By Don Martin
Beloved, I am convinced primarily as a result of a careful study of what the Bible teaches relative to trials and also from a secondary study of life that a basic design of man’s existence upon earth is that of trials, tests, and proving. The fact that God tries cannot be successfully refuted. “The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts,” wrote Solomon (Prov. 17:3). Please observe the psalmist’s declaration concerning the sovereign God who tries and proves his people:
He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard: which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved. For thou, O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a weary place (Psa. 66:7-12).
God allows Satan to tempt man and afflict man with hardships and deprivations (see book of Job and 2 Cor. 12:7-10). God assures us, however, that with the “temptations,” there is an attendant way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Peter opportunely mentioned to those to whom he wrote regarding the “heaviness through manifold temptations” which they were experiencing (1 Pet. 1:6), “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 honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7). Job’s trials were so prol’ita6le. Here Job explains: “But he knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
Trials determine the quality or lack of quality of our very fiber. Some say, “trials spiritually destroyed me!” Not so. The difficulties only manifest the material out of which we are made (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Hardships also purify and purge. As fire is to gold and silver (removing the dross), so are trials to the Christian (Prov. 17:3; Jas. 1:24). With this established, let us now consider some trying circumstances.
The Scriptures expressly forbid being like the world (1 Jn. 2:15). The Christian is to be transformed in body and mind; hence, unlike the world (Rom. 12:1,2). Notwithstanding all the numerous warnings against worldliness, not a few professing Christians are found engaging in conspicuous worldliness. Carnality such as drinking alcohol, using other con-. trolled substances, engaging in t he modern dance, gambling, immodest apparel, ad infinitum. James decidedly wrote, “the friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4).
Inconspicuous forms of worldliness are more deceiving and ensnaring to the Christian. For example, the Christian becomes a slave to the almighty dollar. He finds himself working twelve to fourteen hours a day just to make more money. His house is too small, not enough cars, too little in retirement – so he works more and more, neglecting his soul, his family, and other spiritual requirements. Brethren, I have been with too many who were breathing their last breath in despair and regret. Their regret was in knowing that they had wasted their lives in worshiping the god of materialism.
Now to the point: how do you measure up in the test of worldliness? Are you succumbing to the tantalizing attractions of the world or are you resisting?
On occasion, there will be problems in every local church. It is not necessarily the presence of problems which should concern the dedicated Christian, but how he scripturally addresses and deals with these problems.
The church at Corinth was spiritually divided (1 Cor. 1: 11; 3:3). It is evident from the language of the first epistle that these problems at Corinth, at least for the most part, were being ignored. Some today are ignoring the existence of sin in local churches. The only time they expend any effort is when some Christian does challenge the sin – then they exert energy in opposing the brother who is opposing sin. Too many today are influenced by the unity-indiversity qoncept. To them unity is looking the other way and extreme tolerance in matters of sin. Brethren, too many preachers and elders are found in this group!
When church problems come, what do you do? I am not advocating chaos and pandemonium. However, thefaithful must become more active or cease to befaithful (Rev. 2:14-20). More and more churches are filling up with adultery, false doctrines, etc. while those who know better sit back and do nothing. I was talking with a preacher about a growing doctrinal problem where he preached. I asked him what his method was in dealing with the situation. His reply was, “Are you crazy, I am not in the mood to move, so I am not going to do anything.”
Brethren, how do church problems affect you? Do they have the design of making you manifest as approved of God (1 Cor. 11:19)?
I firmly believe God’s word contains perfect teaching which will, when followed, result in happy productive families (Eph. 5:22-6:4). When there are domestic problems, you can be assured God’s law is being violated by some within the family unit.
I have observed husbands and fathers who professed to be Christians who would not exert headship and discipline. As a result, problems were forthcoming. In some cases of domestic unpleasantness, the wife is the problem in that she will not submit to her husband’s headship.
Husbands, how do you address problems within your household? Wives, if your husband was to require of you that which is against God’s law, what would you do (Col. 3:18)?
Beloved, we could continue briefly drawing attention to circumstances such as giving, teaching others, etc. to raise the question of our conduct and actions in these situations. However, I believe we have sufficiently illustrated the nature of trials. David desired to be tried of God. Hear him: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psa. 139:23,24).
The next time you encounter a trying circumstance, whether it be worldliness, church problems, family difficulties or some of the many other situations, remember you are being tested and proved. In these circumstances, let us “commit the keeping of our souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Pet. 4:19).
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 5, pp. 138-139
March 2, 1989