The Christian response through trials and temptations

The Christian response during trials and temptations 

 

James 1:2-4 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Introduction

The epistle James is the “how-to” book of the Christian life. It is one of the most practical books in the New Testament because it offers instruction and exhortation to Christians who are experiencing problems, as all of us do. As if the trials and temptations were not bad enough, James points out the dangers that come with the trials. Your own desires will tempt you to sin and the devil will see the opportunity to strike, make it worse and turn the trial that God meant for good (to purify your faith) to a great temptation and make you to fail and sin against God. Like the author of a “how-to” book, James explains in a few words the responsibilities of a Christian, while supplying apt illustrations from real-life

in this passage James encourages us by telling us how true believers will profit from trials if they endure and resist the temptation and respond how we as Christians are supposed to and why they/we can be confident in such tribulations. Now how is this relevant to us? What is the relevance of these pages to my life and how does this relate to me in my personal experience working, 9-5, and 6 days a week.  We want to consider and look at how this is relevant and practical in our active life.

–         How are we as Christians supposed to respond during trials – how should we cope and deal with these trials

–         How are we as Christians to view and understand trials, why do we have to go through these trials, is there any purpose in it all, aren’t we supposed just to be happy. I mean I am a child of God now

–         And then what is the association that Christians have with God in trials, there must be a connection between God and man, why these sufferings? What is the connection? Does these suffering and trials we have any connection to Jesus?

1.    The Christians behaviour during trials

KJV James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds

The KJV use the word temptations and it is Important to note that James 1:2 is about temptations and not suffering and tribulation. Suffering makes us weak – why?  so that God’s power can be seen in and through us.

 2 Corinthians 12:10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

We will be tempted and this by our own desires and by the tempter himself, we cannot escape this, this is unavoidable – trials, temptations, suffering and great affliction is imminent – it will happen, just the when, how, where and why will vary, but be assured that God is not the author of our temptations but He does allow it. God is sovereign and always in control and He knows why he decreed this. Then Why would the question be, why would God allow this, why would God test us, what is the purpose of these trials and then what about temptations? God, does not tempt anyone! And how are we to handle these trials then, if there is a purpose there must be an outcome, James answers all these questions perfectly.

Why these trials – lets look at an analogy:

The water test: is to make sure that a diamond is real and not an imitation (fake), especially for the untrained eye, so you put the diamond in water, the result: the genuine diamond will sparkle very preciously while the fake will be undetectable, disappearing from your eyes.

This is a good analogy for describing the reason for trials, God drops us in the water of adversary and test our faith, if you are a true believer you will sparkle through these waters of afflictions while the temporary Christian will fall away, not be able to endure the test and will be consumed by these waters as if they did not exist and they will not glitter like a true diamond, let me be clear, they will not obey God in these trials and they will not shine through afflictions and will be discovered as an unliberated Christian like Judas the traitor

But firstly, lets define trials: trials are of outward circumstances – conflicts and sufferings, of all kinds (like James said – various kinds, a nice variety, it will not be a dull and boring life for sure) of troubles encountered by believers. And like most of us know, trials are not pleasant at all and it may be extremely grievous. James dives directly into the answer, count it all joy when…not later or if but when fall in trials… we as believers should consider them to be opportunities for rejoicing.

 Troubles and afflictions are a tool which refines and purifies our faith, resulting in endured patience and producing steadfastness. These temptations are to be withstood and if we overcome them we will grow stronger by His grace in faith.

How are we to react and how are we to handle these trials, how are we to respond as Christians and children of God? especially in trials that breaks us in pieces and makes us so miserable that we want to fall down on our knees and in pure desperation just cry out in anguish asking – “God why me” and or “God I cannot go on like this – I am totally broken- I can’t take this anymore” – how am I going to endure this? Is it wrong to feel not keen and indifferent? Are you Overwhelmed by all these feeling, and are you ready to just give up and sit down, unable to go on or how about to just run away, run away far from all these troubles?

We would rather except James to say that this is only a temporary setback, or to endure these hardships through the Grace of God, but to count it all Joy? No way, we would have never guessed he would say that!! He did not say it will be easy, nor did he say that trials are pure joy, he knew the hardships so he wrote this letter to encourage the Christians and this includes us! in these trials we must respond in Joy. what? We must be happy?? We are not supposed to pretend that we enjoy going through trials. He is not saying that we must go to the mall or the funeral with a cheesy grin on our faces and pretend like this is the best thing that has ever happened to us and we are so excited that it is to die for, that would be unnatural, trials are difficult, hard and heartbreaking.

but James meant, the kind of Joy which says I know, I know my God and I trust in the Lord my Saviour and like Paul wrote for the sake of Christ I am content with persecutions etc. in Corinthians. We are partakers in Christ sufferings and our trials are precisely that, our trials are not because of us, these trials we endure is because of Jesus, and what He did for us on the cross, its about testing our faith and our trust in Him. Jesus is hated by the world and we as His followers will be hated too and this must not be surprising that the world will hate us a swell and that we will enter trials for His names sake.

The Christians understanding of trials

James 1:3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

The Greek word here James is using is ginw,skw (ginosko), meaning to perceive and to know, that personal experience that personal knowledge, knowing God and that he is working in your life and purifies your faith! What is this that we have to know? We need to know that these trials, these testing of your faith will produce endurance and produce blessings and James in 1v12 says that “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.”

and this is what it will be the end product – eternal life which God promised

The time of hardship and suffering is an opportunity that you can seek God, get closer to Him, hold on, endure, trust in Him and glorify God’s name. this will be a significant testimony for those unbelievers who doubt in God!! People will reason within themselves, this Christian is suffering but still has this joy and it is obvious that he is not faking it and that I do not understand – you will be a city on a hill like Jesus stated and you will not able to hide your joy and you will attract sinners to you because they will want to have what you have. You will be a great blessing and witness to God – you won’t notice this because you are going through this unpleasant time.

These trials do not only purify our faith but it also distinguishes the goats from the sheep, the religious Christians and the true Christians. The religious person or unborn Christian do respond quite differently. Some of them will accuse God and that He is at fault, putting them in these circumstances and they will be driven away from God and not running towards Him, they might even hate Him more than they are doing already. Some may still keep their Christian mask on for a while and even endure trials that we may fail at times – but their behaviour will differ from true believers even though some look like the real deal. But we must be very careful to just discern who is a sheep and who is not because even true believers can fall in great temptations – look at king David with Bathsheba. This is where we profit from trials where unbelievers do not, we will sparkle like diamonds and our faith will be purified where the unbeliever will not be able to resist the temptation and sin

James here is confirming why we should respond with joy and endure the trials. This is because we have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, we have received knowledge from God, we have understanding which God gave us through faith by grace and we trust in Him completely. The word “testing of your faith” (doki,mion dokimion)

Occurs only here and in 1 Peter 1:7. The term, which means “tested” or “approved, “this was used for coins that were genuine and not debased. These coins have been tested and have been approved as genuine – it stood the test! The aim of testing is not to destroy or afflict, but to purge and refine. It is essential to Christian maturity, for even Abraham’s faith had to be tested (Gen. 22:1-8) its supposed to drive you closer to God

ESV 1 Peter 1:7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

This is why our faith is tested. It is to purify us, get us closer to God, so that we can trust in God more and not in ourselves. Our faith is not just tested for the value of testing, but like I mentioned earlier it is to separate the goats from the sheep as well – these trials and temptations will show you how real and how genuine you are in other words it will reflect the inner chambers of your heart and you will see who you really and truly are.

And all the religious Christians will be shown as to be debased – lower in quality that is they won’t be approved, they won’t stand the test of time and likewise us, that is if we are without Christ we will not be approved as well.

But in the child of God this testing will result in praise and glory towards Christ. And he or she will give all the glory to Jesus Christ.

Our faith will produce steadfastness and patience – giving the idea of bearing our afflictions. Standing fast under pressure and giving us opportunity to give glory to Jesus.

The Christian association with God in trials

James 1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Let God do what He wants to do. Endurance has a perfect and complete effect –  and that is maturity, and without trials it is impossible to reach spiritual maturity. Tests brings us closer to God and make us realize that we have to rely more on Him and we have to yield to the process of trials so that we can get to adulthood

These temptations and trials that we so hate and totally despise has a very explicit purpose – to cleanse us, to get us approved and in short – to make us ready for the kingdom of God. We must let these trials take their toll and let God have His way with us, the faster we obey the less strain we might endure, but if we fight back and we want our own desire we may end up with trials and sufferings we did not bargain or signed up for. The more suffering Christians endure the stronger they will grow in faith. You will go through your hard trial and if you endure you will go through the next and usually harder one, but because of the previous trial it is easier to endure the current one and you will realize that by the grace of God you are stronger and you are able to go through the current one.

We must endure our trials and let it have its full effect. When the work of patience is complete we will be content. Wanting nothing but be satisfied with what the Lord has done.

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

And what did God promise us? Eternal life and fellowship with Him forever. We associate with Christ in these trials by taking part in them, we are afflicted and when we suffer for the sake of Christ His name will be glorified and your life will point to Jesus Christ your savior and because Satan hates Jesus he will try to make you deny your faith.

Gospel application/conclusion

We are living in a broken world we go through trials, not because of our own faults, but as James defines it, we fall into temptations, in other words it just happens. For instance, you wake up the one perfect morning. Sun is shining – perfect. And while having coffee, your phone rings, you answer it cheerfully but the news changes you perfect day upside down. Now how do you handle this?

James said that we as believers should count it all Joy because you know God. You have an intimate relationship with Him and you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance, it will make you stronger for the next trial, and with trials comes blessings and it will mature you spiritually, for without trials you will not grow in faith. And the connection trials have with faith. God has a purpose with trials. Making you mature and to make you realize that you are depended on Him. and so that you will long to be in His kingdom when you go through hardships. And that is the ultimate blessing stated in verse 12

 James 1:12 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.

We are blessed and we will have our reward, but not here, but very soon if we endure we will be heirs of the kingdom of heaven and that is where patience and steadfastness will be complete, where we will want and lack nothing

Matthew 5:10-12   10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I want to close with this analogy, when I think of trials I think of God and our relationship to Him. it is not good to just have it easy, if we have it too easy we as humans will rely more on ourselves than God. Trials are God’s way of reminding us that we are depending on Him and that all our blessings come from Him. it is the only way we can mature as Christians and de found genuine and not debased like that coin.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Rosemarie says:

    Can I call you “JJ”?
    I received an invite on LinkedIn – thank you, I accepted it. I know it is a divine connection; your Christian narrative is in season with how the world is poised right now.
    Just yesterday I said to a colleague who is going through a difficult time, that life is a paradox; we cannot wear the crown without the cross…..
    JJ be blessed and may God continue to grant you these powerful platforms to share The Message.
    I am totally inspired …
    Best wishes
    Rosemarie Lodewick
    PS. Please Freek free to book our Venue at Thaba Eco Hotel for your crusades/Conferencing. We will offer preferred rates.
    http://www.thabahotel.co.za

    Like

    1. Thanks. I am glad that it could encourage or inspire you. I appreciate it

      Like

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