Testing and Tribulation (Part 4)
In the years I’ve spent in the charismatic movement, I’ve found out that most of those churches are mainly aimed at breaking curses and deliverance of evil spirits. When things are going wrong or when we are facing hard and difficult times in our lives, that is the solution many offer. According to that theory a (wo)man is free when everything is going well and when we no longer face setbacks. When we do face setbacks, most of those churches are starting to search for curses or demons again. I’m not saying that this is what Derek Prince taught, but it is how many interpret it. Just to be clear, it sure is possible that we need to break a curse or need deliverance, I’m just saying that’s not the only reason why things can go wrong. At the other hand we have the more traditional churches. Here I have mainly heard that setbacks are a part of the Christian life and that we should adjust to the circumstances. But I rarely hear about the testing process, which is such a huge part of our spiritual growth. Because so few people know about this divine process, many lose hope and eventually give up, because they don’t understand what is happening and why.
In the first three parts of this study I have pointed out that growing to spiritual maturity has everything to do with the change of our heart. All things that aren’t coming forth from a changed heart are dead works of religion. It is because our heart changes that we start to produce the good works. In other words, it is not about doing good works, the good works are a fruit of the process that is happening our hearts. Yes it is possible to do good works out of our own strength, but the only thing that does is making us very tired. We can do it with the best intentions, but everything we do out of our own strength doesn’t carry the anointing of God and will eventually go down. Only that which is founded on the rock shall last. As we all know, it is Jesus Christ Who is the rock.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The thing about our heart is that we aren’t able to change it ourselves. So there is nothing we can do to make our heart pleasing to God. However, God handed us the one thing that is able to do just that: His Word. Only the Word of God has the power to change us from the inside out. How does that work? Like I’ve mentioned in the former parts, God expects us not just to read the Word, but to understand it, to have insight and to have the wisdom to know how and when to use it. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus told us how we can gain all these things: By asking, by searching and by knocking. We have to set our heart on finding and receiving His full revelation of the Truth. When we are persistent in that, He will reveal His secrets to us.
Understanding the Word of God, having insight and wisdom, can come to us by the teachings of someone to whom God revealed it, or like I mentioned before, because God reveals it to us. At that point we are confronted with information and the first thing we need to do it to test if the word truly is from God and not an attempt to deceive us. God is never in conflict with His Own Words. That means that He will not tell you something that is in contrary to the Scripture. Until we find a confirmation of the information being true or false, we should do nothing else then just testing it, without any judgment. When we have that confirmation, we have only one choice left: to believe or not to believe. Remember, all it takes to break a lie is the Truth. At the moment we accept to believe the Truth, a divine process begins and God will start to test us.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Who led Jesus into the wilderness? The Holy Spirit. Why did He do that? To be tempted by the devil. What was the test? His knowledge, insight and wisdom of the Word of God. Now why would God allow the devil to test Jesus? Because He knew that Jesus was ready for it. He knew that Jesus had all the keys to overcome satan. But the value of faith only comes through testing and tribulations. How did Jesus overcome? Every answer He gave contained these three words: “It is written”. He not only had the knowledge of the Word of God, He had the insight and wisdom as well. In this case that turned out to be very necessary, because otherwise He would have been fooled by the devil. But Jesus was ready. He had all He needed to withstand the temptation and to succeed the test.
that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:7
Not many people realize this, and this may be the only time you hear it in your life, but when God gives you a promise, be it through a teaching, prophecy or revelation, the situation often goes in the complete opposite direction first. All natural circumstances often go in a direction where it seems impossible to happen. Many of you have received promises from God regarding your life and/or ministry. Promises that did not yet came to pass. Promises that some are waiting for for years. Maybe even promises that you gave up on or that are coming back to your memory as you’re reading this. Why did everything go in the opposite direction? Why is that still happening? Why did these promises not came to pass yet? Because your faith is being tested by fire. All circumstances are changed in a way that only leaves you with the promise that God gave you. Everything fell or falls apart until that point, the point where we have to decide if we hold on to His promise or give up. That will determine the genuineness of your faith, like Peter said. That is what will add value to your faith.
A student is not above his Master. If Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, to be tested by the devil, so will we be tested as well. And as Jesus received all the keys to get out of that situation, so God will also only allow situations to happen in our lives when we have the keys to get out. And if Jesus was able to overcome, so are you! And what if you gave up somewhere down the road? Simple. Then you now have the choice to stand up again. His promises are not going away because we give up. If God makes a promise, it is a done fact. There is nothing you can do to make that promise go away. There is only one thing preventing you from receiving that promise, and that is giving up. That is not an action from God’s side, but from our side.
One of the strongest weapons satan is using against us is to make us doubt God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness. And I am standing up against that lie by telling you that God’s Word is YES and AMEN. By telling you that He is faithful. By telling you that He is trustworthy. And the beautiful thing about this all? That is that His faithfulness and trustworthiness do not depend on our faithfulness and trustworthiness towards God. God does not use us as His standard. He uses His Own standard. And that means that His promises will remain standing until we are able to receive them.
Now why would God test our faith by fire? What’s the use? He is God, so He can search our hearts to see if anything there is real or not. However, the fire is not just to test our faith. It is also meant to cleanse us from all other things. In fact it makes it even easier for us, because we have no other option left then the promise of God or to give up. That doesn’t sound easier, but let me tell you that the hardest test we can face are not setbacks. It is success which is that most difficult test of all. If we fail during setbacks, we will definitely fail during success. But if we succeed during setbacks, we have a good chance to succeed the test during our successes.
We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
The beautiful thing about the cleansing process of gold is that gold is cleansed by fire as well. It is put into the fire and heated at the highest possible temperature, until it becomes liquid. It is that point that all the dirt and everything that isn’t gold starts to float to the top. It is at that point that the goldsmith can start to skim off all the dirt. During this process he will look into the gold, to see if there’s more dirt left. He knows he’s ready when he can see a clear image of himself in the gold. The same process applies to us as well. Jesus knows He’s ready with you when He can see a clear image of Himself in your life and heart. That is the aim, the ultimate goal. Like Paul said in Romans, we can glorify in tribulations, even though it can hurt a lot. But we can be joyful because we know that tribulation produces perseverance. Out of that perseverance comes character. And finally, from that character comes hope. And that is the kind of hope that will never disappoint.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with age, and everything to do with our willingness to learn the lessons. Every lesson will keep continuing, until we have learned the lesson. Only when we’ve learned the lesson, we will grow further to the next level, where a next lesson is waiting for us. God wants to teach you in everything. He deals with every part of your thoughts and of your being, one by one, to make each and every part look just like Jesus. So you had a hard time? Or maybe you’re in a hard time right now? God isn’t finished with you yet. He did not give up on you. He did not give up on His promised for your life and/or ministry. He will remain being faithful to you, no matter what. And He sure can be trusted. Once again, I want to encourage you to continue path with the Lord. He truly love you, all the way, all the time. And He will never ever leave your side. Especially not when it becomes hard.
I don’t know to who this applies, but I want to emphasize that God will keep every promise that was spoken over your life. Even if the promise was given to you years ago and nothing happened in between. Yes, our feeling, our emotions, can be locked in so many ways. Disappointments may have kept you down. But you will succeed on every area where God said you will succeed. Don’t allow the enemy to make you doubt God’s faithfulness or trustworthiness. Today the choice is yours. Will you join us in this final prayer in this series? Maybe you can’t pray this prayer based on your feelings. Maybe the disappointments became too big in your life. But you can choose to pray this prayer with your will, regardless of your emotions. If you set your heart on it and focus on Jesus (again), then He will deal with your wounded heart and He will keep His promise to heal your heart and to comfort your grief.
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your precious blood. Thank You for the cross. Thank You for my salvation. Today I choose to believe You are faithful and trustworthy. Today I choose with my will that I will trust you completely from now on. My circumstances tell nothing about my future. They do not determine the path of my life. Your Word is my standard. It is You Who will determine the path of my life. And I will follow, even through pain, grief, setback or fire. I ask for the grace and favor to finish each and every test, until all You can see in me is You. I will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of my testimony. In the mighty name of Jesus Christ!