17. Does God test us?



Yes, He does. In other words, He tests us in order to see whether we fear Him and keep His commandments or not. God acts like certain masters who test their bondservants to know whether they are reliable or not, faithful or unfaithful.

In the Scripture we find many examples of human beings who were tested by God.

The first example that comes to my mind is that of Abraham. Here is what we read in the book of Genesis: “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’ So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’ So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together. But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My Son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’ So he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son” (Genesis 22:1-13 – NKJV).

The second example if that of the Israelites after they came out of Egypt, as it is written: “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3 - NKJV).

The third example still concerns the Israelites, but after they entered the land of Canaan, as it is written: “Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formerly known it), namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath. And they were left, that He might test Israel by them, to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which He had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. Thus the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons; and they served their gods” (Judges 3:1-6 – NKJV).

The fourth example is that of king Hezekiah, as it is written: “However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31 - NKJV).

The fifth example is that of the angel of the church in Smyrna, as it is written: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 – NKJV), and the sixth example is that of Apelles about whom Paul says that he was tested and approved in Christ (Romans 16:10 – NIV).

Both Jesus and the apostles taught that it is normal for us Christians to be tested (or to face trials).

Jesus said about the seed that falls on the rock that it stands for those “who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away” (Luke 8:13 – NIV), Paul says to Timothy that if we persevere under trial we will also reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12), and James says: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 – NIV), and again: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12 – NIV), and Peter says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations [you have been grieved by various trials]: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3-7). Therefore we know not only that we will surely face trials during our life, but also that when we are tested by God we have to rejoice not only because the testing of our faith develops perseverance, but also because if we persevere under trial we will receive the crown of life and we will reign with Christ.

We suffer when we are tested, but we must rejoice in the Lord because in this way we partake of Christ’s sufferings (1 Peter 4:12-13). No matter what kind of trial God sends to us, He tests us for our good, because the thoughts that He thinks toward us are good thoughts and not evil thoughts, thoughts of peace and not of evil. God never tests us in order to harm us. God tests us in the furnace of affliction (Isaiah 48:10) to cleanse us from all those things we must get rid of because they don’t glorify His name. God tests us as gold is tested (Zechariah 13:9) to transform us into the image of Christ.

Therefore, when we are tested by God, let us not draw back but let us persevere under trial, holding fast to Him, and we will never regret our decision, rather we will glorify His holy name.

To Him, the righteous God who tests our heart and mind, be the glory now and forevermore. Amen.

Last but not the least, God tests us through false prophets. For in the law we read the following words: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ – which you have not known – ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4 - NKJV). Therefore, God uses also the false prophets (as well as the false teachers), who rise in the midst of the people of God, to test the saints by them to see whether they love Him with all their heart.

For instance, God can test us through a believer who has wandered from the truth and teaches that we must pray to Mary because she prays for us, and furthermore this man confirms his doctrine by signs and wonders. What must we do in this case? We must reject his message, even though it is confirmed by signs and wonders, because if we accept that message, it will turn us away from the Lord. And in addition to this, we must expel from among us that wicked person, for he claims to be a brother but is an idolater.

Obviously, God can test us also through some believers who teach that it is lawful for us to fornicate, to eat things offered to idols, to eat things strangled and blood, to get drunk, to steal and so on. Therefore, be very careful, and reject all those teachings which corrupt your good habits, which encourage you to defile yourselves, as well as all those teachings which deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, His humanity, His atoning sacrifice, His resurrection, His visible return from heaven, the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit, life after death, the resurrection from the dead, and so on; because God uses these teachings to test us by them, to know whether we love His Word.