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Wed, Jun 10, 1998

04 - Testing

1 Corinthians 10:13 & James 1:2 by Robert Dean
NOTE: Technical problems with the microphone started occurring about 42 minutes into the lesson.
Series:James (1998)
Duration:53 mins 22 secs

1 Corinthians 10:13; James 1:2

1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."

Then very first word in the Greek text is PEIRASMOS [peirasmoj]. This is an anartharous noun. That means it does not have the definite article in the Greek. When a noun appears without the article in Greek you have to ask yourself whether this is indefinite in the sense of a temptation, or is the writer emphasizing the quality of the noun, which is what is happening here. The writer is emphasizing the quality of the noun, meaning any kind of temptation, whatever it is. Any category that you can come up with is covered by this word. The meaning of the world is to test, and in come contexts it has the inference of temptation. But we have to carefully understand what this is talking about. It is testing in the objective sense, and it only becomes a temptation if it is internalized subjectively. So the context really determines whether we are talking about a temptation or a test.

A test describes an external set of circumstances which arouse in the sin nature a desire to choose a course of action for resolving the test, a sinful course of thought, word, or action. As we are going through life, we discover from James, we just fall into these things, and that is the same idea that we pick up here when we look at the verb, that all of a sudden we are overtaken by a test. It is something that is external to us, it just comes to us all of a sudden. We have a choice. Volition immediately comes into play and we can say yes to doctrine or no to doctrine. As we go a certain distance when we start growing in the Christian life we hit tests of faith. When that word "faith" is used in Scripture it is PISTIS [pistij], which has two meanings. It has an active meaning which is faith, and it has a passive means which that which is believed, i.e. doctrine. So these are tests of doctrine. Tests are designed to evaluate how you are using the doctrine in your soul. In each test you have the choice, yes or no, to apply the doctrine that is in your soul. Temptation always arises from the area of weakness in the sin nature.

Within the cell structure of every human being there is a sin nature. It has an area of weakness, that area that tempts the soul to commit personal sin. In each person there is an area or areas in their life where they are very susceptible to sin. From the area of weakness we produce temptation to the soul. We do not yield to it and it does not become sin until the volition acquiesces to the temptation that arises from the sin nature. The volition has the opportunity to be negative or positive, to resist by using doctrine. So the area of weakness tempts to commit personal sins in these three categories: mental attitude sins, sins of the tongue, and overt sins. Proverbs 8:13; Isaiah 41:10; Philippians 4:6, 1 John 2:11. Mental attitude sins are the most destructive in the spiritual life and they can quickly initiate a whole variety of sins that begin to explode off of each other. Sins of the tongue include gossip, maligning, criticizing, lying. One of the most damaging things awe can do is to get involved with sins of the tongue. The third category is overt sins, and the overt sins are not the worst sins. The worst are the mental attitude sins that underlie the overt sins and are the most destructive.

The next area of the sin nature is the area of strength. This is where you are not susceptible to temptation. One person may be strong in certain areas and not yield to temptation, not even get attracted by certain areas of sin. Another person really has difficulty with those same sins. So the first person wants to judge: "I don't have any problem with those temptations, so why don't you say no?" So each person wants to judge one another, but we can't do that because we all have certain sins that will plague us and give us terrible difficulty all of our lives. Hopefully by the time we go to be with the Lord we can get some kind of grip on some of those sins, but everybody has certain areas of weakness that are very difficult to deal with and will struggle all their life. And the way that God deals with us is different. Every single person is dealt with differently, so you can't judge somebody else by how God is dealing with you. We don't have any right to evaluate another believer by your standards because you are not the standard and your experience is not the standard. So you need to just shut up and keep moving, and pray for them that they can endure and persevere and ultimately deal with that problem in their lives, and never talk about it, don't worry about it, it is between them and the Lord and you need to stay out of it. Everybody has areas of strength and areas of weakness.

The area of strength becomes operational only after the believer chooses to sin. When the believer chooses to sin, then and only then does the sin nature become operative. Up to that point you are in fellowship. Then you have a test, you have a choice to apply doctrine or not. If you decide not to apply doctrine then you are going to sin, and once you make that choice then the sin nature becomes operative and you begin to operate under the arrogance of your area of strength. That produces human good. These are good deeds that the Bible calls dead works in Hebrews 6:1, they are good deeds that can be performed by believer and unbeliever alike. The problem with most believers is that they don't have any system of mechanics to differentiate between good deeds that are produced in the power of the Holy Spirit and good deeds that are produced in the power of the sin nature. The only way you can distinguish is through confession of sin, 1 John 1:9 which is the mechanic or the means by which you come under the filling of the Holy Spirit so that you can utilize the Word of God to produce divine good. Otherwise all you are doing is operating in morality. Anything an unbeliever can do is not part of the spiritual life. Most Christians are out there trying and trying to live good moral lives, which is wonderful, but they are living good moral lives thinking that is spirituality. But remember the principle: anything an unbeliever can do is not part of the spiritual life. The spiritual life is that which is uniquely produced in the believer by the Holy Spirit as a result of the intake of Bible doctrine and its residency in your soul.

Everybody produces a certain amount of human good. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 tells us that as we go through life we produce certain things on our foundation of salvation: NASB "Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is {to be} revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." There are six categories of works there. They each do not refer to specific things, they just talk about that which is valuable and that which has no value, that which can survive the burning and that which cannot survive burning. The analogy here is one of refining. This is something that anybody in that era would understand. You take a bunch of material and put it in the refiner's fire and that which is dross, the wood, hay and straw, is going to be burned up and consumed by the fire. But fire cannot consume gold, silver and precious stones. It will burn off all the impurities and just leave the purified gold, silver and precious stones there. So the analogy is that as you go through life you are making all kinds of production. Sometimes you are not even sure if what you are producing is under the filling of the Holy Spirit or not. You just hope that it is, you just continue to rebound and hope that what you are producing is in the power of the Holy Spirit and therefore is divine good. Only at the judgment seat of Christ will we know. There may be a lot of believers who look as though they have done all kinds of things for God in their life and they are left with nothing because it was all done in the power of the sin nature and it is all human good.

The sin nature has two trends. One of the trends is toward lasciviousness, towards antinomianism (against rules and regulations). An antinomian is a person who uses 1 John 1:9 as a licence to sin. If you continue down this road you end up in immoral degeneracy. The other trend produces asceticism and legalism. This is the idea of good works, being impressed by how good we are. Asceticism is the idea of giving up things for God. Legalism is the idea that somehow the things I don't do are going to make me a better believer. This usually focuses on the grey areas in life that relate to alcohol, gambling, food consumption, or it can relate to just about anything. This erects various forms of taboos. Taboos are humanistic systems or standards that are artificially set up by a culture, and those standards become absolutes in the spiritual life.

The core of the sin nature is the lust patterns. This is the motivation that drives the sin nature. There are all kinds of lusts. There is approbation lust, which is the desire for approval, trying to get people to like you, to approve of you, to tell you good things you have done and feeding off that approbation. There is power lust, sexual lust, social lust, monetary lust, materialism lust, inordinate ambition which results in inordinate competition, revenge lust, criminal lust, chemical lust—love for drugs and alcohol; these are all part of the sin nature—pleasure lust, crusader lust. All of these are the motivators of the sin nature and drive the sin nature toward one trend or the other. The sin nature gains control of your life at a point where you respond negatively to the test.

In 1 Corinthians 10:13 we read "No test has overtaken you…" This is the perfect tense of LAMBANO [lambanw]. The perfect tense emphasizes the present results of a past action. The idea here is of being overtaken, of having something come up on you. LAMBANO means to take or to receive, to overtake or to be seized by something. It is the idea that no test has seized you or overtaken you, the idea of surprise, "but such as is common to man." This is the Greek word ANTHROPINOS [a)nqropinoj], and the ending there makes it something that is very human, something that is according to man. It is an idiom for that which is bearable because everybody is going to go through these kinds of tests. Even the Lord Jesus Christ went through every category of testing, and during His time on the earth He was demonstrating how to live under the power of the Holy Spirit because He was filled with the Holy Spirit. He didn't have a sin nature so he was not tempted on the inside subjectively, but He went through every category of external test and He never chose to sin.

There are several categories of adversity that are common to man.

1)  Social adversity. This is when you lose your social life, you lose friends, it may involve a broken romance, marital problems, personality conflicts with somebody, injustice from some person.

2)  Historical disaster. This includes economic disaster from a recession or depression, warfare, having a nation defeated in war, diplomatic defeat, loss of establishment principles, loss of freedom, the violence of a revolution, becoming the victim of terrorism or persecution. This is all part of historical disaster.

3)  Criminal disaster, being the victim of some crime: robbery, rape, embezzlement, blackmail, child abuse, incest, or various other crimes.

4)  Vilification, where you are the victim of people running you down, spreading lies about you, gossiping, maligning, slandering, unjust loss of reputation.

5)  Rejection. Many people go through rejection, and many people think they go through rejection when they don't but they react the same way; social isolation, business isolation, losing a job, being laid off, unfair treatment, being a victim of prejudice, being rejected by someone you love and care about.

6)  Weather disasters: blizzards, ice storms, hurricanes, tornados, flood.

7)  Loss of health: disease, pain, terminal illnesses, starvation, handicap, blindness, being paralysed.

8)  The loss of a loved one.

These are just some of the adversities that are common to man, and we never know when one of these things are going to come in to our lives and give us the opportunity to apply doctrine and accelerate our growth and spiritual maturity, or to reject doctrine and cave in to the pressure of the sin nature and to respond through various sins.


(Sound level too low ….)