Treading a fine line!

9 Then the Devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. 11 And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ 12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’ Luke 4

It can be a bit of a challenge to distinguish between exercising faith and testing God. And quite commonplace to hear some mind-blowing testimonies of people who found themselves in situations where they had to exercise very strong faith in the face of severe adversity and came out victorious. But when does it stop being an act of faith and start becoming a test of our dear God?

When Jesus was tempted by the Devil to test God by proving He was the Son of God, His response was to quote Deuteronomy 6: 16. And the context of this verse was Exodus 17 where the children of Israel complained against God because they had no water. In this case, they had already seen the hand of God in their lives but wanted further proof that God was with them and this constituted testing God.

For many believers, there are times when it seems God is no longer with us and we tend to seek some sort of reassurance that we are still God’s. Jesus found Himself in a similar situation in the above verse as He had previously been called the Son of God but here He was suffering from hunger. This, the Devil tried to play to his advantage by asking “are you really sure you are God’s Son?” The temptation would have been present to reassure Himself that God was still with Him by trying to turn the stone to bread or by throwing Himself off the pinnacle. But He knew His relationship with God was not works related and had nothing to do with Him but everything to do with God. He was the only begotten of the Father and this made Him God’s son and God was extremely proud of Him.

We constantly put the Lord to test with many of our actions without actually knowing it. It is not uncommon to see some Christians refuse medication when they have been diagnosed with some kind of treatable illness because they believe taking medicine is denying the faith. They are simply trying to prove God when it is completely unnecessary. God requires no reassurance from us that He is God.

Others still, take some unnecessary risks in the mistaken belief that God is pleased with such recklessness. A good example is the popular word of faith doctrine of releasing your faith through sacrificial giving or tithing to prove God aka Malachi 3: 8.

It is only an unbeliever who requires proof of the existence of God and God is always upset with believers who try to prove His existence in their lives. Our salvation experience is proof enough of God’s abilities.  And the call to prove God through tithing in Malachi 3 was aimed at unbelieving Jews and it truly begins to border on stupidity giving money in the belief it will attract God’s attention. A child does not need to earn his needs from his father as a good father is always attentive to the needs of his son.

In conclusion, Hebrews 11: 6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God and no mention was made of works or attempts to prove God. And the word translated faith is gotten from the Greek word “Pistis” which means conviction of the truth of anything or conviction that God exists. This is purely a heart thing that does not require any so called acts of faith to bolster it.

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11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hije
    Oct 08, 2012 @ 18:29:18

    Thanks bro. I wonder if my children would have to prove that I am their father by “giving to me”. They do not need to do that. But scriptures says if you give to the poor you are giving to God. This scripture is no longer taught. There is no where in the bible that says if you give a pastor something you are giving to God.

    Reply

  2. Chris
    Oct 31, 2012 @ 04:05:24

    Hi Tony

    The testing of God by church leadership requiring believers to keep the Law (of tithing) is something the apostle Peter strongly advised against in Acts 15:10

    Faith says ‘my Father HAS blessed me’…..rather than trying to obey the Law to earn it.

    Faith says ‘Jesus has redeemed me from the curse of the Law’…. rather than paying out protection money in fear that our businesses will fail and families be attacked.

    Much of the tithing in the world today is a lack of faith dressed in ignorance

    Reply

  3. mjoylaw
    Mar 17, 2013 @ 22:39:22

    I’m sorry, but you are totally wrong on this. James will set you straight:
    James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    People who believe that they only need to sit back, do nothing and sow seeds and just listen to the Pastor without reading their Bible for themselves, are simply suffering from believing incorrect doctrine. We can never trust only in people, but we all have to work out our own salvation. If people have disappointed you, that is too bad but the Bible tells us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord, so that we will not be moved by the misdeeds of people but look to God’s Word alone.

    Yes, we must have faith; it is impossible to please God without faith. But the Bible makes it clear that having faith is not just a matter of the heart only; its also a matter of getting up and DOING the things that God leads us to do, following His instructions.

    So if you have missed out by failing to follow God’s instructions and take advantage of His opportunities, don’t make things worse by being bitter. Start DOING what God tells you to do. If you don’t know what to do, then ASK Him in prayer. Wisdom is the principal thing; and if any of us lack wisdom God says to simply ask Him and He will give it to you.

    Finally, dear brother, God will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten. If you return to Him with your whole heart, He will give you another chance and He will make it up to you for what you have suffered!!!! Trust Him and return to Him TODAY

    Reply

    • eliteinchrist
      Mar 19, 2013 @ 09:56:02

      Mjoylaw, thanks for your contribution but it appears you completely ignored the context of this piece. This is about trying to gain God’s approval through works.

      The context in which James uses works and faith is completely different from the context of what I have written. James refers to your faith as it affects your relationship with your fellow man – your works of faith makes it obvious to others that you have faith. Eg. Clothing someone who is naked, feeding someone who is hungry etc.

      14 My brothers and sisters, if a person claims to have faith but does nothing, that faith is worth nothing. Faith like that cannot save anyone. 15 Suppose a brother or sister in Christ comes to you in need of clothes or something to eat. 16 And you say to them, “God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,” but you don’t give them the things they need. If you don’t help them, your words are worthless.

      I, on the other hand, look at your faith as it affects your relationship with God which the bible clearly says is based on faith and faith alone. It does not require any acts of works to supplement it. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works lest any man should boast. Hope this makes sense?

      Reply

    • Let's Get Honest
      Jun 10, 2014 @ 16:34:48

      mjoylaw, you commented on my blog this morning (over a year later), and I know before. (post has the word “OxyMORON” published 6/9/2014). I want to say thank you and from what I’m reading above, continue to pray for me, the situation, my daughters. I am still a mother and this petition on that post, DO describe the situation. Also, I am (as we speak) doing what I feel called to do ,and the matters involved are justice, and speaking the truth into this personal situation. I don’t know what the outcome may be…. Anyone would rather be doing something else, in a material way, of course….). Regarding giving, II Corinthians 7,8,9 speak of helping ministers, of people who were giving their lives.

      What we FULLY don’t understand is that in these times (USA esp.), the church (so -called) wants to have the best of Caesar’s favor, and calls it God’s favors. Churches incorporate under specialized tax exemptions, above normal nonprofits, AND have a tradition dating back before the income tax (oppressing most of the population to better help centralize wealth) of giving. I have explained this to very intelligent (Christian) people active, it would seem, trying to address domestic violence in the church, who “cannot” (will not?) admit this, even though it’s the truth. This spiritualizing of realities sets a ripe climate for coverup of abuse.

      What my post (published last night) is saying — become aware of our own use of language, and what terms mean to us may not match what they actually represent. “The Body of Christ” is a spiritual reality described in human terms also in other places as a temple, or “house of the living God” (as I recall). Ephesian 4 (see all of Ephesians for that matter). Romans 12. I Corinthians 12, “concerning spiritual matters, brethren, I would not have you ignorant….”

      When this gets upside down, then attending service becomes getting a good feeling to go out and recruit others to pay the mortgage (etc.), all the while it’s already tax-exempt, which is in exchange as a privilege for submitting to being regulated by the commercial code of this country. ALL must come under its umbrella, or be “illegal.” Moreover (see the blog), government has been now funneling millions of dollars of grants direct to churches, knowing full well that what’s in reality a 501(c)3 corporation under a church banner, will be marketed to others as “ministries.” (example: Trinitychurch.tv in Miami), boilerplate concepts replicated through the internet.

      I don’t mean to jump in on the topic of this blog, was just looking up “mjoylaw” commenter. I’m about to go into a confidential address program for protection and ask your prayers on that process. Will answer the other comment in part.

      Reply

      • Let's Get Honest
        Jun 10, 2014 @ 16:42:50

        RE: last comment (6/10/2014 submitted), FYI, I developed my sensitivity to language, DNK for sure if it’s the only source (I’m a musician), but from years immersed in the Bible, and in some of the languages it was translated from (OK, Greek — with aids). And, surviving years of in-home abuse, you become sensitive to dynamics of language as a matter of survival, part of which is seeing it coming before it gets there, and getting yourself and the children out of the house. I have seen atheists and people from other religions (for example,people who identify as Jewish) just read what’s written in there, and come to faith. If there’s any group of people I’d say have the hardest time actually just reading the Bible, and understanding its primary message, I’d have to say it was people raised in churches, which have to parcel it out with high interpretation and set up “practices” to differentiate themselves in the marketplace from all the other churches (see “customers”)…. First verse I ever memorized; Hebrews 4:12.

        I gotta go. Peace.

      • Let's Get Honest
        Jun 10, 2014 @ 16:50:12

        The discussion of faith here reminds me of I Corinthians 13, faith,hope, and love (agape), and love is the greatest. Of course faith starts the ball rolling, but God loved us and sacrificed first….

        Also this combo is shown in I Thessalonians 1, short enough for a comment, I think. All of these seem to be qualities of the spirit and fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5 lists nine, another one of which is peace….)…. Here’s that chapter:


        1 Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

        2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

        3 Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

        4 Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God.

        5 For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.

        6 And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:

        7 So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.

        8 For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.

        9 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

        10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.”

        You can’t get it much more beautifully than this. Also see verse 5. Thanks if you’re still around for posting the comments. They might help someone else.

  4. Chris
    Mar 19, 2013 @ 12:13:40

    James quotes two examples of faith which produced works. First, that of Abraham who believed God and was counted as righteous…and that of Rahab who sent the messengers out by another way. Faith simply trusts God….and does what it feels led to do. If we see a need we give because of HIS love ing us. Not to earn the reward (as tithers try to do) but because of what HE has done for and in us.

    The works are NOT legalist and ritualistice works seeking to impress God…..but simply a new life behaving in the mould of our Father God who has made us to become his children.

    Reply

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