Trial and Temptation - God's object in bringing us into them.

James 1.

H. C. Anstey.

Christian Friend, vol. 13, 1886, p. 149.

We try various things with the object of displaying either their badness or their goodness, and thus God works oftentimes with men. When God allows special trials to overtake natural men, it is to lead them to turn to Him in them, to teach them that "the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" (Daniel 4:17), and that He is able to abase him who walks in pride.

But trials of similar character to those found among the "children of this world" are found also among God's children. Oftentimes God's desire in thus dealing with them is to manifest to themselves the evil of their own natural hearts (but this is not always necessary); and what is always necessary and of far greater importance in God's sight is to make then, faith shine more brightly. This was the desired end in His dealings with His servant Job, though in the same trials Job also learnt deep lessons as to nature's (i.e., his own) vileness. (Job 42:5-6) God sees faith in His children: this He values, and the trial is a trial of faith. Thus God takes the distinct ground in our trials of helping us. This is in order that faith (which, it may be, He sees is so feeble) may be strengthened. I believe there is no exception, but that every trial of a Christian is a trial of faith. (1 Peter 1:7.)

It is evidently not always the desire of God to manifest to me (or to any one else) the evil that is in my nature - evil which always rebels against the trials He sends. For if I bow to the trials, and to the word of God, which tells me God is taking the ground of helping me in and by them, nature gets no place and no voice; that is, it is not displayed, though there.

These trials are called "chastenings" in Hebrews 12:5-8, and "purging" in John 15. In both we see that God is helping us - dealing with us as with sons. Chastening is either to prevent or to remedy our running into evil. First, it is by the word of God, which runs always counter to my will; and second, where this fails it is by trials of various kinds, for God seeks to keep me in a right path, and to prevent me from going wrong. Both of these are chastening, but neither is because of any wrong doing. Then chastening and trial are for something wrong done. Then they are remedial, not preventive. I believe God always chastens to prevent before He chastens to remedy. But to be without that, "of which all are partakers," would mark me as not of the family. If trials and chastenings to prevent my going wrong, as well as trials and chastenings to restore me when I have gone wrong, should both fail to effect this object, God may repeat them, or act in judgment. (1 Cor. 11:30-32; 1 John 5:16.) We have then to "count it all joy," according to this chapter 1, "when we fall into divers temptations." God sees in me something that He desires to help. Hence the trial, and hence also my joy. The trials are occasions of manifesting my faith, opportunities given to me to prove God in a way that I have not done previously. What is the meaning of verse 13? "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." I believe God's desire is by the trial to manifest the good that is in us; that is, to bring out that faith which He has given. (Eph. 2:8.) If the trial manifests only the evil that is in me (rebellion, or plans of my own to get out of the trial), I am drawn away by my own evil lusts. But this was not God's first object in sending the trial. He may see it necessary to show me out to myself; but even with the ungodly their trials are allowed, in order to turn them to God. (See Job 33:19-29; see also Psalm 107.) Trials test faith, or they stir up the evil (rebellion, etc.) that dwells in my nature. The one casts me on God, the other carries me farther and farther away from Him, as to the experience of my soul. I believe that it means that God never tries a man merely to expose the evil that is in him to the man himself, as if this were the end, the prime motive of the trial, though this may come out (as with Job), in order that we may see what we are. God has a higher object than this, even our blessing. In this way I understand Genesis 22:1. H. C. A.