Monday, October 30, 2006

trials and temptation

We were reading James 1 at work this morning which got us talking about Trials and Temptations. So here are some of my thoughts:

Firstly, in James 1 it says that 'When tempted no one should say that "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; sin when it is full-grown, give birth to death' James 1:13-15

In the bible the words tempt, tempting and temptation are only mentioned approximately 13 times and all but about 6 of those times are in the gospels. I so did not know this and neither did the girls in the office, we were quite surprised. So I looked at the times when the words are mentioned:

Satan tempts Jesus for 40 days in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13

It talks about people who want to get rich falling into temptation in 1 Timothy 6:6-10

As husband and wife it says 'Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.' 1 Corinthians 7:5

When the disciples and Jesus are in the garden of Gethsemane he tells his disciples to 'watch and pray' so they don't fall into temptation in Matthew 26:41, Mark 14:38 and Luke 22:46

1 Corinthians 10:13 says that 'No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.'

What a comfort it is to know that our God will never let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. He will not tempt us BUT he may allow us to go through trials and suffering which we are called to 'consider pure joy' James 1:2, as these trials develops perseverance and 'perseverance must finish it's work so they we can be complete, not lacking anything' James 1:3-4

I don't know about you but I often find it hard to 'consider it pure joy' when I am facing trials but that is what I am called to do whether it is hard or not. God wants us to 'not lack anything', he always wants what is best for us and more often than not I think I know what is best for me but actually it is God who knows me better than I know myself - he does know what is best!

Romans 5:1-9 also talks about suffering and how we are too 'rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.'

Today I was also reading part of Chosen by God (again!) RC Sproul discusses Calvinism and Hyper Calvinism (or as RC Sproul says) "anti-Calvinism" he presents the two views:

"The Reformed view teaches that God positively or actively intervenes in the lives of the elect to insure their salvation. The rest of mankind God leaves to themselves. He does not create disbelief in their hearts. That unbelief is already there. He does not coerce them to sin. They sin by their own choices."

Hyper-Calvinism states that God is involved in the coercing people into sin. and this does radical violence to the integrity of God's character."


The biggest example of this might be Pharaoh. Exodus 7:2-5

"Active hardening would involve God's direct intervention within the inner chambers of Pharaoh's heart. God would intrude into Pharaoh's heart and create fresh evil in it. This would certainly insure that Pharaoh would bring forth the result that God was looking for. It would also insure that God is the author of sin.
Passive hardening is a totally different story. Passive hardening involves a diving judgement upon sin that is already present. All that God needs to do to harden the heart of a person whose heart is already desperately wicked is to "give him over to his sin."


So here I would agree that God passively hardens hearts. God did not actively make Pharaoh sin he just allowed him to continue and act according to his natural inclination, which is to sin. I find it astonishing that even though I am actually no better than Pharaoh God has chosen to bestow his mercy on me, not because I am better and not because of anything I have done or will do but because God is a God of grace and he has graciously sent his son to die for me.

I want to rejoice knowing that God loves us, wants the best for us and has shown his mercy upon us remembering that when we face trials and suffering he is still in control, he is still God and he is allowing us to go through these times so that we might not be lacking in anything!

Note: I also know that Job went through severe suffering but I was specifically looking at where the words 'temptation' come up in scripture, I am sure I could have spent a whole post on Job and his suffering.
I have not looked at temptation, suffering or trials in it's entirety these are just a few thoughts that I have had today :)

5 comments:

Ruth said...

Great post Nixter. I've never looked at those 'temptation' verses again. Given they are all so negative - and leading towards sin - I can see why James goes onto say: 13When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;

That clears that up for me very nicely. Thank you my friend. Tonight I prayed with my boys that God would do what is best for us - and we would happily submit to His will. Similar thoughts there - although I didn't specifically mention suffering....I was thinking it though!

Kazcanblog73 said...

LOL snap... God musta had us thinking along similar lines today :)

A very thoughtful post, thankyou

John Dekker said...

I've come across a few references to hypercalvinism lately while I've been cruising around blogs. I think I'll have to post on it myself soon.

Hyper-Calvinism states that God is involved in the coercing people into sin.

Does it? Do you know of any Hypercalvinists who say that?

I think Sproul is coming close to denying double predestination:

Active hardening would involve God's direct intervention within the inner chambers of Pharaoh's heart. God would intrude into Pharaoh's heart and create fresh evil in it.

I don't think the second statement necessarily follows the first. And even then, I don't think it makes God the author of sin.

Yes, Sproul is correct in suggesting that the Calvinistic view is balanced - but it's balanced by holding to both extremes, not by taking a middle road. God does it all AND man is totally responsible. God hardens Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh hardens his own heart.

Nixter said...

Would love to hear what you have to say John...

"God does it all AND man is totally responsible. God hardens Pharaoh's heart, and Pharaoh hardens his own heart."

Totally agree John :)

Ruth said...

Hey John, someone has been talking about that on my blog too - on a post about 1Tim2....would love your input there.