There’s actually quite a difference between being tested and being tempted, even if it just doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, once you came to Christ and began to live out what it means to follow Him, your life became hassle-free and unencumbered? Imagine how easy evangelism would be if becoming a Christian always led to your mortgage turning into a paid-in-full title deed, every health issue being immediately healed, your marriage instantly becoming perfect in every way and your children turning into quiet and respectful A-students who found their greatest joy in doing chores around the house. “Yes folks, make your profession of faith and then pick up the keys to your new car and new house at the door on the way out.” If only.

The truth, of course, is nothing of the sort. Believers still face the same myriad of challenges that everyone else does. Except we don’t face them alone; we face them in the power of Christ with the counsel and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Does God wipe out large bills and heal impossible situations. Yes, actually, He does. Can I explain WHY, for example, the Lord chooses to heal a person in one situation and not in another? Nope, not so far.

As we consider temptations and tests this morning, here’s the verse we’ll use as our foundation point:

As Jesus followers walk out their faith, the enemy is constantly raising temptations to get them off track. Sometimes these temptations are ludicrous thoughts that attack your mind. I remember walking out of my bank one day as an armored truck pulled up in front. The guard hopped out of the back with a large canvas bag obviously filled with cash and headed inside. Instantly an entire plan to kill the guard, steal the cash and make a clean getaway popped into my mind. It was so ridiculous! I literally almost laughed out loud. It was an obvious attempt by the enemy, those sorts of things don’t just pop into your mind. It’s a trap.

But not every temptation the enemy attacks with is nearly as ludicrous. He knows our failures all too well, and which sins we are prone to commit. He is wise enough to lay his traps with bait that will actually appeal to our flesh.

Satan tempts us trying to bring out the worst in us. Public failures, witness-destroying sin, crippling addictions. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy. He hates you, he hates God; and he’s in a determined battle he intends to win.

God tests us to bring out the best. He doesn’t test us so that He can learn what our capacity is. He allows tests so that WE can learn what our capacity is. Similar to a body builder working out in a gym, we exercise our faith in order to strengthen it. God provides the tests we encounter in order to either DEVELOP greater strength or to DISPLAY that strength to us or others.

Developing greater strength allows us to become more useful in the call that God has on our lives. He provides His spiritual gifts, we are to engage them and use them to advance His Kingdom. As we do, we get better and better. Our strength and our skills develop. Our faith becomes stronger. God, who knows what strength and skills we will need in the days yet to come, allows us to develop and strengthen our faith.


Tests of our faith teach us that God can be trusted, even when the situation appears impossible. The victory of faith is found in the way we pass through the trials, regardless of the outcome.

Around 600 BC, a tyrant king named Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylon. He erected a 90-foot high golden statue and summoned all of his officials to the dedication ceremony. He ordered everyone to fall down and worship the statue when the music began to play. Anyone who refused would be executed by being thrown into a blazing furnace.

Three of his officials – Shad, Shack and Bennie – refused. They were Jewish prisoners who were serving in the king’s court. They had already committed their lives to the one true God, and their faith demanded they worship only Him. The king was less than impressed, and threw down the gauntlet to Shad, Shack and Bennie. He told them, “When the music plays, if you fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace.”

Then the king made his second big mistake. (His first big mistake had been creating his own god.) We don’t know what the outcome might have been if King Nebuchadnezzar had left his challenge with the three Jews. But instead the king decided to take on the Almighty God of the Universe. He finished his rant by issuing this challenge: “Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” And the battle was on!

Shad, Shack and Bennie didn’t mince words when they replied to the king. Let me give you the “Bishop Robert Version” of the reply you can read for yourself that begins in Daniel 3:16.

“Nebuchadnezzar, we’re not even going to answer your threat! You want to know what ‘god’ will be able to rescue someone from your hand? OURS !!!! We already gave Him our ‘Yes’ – so that leaves you with our ‘No!’ And, by the way, even if He DOESN’T choose to deliver us, King, we’re NOT serving your “gods” and we’re NOT bowing down to worship them. Your move.”

The king was so furious with their reply he ordered the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal. Then he had Shad, Shack and Bennie bound hand and foot and ordered them to be thrown in the super-heated furnace. The fire was so intense that it actually killed the soldiers who were throwing the three faith warriors in.

Well, the king had asked, “What god will be able to rescue you from my hand?” He got his answer. As he looked into the fire, someone else could clearly be seen walking freely in the furnace with Shad, Shack and Bennie. They were not bound. They were not burning. They were probably not even sweating!

King Nebuchadnezzar recognized the powerful hand of God – the REAL GOD, not the 90-foot wonder he had erected. He called the lads out of the furnace, apologized, promoted them, and made it illegal to speak a single word against the God who had delivered them.


Those who want to win the world to Christ must have the courage to come into conflict with it. Don’t expect the world to abandon evil and sin until they see strong people standing for their faith.

We have to say “I will not bow,” even in the midst of pain and suffering.
We have to say “I will not bow” and determine to believe in the promises of God even when everything looks impossible.
We have to say “I will not bow,” even if He chooses NOT deliver us, before we know what His decision will be.
We have to say “I will not bow,” even when we do not understand His ways and working in our lives and the lives of those we love.

Satan tempts us in order to bring out the worst in us; God tests us to bring out the best.

It is the tested faith that can be trusted to endure.

It’s your move.


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