So I wanted to talk about how the devil works when he comes to tempt us. And I feel like this is an area that is not only not talked about that much but also one that can bring some confusion. This is because we as Christians can often ask the question:’ Why am I being tempted ?’ Or ‘Why am I being tested?’ And a lot of people would say that maybe God is tempting them. This of course is not true, we know this because of a verse in James.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.James 1:13-14 NASB1995
So we know that God doesn’t tempt us, but we do in fact know that God will sometimes test us.
You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.Deuteronomy 8:2 NASB1995
Just as the Lord tested the Israelites in the wilderness, we too may be tested by Him in our own life. Now the idea of testing versus tempting is important. To be tested is to learn what is inside of you. While being tempted is to lead to failure. The testing may reveal a certain weakness that you have, but it may also reveal an important strength. It also could be that the Lord wants to teach you something in this testing. As you can see in the verse above, the Lord was testing the Israelites so that they would learn humility. So if we are tested, then it is good. And often the Lord knows that we will succeed in this testing. Take Job for example. Anyone who has read the book of Job knows that the story is about a man that is tested by the Lord to see if he will still love the Lord in trials. And after Job had passed his test, the Lord blessed him twice as much as before. This is the way the Lord works. After a period of testing, the Lord will always reward you for the trouble. But there is another thing in the story of Job that I wanted to talk about today. And that is this idea that often times when we are tested, the devil is the one who comes to do the evil in our lives. We can get this not only from the story in the book of Job but also from what we find in the gospels. Let’s look at the example in Job first.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord , and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”Job 1:6-7 NASB1995
The story in Job starts with the Sons of God coming before God and Satan came with them. The Sons of God in this scene is understood as the angels. So when Satan comes to present himself before the Lord, the Lord asks Satan where he has been roaming. So Satan responds that he has been walking on the earth.
The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord , “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord .Job 1:8-12 NASB1995
The Lord then asks Satan if he has seen the Lord’s servant Job while on the earth. Satan responds by saying that Job only fears God because he has been blessed. Satan then says that if God were to take away the blessing, then Job would curse God. So God gives permission to Satan to take all that Job has, except for his life. If we break down what is happening here, we see that Satan came to accuse Job of not really fearing the Lord. This is the thing that initiated the testing. It was the Lord’s right to bring Job into testing by Satan. To see whether of not he would follow Him with all his heart. Now we can see this same thing happening to the Apostle Peter in the book of Luke.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”Luke 22:31-34 NASB1995
In the passage we can see that Jesus told Peter that Satan was looking to ‘sift you like wheat’. This means that Satan essentially wanted to toss Peter around. But Jesus says that He prayed for Peter, and that once Peter has turned again he should strengthen the other disciples. Peter then says that he will is willing to go to prison and die for the Lord. So Jesus says that he will deny Him three times before a rooster crows, which is exactly what happened. Yet after this happened, did Peter do what Jesus told him to? Did he go and strengthen his brothers? No, he didn’t. This was part of the testing of the Lord. That Peter would deny Christ three times, yet return and be a leader to his brothers. So we must know that many times when we face struggle and hardship, it is because Satan has demanded permission to test us. And it is important to recognize that we are in a test. It is important because if we know it is a test, then we know there is a reward at the end. We know that before the Israelites entered the promised land, they were tested. Before Job would receive the greatest blessing the Lord had even given him, he was tested. Before Peter would become the leader of the early church and the head apostle, he was tested. Before Jesus was to start His three year ministry filled with power, He was tested in the desert. Before glory and honor comes testing. But always remember that you are being tested because you are being accused. So don’t give the devil an excuse to accuse you before God.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “ Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.Revelation 12:10 NASB1995