Trials

Scriptural examination of three primary modes in which affliction pursues Christian believers.

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

In the matter of us versus the Prince of this world: we will struggle.  

  1. Temptations will test our decision making and maturity: Are we obedient?  Choices to sin or turn away.  Wisdom and Knowledge are principles in the experience.
  2. Tribulations will build character in the form of patience, long-suffering -- these begin, become a consuming story and then after a period of time, or a "season", there is resolution ... we move on.  We will be different in some ways but no worse, really, for the wear and tear.
  3. Thorns afflict us with difficulty that begins and will never end.  They are a permanent infliction that we can only overcome on a daily basis by the Grace of God.   It changes us in big ways, but mainly in humility.  Without God we couldn't exist, pride is gone.

Thorn

posted Dec 11, 2012, 9:07 PM by David Gerhart   [ updated Dec 12, 2012, 2:47 PM ]

"...  in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me."  2 Corinthians 12:7

The Greek word translated here as thorn means a big stake.  It is a grievous injury.  We suffer great pain, and even after the "thorn" is removed, if it can be, an infection must follow - driving a slow recovery, great ongoing sickness, scarring, disfigurement and even disability.

The evidence and affects of this trial is lifelong.

Metaphorically, in the old testament there is an indication that we have at some point allowed ourselves, for selfish reasons, to permit the irritating vice remain.

“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live."  Numbers 33:55

It's evident that in some way, our weakness has lent itself to bringing our infliction to us.

Tribulations

posted Dec 11, 2012, 1:21 PM by David Gerhart   [ updated Dec 12, 2012, 12:58 PM ]

Tribulations last for a season.  Where temptation exists in isolation, at a point in time they tend to repeat.  Tribulations have a beginning, a middle and an end.  They tend to happen only once.   Tribulations tend to have the affect of amplifying temptations -- most particularly pointing out where we are weak within the context of that difficulty.

"... we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance and perseverance, character and character hope." Ro. 5:3-4

Tribulation exists simply because life is hard sometimes (a business fails, a loved one is ill to death, a dream dies...)  But tribulation also exists because we willfully disregard the Lords plan in life.

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?" Heb 12:7

The Hebrew people were famously warned, failed to repent and ended up in bondage.  A debt to the Lord in this way must be paid, but he is always merciful.

In restoration God is always generous, providing 2 to 10 times the worldly goods in reparation for his work destroying the idols that distract us.

Temptation

posted Dec 11, 2012, 1:18 PM by David Gerhart   [ updated Dec 12, 2012, 1:03 PM ]

Temptation is a short duration thing.  Temperance is the spiritual attribute we learn.  It is the "Shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one."  Eph. 6:16 

"Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the enemy."  Eph. 6:11

As a soldier in the Lord's army I defend the place I'm posted.  My responsibility extends only as far as the point of my sword -- or as we know it: the Word of God.  

Each passing thought is filtered.  Temptations come and if we are obedient to the truth of Christ, we let them pass away, putting them out of our being.  Our very awareness must be purged, constantly -- replacing all with Christ.

"... if by the Spirit you put to death the sins of the flesh, you will live."  Ro. 8:13

In our obedience to the truth, we are grown in the spirit.  Maturing a bit at a time, walking with the Lord.

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.  Eph. 6:16.

One notes that it is the shield of faith that protects us from the doubts the enemy pursues us with.

Our best defense is a faithful response based in the truth of scripture -- modeling ourselves after Christ, who in the desert responded.

"Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God."  ... those words are the truth we adhere to.

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