jeremiah is described as an ‘assayer‘ and ‘tester‘ where God’s people are likened to ‘bronze‘ and ‘iron,’ representing their corruption and lack of refinement. To ‘assay,’ means “to examine and determine its characteristics. It’s an analysis to determine the presence, absence or quantity of one or more components.” God’s testing process is therefore, to determine what is or isn’t lacking in our character and position us for the supernatural fulfillment of what He has planned for us. God’s testing is a positive thing and not to be confused with the negative aspects of Satan’s trials or temptations, which only serve to harm us. God utilizes this testing process to prove whether or not we qualify for next step of our destiny because God will never give us more than we can handle or test us beyond what we can bear. But most importantly we need the character it takes for what He has in store for us.

The word ‘assayer’ in this passage; is a technical term used of someone who tests precious metals by the process of smelting. The word is not found elsewhere in the Old Testament. We might then translate the whole verse like this:“I(God) have placed you (Jeremiah) among my people, in order that you might put them to the test as a person tests metal. I have placed you there as a fortress, and you are to examine my people and put them to the test.”

Clearly God examines His people in many ways and uses His ministerial offices to carry out this testing also. Several scriptural passages in the Bible prove it’s God’s will to test us throughout our lifetime’. In this passage it was God’s desire for His people to come out from among the idolaters of the day and separate themselves from people who were corrupting them by association. If the wicked were not separated from the God’s people then the refining process had failed. Another test God is offering today friend, is have you separated yourself from some people who you know are not a positive influence in your life.  Remember bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor 15:33). Another example of the smelting analogy can be found in the book of Zechariah, (Zech 13:9 – NLT)., “I will bring that group through the fire and make them pure. I will refine them like silver and purify them like gold. They will call on my name, and I the Lord will answer them. I will say, ‘These are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God’” Notice in this passage the endgame of the refinement is; that His people will call upon Him and admit He is God; this is all He desires friend! In this example, God is the furnace and His breath is the bellows, which is harnessed to attain a closer relationship with Him and cause us to submit to His Lordship.

It should be pointed out that the ‘sifting,’ the Apostle Peter underwent was not from God but from Satan (Lk 22:31). Remember Jesus warning to Peter, “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” As the farmer sifts the wheat with his winnowing fork, to separate the wheat from the chaff, so Satan desired to literally ‘shake Peter back and forth,’ to reveal weaknesses in his character, and it’s the same for us. Peter’s heart unfortunately was exposed in his denial of Christ, showing some cowardice and betrayal, yet he was transformed at the day of Pentecost, when he became Spirit filled. From that day forth, Peter was a different man, and his great exploits were documented in the book of Acts. This is further testimony of God’s transformative powers when we are endued with His power from on high and this should not be overlooked (Acts 1:8). Satan’s intention in this ‘sifting’ was to condemn, slander, accuse and shame Peter. Therefore, God tests us for promotional purposes and to assist in our character refinement, but Satan in sharp contrast will condemn, slander, accuse and shame us. Do not get the two confused my friend. Satan’s trials are in complete contrast to God’s testing which gently reveals the weaknesses in our heart for correction. God seeks to conform us further to Christ’s character via conviction, prompting, and leading but never condemnation. God’s testing is in juxtaposition to Satan’s ‘sifting’ and they’re diametrically opposed from one another. We must realize this.

Perhaps the endgame of all testing can be surmised in one passage and highlights the character trait that God holds in the highest esteem, namely integrity: –I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart, and hast pleasure in uprightness,” (KJV -1 Chr 29:17) and “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity” (NIV – 1 Chr 29:17). Friend, God’s ‘acid test,’ always comes back to the integrity of our heart and our dealings with Him and other people. If ever anyone passed this test with ‘flying colors,’ it was Joseph in the book of Genesis. The truth is friend, deep within us is a vision that God has given us to complete in our lifetime. It’s during the times when the vision seems forgotten or we’re discouraged by our lack of progress, that Satan will send his trials or sifting to discourage us or ‘suggest’ possible alternatives to God’s perfect will, which often appear easier to us. But if we give in to these shortcuts, we could delay or even forfeit God’s plan altogether or at the very least cause ourselves great distress by being outside of God’s timing. It’s this ‘sifting’ (Luk 22:31), that can derail God’s plan in our lives if we are not prudent to listen to the Spirit of God in these times trying times.

Remember the Bible says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, But the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov 14:12). We need to be careful in the times of God’s testing, not to take a shortcut that might look right to our own eyes, like giving birth to another Ishmael. The Lord leads us gently by His Spirit; He does not drive us to take action, but evil spirits do seek to ‘force,’ ‘drive’ and ‘compel’ us to do things and we must understand the difference.  So, let me ask you friend, who or what is driving you? It takes discipline to see God’s vision through in our lives. Make sure you are acting with integrity in your choices today and in the coming weeks and you will pass the Lord’s test each and every time.

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