By Crawford D. Coon
Although we are God’s chosen people that serve and love Him, God will nevertheless prove that devotion. Our profession of faith, our faithfulness, and our testimony do not completely validate our sincerity to God. These are well and good; yet God will often times subject us to some severe testing and trial in order to prove our dedication. Lip service and noble thoughts are not the criterion upon which rewards and approval from God are granted. Approval from God comes to the proven saint who stands every test, and excels in faithfulness during these times of trial.
Almost every product sold on the market today has to meet certain requirements before it is sold to the public. Automobile manufacturers put their cars through hundreds of tests on various testing grounds, testing parts and performance before they are put on the market for sale. Underwriter’s laboratories place their seal of approval on products they test only after they meet certain requirements. Any type testing, whether in material things or with people, is to determine its performance, durability, limitations, and usefulness. Those that fail under testing have no seal of approval placed upon them.
Christians are not exempt from this discipline. Many things arising in our lives will prove to God our abilities, sincerity, and consecration. Bragging and boasting dies on the proving ground. Shakable things are removed in order for the unshakable to remain (Hebrews 12:27). Testing removes the insincere, hypocrite, lazy, and weak from the ranks. We are in a race (I Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1), and soldiers in a battle (II Timothy 2:3-5), striving for a crown at the close of life. Only the proven will achieve it; are you willing to dedicate fully in order to be approved of God?
While studying the meaning of this important word, keep in mind that God has chosen these things, not to destroy us, but to mature, and edify us.
- Prove – Comes from both a Greek and Hebrew background in its usage in the Scriptures, and means to test, tempt, try, scrutinize, entice, discipline, and examine.
In the case of Israel, God wanted to know several things about them as well as develop some needed virtues in their lives. For forty years He led them through the wilderness determining these things about each of them (Deuteronomy 8:1-6).
- To humble them.
- To prove them.
- To know what was in their heart.
- To know whether they would keep His commandments.
- To make them know that man does not live by bread alone.
Pressure reveals contents! Under duress and stress, what we really are surfaces. God wants the professing and possessing in His kingdom. He looks upon the heart to make the final determination – remember when David was chosen to be king of Israel (I Samuel 16.7), and when Matthias was chosen to take Judas’ place (Acts 1:24).
God uses the following things, along with others, to determine our devotion to Him. Again may I stress, none of these things are designed to destroy us.
We Are Proven By the World
Our environmental position is an important factor in our living for God. All around us sin exists in every form and fashion. In such an environment God wants a people saved by grace and taught by that same grace, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this PRESENT WORLD (Titus 2:11-12). God wants us, and will enable us, to live in the midst of abounding sin and yet retain a character that is unspotted and unblemished by this world (James 1:27; Ephesians 5:26-27).
- Israel – God left some of the unbelieving, sinful inhabitants of Canaan in the land in order to check Israel’s devotion to Him (Judges 2:20-23; 3:1-7). Though few in number Israel allowed the Canaanites to defile and corrupt them by picking up their sinful ways.
- Daniel – Conditions in his life were as adverse as possible, yet he and his three friends purposed some things in their hearts, and refused to let their world (Babylon), separate them from the one true Jehovah God (Daniel 1:8-21).
- Solomon – One of history’s greatest men, yet his demise lives on in our memory and the Word of God. When put to the test he allowed his wives to turn his heart from God (I Kings 11:1-4).
Between the Christian and the world there must ever be a clear line of demarcation (I Corinthians 6:14-7:1). We are in the world. Jesus didn’t pray for us to be taken out of the world, but kept while in the world (John 15:18-19; 17:14-20). God’s Word gives us the proper perspective we are to have toward the world: (1) We are not to love the three elements of the world (I John 2:15-17). (2) We are not to abuse this world while having to use it (I Corinthians 7:29-31). (3) We are not to be a friend to this world (James 4:4). (4) We are to be crucified to the world and the world to us (Galatians 6:14).
We Are Proven By Temptation
Temptation is used in the Scripture in two different forms. Distinguishing and discerning which is spoken of, and the sense in which it is used is absolutely essential. Defining the source or type is important to our spiritual well being.
- Enticement To Evil – Temptation of this type always comes from and through Satan using lust found in our Adamic nature (study closely James 1:12-16). David fell while under this type temptation (II Samuel 11:1-4). Joseph was proven through this type temptation and passed the test (Genesis 39:1-23). God cannot be enticed with evil, neither does He entice men to do evil; always keep this cardinal truth in mind. When you are tempted to do evil its origin isn’t from God.
- Testing For The Purpose Of Approval – God may: (1) Purposefully try or test you Himself through some means or measure. (2) He may ALLOW you to be tested and tried by Satan for the stated purpose.
- Abraham – God tried Abraham in the matter of offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice to Him. Genesis 22:1 uses the word TEMPT, which is properly interpreted TRIED in Hebrews 11:17.
- Job – God ALLOWED Satan to test or try Job (Job 1-2). Though Job’s test wasn’t directly from God as Abraham’s was, yet God allowed him to be tested.
Both of these types of temptation will be the lot of every saint of God. Our prayer should be that we would not be led into temptation (Matthew 6:13). When you are facing the trial of your faith that Peter said would come (I Peter 1:7), always keep this promise in mind:
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13).
We Are Proven By False Doctrine
After you come to the knowledge of the truth, your love for that truth will be tested by winds of false doctrine. Our love for truth must take precedence over anything or anyone in this world. Anything superseding truth in our lives ultimately becomes our idol. Though we are commanded to love our families, yet our love for truth must take precedence over them (Deuteronomy 13:1-11). Heresies will find their way among the righteous for the purpose of proving us (I Corinthians 11:18-19; II John 1:7-11). God has given us safeguards through His Word, the ministry, and the Holy Ghost to protect us from falling into false doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-14; Hebrews 13:9).
Balaam (Numbers 22-24), and the man of God out of Judah (I Kings 13:1-31), listened to the wrong advice and paid tremendous prices for it. God grant us wisdom and grace to say no to every false doctrine we may encounter.
You will be tried by false doctrine; it abounds on every side, but faithfulness to church where we hear sound Bible preaching and teaching and a good personal knowledge of the Bible are good safety measures against being deceived by false doctrine.
We Are Proven By Our Willingness to Dedicate
Somewhere in your Christian experience you will be put to the test in the area of dedication and consecration. When called upon for sacrifice, will you obey and follow? This test is applied to every Christian, some pass, others fail; which will it be for you? Proving ourselves to God in our generation is of the same nature as the following:
- Rich Young Ruler – Went away sorrowfully, with Jesus loving him all the while, simply because he failed the test of dedication (Luke 18:18-23).
- Peter – After catching a great draught of fish, the love of Peter’s life (fishing), was tested by our Lord, as he was asked to follow Jesus (John 21:15-19).
- Ministers – Qualifications are outlined by the Apostle Paul, if one wants to fill the position of a minister. Each of these demands a consecration to the cause of God. God calls men. Then they must pay the price of dedication if they are to be suited to the work (I Timothy 3:1-13).
- Discipleship – Self-denial and cross-bearing are prerequisites for discipleship (Matthew 16:24-26). Living sacrifices presented wholly and acceptable are God’s lowest standard for discipleship (Romans 12:1-2).
God chooses many means and methods to prove our love for Him, so be assured they will come your way. If there were no darkness light would never be known. Truth shines brightest against the backdrop of heresy and false doctrine. True disciples of Christ radiate His glory best in the midst of a sinful, dark, and evil environment. Those that are His would never be known to Him or us were it not for the tests that prove our spiritual fitness (Psalms 66:10). David wanted God to prove and examine him (Psalms 26:2). Self-examination and evaluation of our position in God is a Bible requirement (II Corinthians 13:5).
God’s Word is the only comparison chart we are to use, since measuring and comparing ourselves among ourselves is inadequate (II Corinthians 10:12-18). Through God’s proving ground and training field we must pass before the final analysis is made for rewards. Our great eternal Assayer will assay us through various trials before we come forth as gold (Job 23:10; I Peter 1:7; James 1:2-3).
Soon our proving days will be over, and then God will reward us for every inconvenience we have encountered. Again I remind you, God is not trying to destroy you through testing, He only wants to prove who and what you really are. Testing is only for a season, but the rewards are eternal. Whatever you are facing NOW, go to God for grace to help in your time of need; His grace is sufficient.
This article “God’s Method of Proving His People” was excerpted from: Christian Development Course – A Reason of the Hope Vol. 1 by Crawford D. Coon. Copyright 1987. It may be used for study & research purposes only.