In our previous blog post, we have discussed the fundamental difference between trials and temptation. Out of which we gathered the following main points
1. Trials are from God, Temptation Are From Devil
2. Trials Are Meant To Benefit While Temptations Are Meant To Stumble
3. Trial produces faith and temptation destroys faith
We also went on to think about 2 question
1. Can Temptation Come In A Midst of a Trial?
2. Can Trials come in the midst of temptation? ?
This lead to the first concept that James teaches regarding trials and temptation.
Concept No 1 : The Importance Of Discerning Trials And Temptation
Let us learn to be submissive to God and be patient in a trial. But let us learn to resist and overcome our temptation. Since we now know the difference between the two, let us consider the first concept about facing trials and temptation.
“Let no one say when he is tempted,
“I am tempted by God”; for God
cannot be tempted by evil, nor does
He Himself tempt anyone. “ – James (Jas 1:13)
James here tells us the need to differentiate between trials and temptation. He tells us not to say things like, “I am tempted by God” for God does not tempt anyone, but yet we say that God can trial a person. But then are there any between trials and temptation?
Is it possible that In the midst of Gods trial, can the devil tempt a person?
The answer is yes Let us consider the incident in the garden of Eden.
The Trial And Temptation In The Garden Of Eden
Let us consider one example of a temptation happening in the midst of a trial.
“Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;
but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of
it you shall surely die.” – YHWH (Gen 2:16-17)
The story of the garden of Eden often clause many Christians to debate and question God. Why then did God make a forbidden tree laced with forbidden fruit? Why is it that God allow all the fruits to be good for food except for this one? Why did God call this tree tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
There are some Christian who thinks that the fruit of the tree will allow man to be like God who knows good and evil. They think that God did not allow Adam to eat it for he did not want Adam to know good and evil. But these people did not notice that those are the words of the devil.
“You will not surely die.
For God knows that in the day
you eat of it your eyes will be
opened, and you will be like God,
knowing good and evil.”- serpent (Gen 3:4-5)
Those were the words of the devil, he claims that God prevented them from eating it so that they cannot be like him. God wanted to prevent them from becoming like him. But that is what the devil said and is that really true?
Many of these people believed that it is true because of Gen 3:6. For “the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise,”
But is that a true statement? Perhaps it is true that the tree was good for food and was pleasant to the eyes. But it certainly did not make one wise. It was Eve who thinks that’s the fruit can make one wise. It was the perspective of Eve that was deceived by the devil.
Those words are not from God and God clearly said that if one were to eat of the fruit they will surely die. God warning is meant to protect lives but the devil twisted the explanation of God.
His point is “God is threatening you, he did not one you to eat it so that you can be like him to know good and evil.” Unfortunately Eve fell for the words of the devil and she allowed her perspective of God to change. That is why she thinks that the fruit could make one wise.
Those words of deception are the words of the devil. He used it as a method to tempt the victim so that they will doubt the love of God and interpret the words of God wrongly.
The Trial Of the Garden Of Eden
Therefore, let us not be deceived by the words of the devil and believe that Adam and Eve received the knowledge of Good and evil by eating from the tree. But yet this leaves us with another question “Why is the fruit forbidden?”
The tree is in fact a trial from God, he wanted to see if Adam and Eve will keep his commandment. God applied that same concept when he led the children of Israel in the wilderness .
“Every commandment which I command
you today you must be careful to observe,
that you may live and multiply, and go in
and possess the land of which the Lord swore
to your fathers. 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. “- Moses (Deut 8:1-2)
Moses told the people to keep the commandments given by the Lord. For they are good and they are meant to preserve life, in fact God trialled them to see if they will keep this commandment. God indeed test the people to see if they will keep his commandment.
When God gave a absolute command to Adam and Eve, they could freely eat from any of the trees in the garden, except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is the tree that could determine if one is good or evil.
If they believe in he words of God , they will not eat it, than they will be good in the eyes of god. For they regard the commands od God as good and they will keep them and be willing to remain on the side of God
On the other hand, if they ate of the fruit, then that means that they agree with the devil and they choose to listen to him. By eating the fruit, they are choosing to believe that God is not good, and God wanted to prevent them from becoming like him. This is evil.
he English bible called the tree “The Tree of the knowledge of good and evil” but the word of knowledge הדעת (H1847) . Can also means to know or to be aware. Therefore it is also fair to say that it is “A Tree That Can Discern Good And Evil”
The tree is able to tell if one is good from evil .If one do not eat the fruit from this tree, he is able to keep the commands of God. He will be good in the eyes of the Lord. But if one eats of it, he is evil, for he choose to disobey God.
That is the trial that God had given to Adam and Eve. While God is giving them the trial, the devil chooses to deceive them at the same time, as the result of that deception, Eve though that the devil is telling the truth, and that God gave the rule so that he could prevent them from becoming like him.
Are We Persuaded By God Or the Others?
I hope that by now we can see how the devil twisted the words of God and allow man to have a misconception. God commands are clear and direct, if we choose to believe in the words of God, we will choose to listen and we will not be swayed no matter what others say.
But if we choose to be persuaded by the words of others, we will doubt God, we will think that if what they say is true, than we would choose to disobey and we would rather die than to submit to the tyranny of God.
But actually the case for the garden of Eden is obvious. Assuming if its true that the fruit can make one wise and our God knew it, why then will he leave it there so that man can find it? Why even create the risk where his creation to become like him? That would have been silly and impossible.
The Result Of Disobeying God
Adam and Eve only knew that they had been deceived when they ate of the fruit. After eating, they did not know good and evil, nor were they like God? But in fact they can see their own evilness and they can see it plainly.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they knew that they were naked; and
they sewed fig leaves together and made
themselves coverings.” – Moses (Gen 3:7)
that is when they knew the concept of shame, they are ashamed because they knew the deed they did were shameful and it is something evil. Their conscience told them of their sin. They used to be naked and they are not ashamed (Gen 2:25)
But after eating the fruit, they started to know shame and they wanted to cover themselves, for they knew that had done evil.
Secondly when they heard the sound of God in the garden, they were afraid and they hid from the presence of God. They did something wrong and they were afraid that God knew about it.
That is when they realise they are deceived, and they knew that they are evil. But that regret came too late.
Let us learn to be diligent to keep the word of God. Let us believe in his words and not believe in the lies of the devil. Let us not listen to those who wanted to twist the words of God.
Can Trial Comes In the Midst Of Temptation?
What would we think when we ponder over the question above? Can God make use of a temptation to bring forth a trial? The Answer is yes we read it in Matt 4:1
“Then Jesus was led up by the
Spirit into the wilderness to be
tempted by the devil.” –Matthew (Matt 4:1)
We are often told to run away from temptation, it is a good way to avoid temptation no doubt. But here the Holy Spirit led Jesus to be tempted by the devil. Interestingly, the Holy Spirit did not bring Jesus away from this temptation, but yet we know that God does not tempt man. In fact God is using this as a opportunity to trial man.
Job is a good example as well, the devil wanted to tempt Job and God allowed it to happen. Why then will God allow it since he does not tempt anyone? Likewise God wanted to make use of that opportunity to start his trials for Job.
But yet there is one difficulty that most will find it hard to accept
So Do God And Devil Collaborate With Each Other?
Sometimes man will make use of their own intelligence and propose the idea that God and Devil are in fact working together. Then they think that in this case a temptation can be a trial and vice versa. Then they started to mock God claiming that he is cooperating with the devil.
But is this a correct view? James in fact gave a warning not to say that God is tempting them. But we cannot run away from the fact that God allowed the Devil to tempt Job and it appears as if they are working together.
This seem reasonable in mans mind, but James say that God will not be tempted by evil. God will not tempt anyone nor will he collaborate with the devil to tempt anyone. God simply allow the devil to carry out his temptation as he wanted.
God is in fact not collaborating with the devil, he wanted to work together with his people to overcome the temptation of the devil. God wanted to make use of the temptation from the devil to help make his children a more complete believer. He wanted them to mature in faith just like in the case of Job.
Concluding The First Concept
In the end we see God cooperating with Job, and God turn this temptation into a trial to allow Job to be more complete in his faith and more perfect in his character.
The first concept from James is an important concept which is why we are spending so much effort into looking at it. There is a need for us to differentiate between a trial and a temptation. We need to believe in Gods word and to endure in faith during the times of trial. But in temptation we need to rely on God to overcome it.
By doing so we can be victorious in faith and overcome all the difficultly in life. May God help us