Knowing God’s Discipline and Satan’s Schemes
To satisfy our cravings and longings in a way that is pleasing to God, we must be sensitive to whether what we are going through is a discipline from God (a trial) or a scheming from the Enemy (a temptation). Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the distinction between a temptation and a trial. However, we must be fully aware of how a temptation differs from a trial. Knowing this helps us better understand how to respond to our longings and cravings.
A trial is a time of testing. Times of testing are to be considered with joy. Why? Because problems are from God. They are a way to strengthen our character and fortify our faith. We rejoice amid our trials because they enable us to experience steadfastness and create in us a perfect and complete trust (Jas. 1:4).
A temptation, on the other hand, is an enticement from the devil. It is not from God. As James 1:13-15 tells us, God does not tempt anyone. Instead, each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his desires and enticed. This is the work of the Enemy. The devil seeks nothing but to destroy us, create a victim out of us, and trap us in a cycle of defeat. This is why temptations are typically preceded by thoughts of self-doubt, self-pity, and despair, which give birth to irrational and sinful desires.
Trials From God
Think about it this way. Losing your job can be a trial from God. It can reveal some areas of weakness in your personality or character, which can be strengthened. This will allow you to lean on God and trust Him to make you grow. After all, the Lord disciplines those He loves (Heb. 12:6). On the other hand, losing your job can result in temptation when you wallow in self-pity and self-doubt because this self-pity and self-doubt compel you to resort to sinful cravings. Engaging in ungodly activities, taking shortcuts, and resorting to alcohol to gratify ourselves can appear enticing—and this is precisely what the devil does. Moreover, he makes the ungodly things seem worthwhile. Apparently, Satan makes us settle for counterfeit pleasures. He makes sin alluring.
We must remember that as much as God works in our lives, Satan does too. If God, through Jesus, gives us an abundance of energy and fullness of joy, Satan works in our lives by stealing, killing, and destroying everything that God has in store for us. He distorts our different desires and makes us resort to things outside of God.
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