Are you or someone you know going through a difficult time? Perhaps it’s cancer, the loss of a relationship, or a wayward child. Regardless of the type of hurt, pain, or struggles, we all experience difficulties in this life. So if you’re not in one now, you will be at some point.
All of us have to endure broken world experiences full of adversity and pain because we live in a fallen world. And these experiences can either be external – difficulties that happen to us beyond our control, or they can be internal – difficulties that arise out of our own desires. The Bible calls these internal difficulties or trials, “temptations.”
Temptations are opportunities for us to make decisions and take actions that have the ability to destroy our life. We have the choice to resist and persevere through them, or we can give into them.
In the Bible, the word for “trial” is also the same word as “temptation.” Many of us experience trials that are actually temptations, or the consequences of us giving into the temptations. How can we know the difference? Context.
I like to think of it this way: a trial is what God wants you to grow through. A temptation is what the enemy wants you to fall through.
Many times when we’re having a broken world experience, the enemy will take a trial that God designed for us to grow through and he will make it a temptation to destroy our life and the people around us.
So how do we overcome the temptations that Satan wants to use to destroy us? We must be alert to the enemy’s schemes to deceive us.
Imagine driving on a windy mountain road that’s prone to rock slides. If we are not aware of the hazards around us, then we’re at risk of getting into an accident or driving off the side of the road. In a similar way, we need to be aware of the “falling rocks” – or deceptions – that the enemy will use to ensnare us when we’re going through life’s external trials.
No one ever ends up in the spiritual ditch or relational ditch overnight. It’s a subtle, deceptive process. That means we don’t see it and may not even know it’s happening. We might even be convinced that nothing is wrong, so we ignore the warning signs.
We’re mainly deceived about the source of our sin. Often when we are in a trial, we blame God for the cause of our difficult circumstances. But we can trust that God Himself will never tempt us.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. (James 1:13-16)
The truth is God tempts no one. The problem is not our external circumstances but our internal desires – our longing and our passions. When we’re going through something particularly difficult or stressful and we’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired, we’re especially vulnerable to temptation and deception. Under pressure, we are tempted to abandon God’s character-building program of endurance and give into the temptations.
God gave us legitimate desires for food, sex, security and significance, but Satan takes these and tries to give us a good thing in a bad way or in the wrong timing. So we often opt for the “shortcuts” that promise immediate relief yet also have devastating consequences. At the heart of temptation, we believe the lie: “God doesn’t have my best in mind.”
But the truth is: God is good and He will always have our highest and best interests in mind. We can trust what God says about Himself in His Word, which says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (v. 17)
This week, we’re beginning the series, Rebuilding Your Broken World. In it, we’ll learn how to rebuild our broken and fallen world by redefining how we view God and life’s trials. It’s my prayer that as we go through this study in James 1, together we’ll find healing and restoration in our broken relationships and difficult circumstances.
Keep Pressin’ Ahead,
Chip Ingram, Teaching Pastor
Living on the Edge
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip