Blessed are Those Who Persevere Under Trial
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
Unexpected and unwanted
God is bringing us to the point of all of our behavioral difficulty:
1. He has a standard (don’t eat from the tree. Honor my image in people.)
2. We find the standard annoying
3. We endure the annoyance and submit or we disobey.
I Cor 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you except something common to mankind; and God is faithful, so He 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.
I. Unexpected Circumstances and Unexpected Blessing
Remember the definition of a trial:
An unexpected and unwelcome circumstance. This is a very broad definition!
A. Blessings for those who persevere
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Define blessing. Blessings make life good.
We are going to find good things in all of our difficulties. This is the asking for wisdom part from earlier.
B. They receive the crown of life
A crown is a sign of authority and victory!
Those who endure win.
And they have authority to experience and exhibit life.
Process! Process! Process!
Concerning those who fall away? Where is the victory? Where is the life? We are called to life, and in Christ, we have the authority to claim life in every circumstance that we experience.
Crowns are for those who experience victory. We have victory in Jesus as long as we do not quit. If you run a race and you quit, you cannot win!
Ephesians 6: put on the armor and then stand firm.
Persevering under trial gives us the fundamental foundation in life to have life in any circumstance.
The fact is that we will not be sheltered from trials. Because we follow Christ we will be brought into conflict with the world, our flesh and the devil. So, we will have life in the midst of the trial as we endure it faithfully pursuing obedience to the commands of Christ.
C. Life and firstfruits
18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
1. He gave us birth: What is birth?
God has birthed us into a different life in Christ.
We are made different from the world. This is where the conflict with the world comes from. Do we want to give that up so that we won’t have the trial of that conflict? We will still have trials!
2. We are a kind of firstfruits. All of creation experiences the trials that come from sin. But we have been born again. Our spiritual selves are the first things in all of creation to be born anew. And it is the experience of trials that brings out this new person in you. But it is only birthed by trusting and obeying God in the midst of the trial.
Ok, I mentioned that we will have trials, let’s talk about that. V.13-15
II. God, Testing and Tempting
A. There is a snake in the Garden of Eden
The circumstances of a test and a trial are the same.
We should not expect a life immune from tests!
II Corinthians 4: 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
B. God tests His people
Deuteronomy 8:1Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.
Remember how God led you all the way:
1. He tested you in order to know what was in your heart
a. will you keep his commands when you encounter difficulty?
b. He humbled you with hunger. He did this to show you that it takes more than food to give someone life!
c. Same thing with water: And the water was Christ!
I Corinthians 10: For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Matthew 4: Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
C. Satan tempts God’s people
The circumstances are the same, the intent is different.
We are tempted when:
1. We are dragged away by our evil desire and are enticed.
(God desires for us to know what is in our hearts. This is why it is so important for us to guard our hearts, to set our hearts on God’s kingdom and will!)
2. Desire uncontrolled over time will lead to sin.
3. Sin uncontrolled over time will lead to death.
III. Put God at the Center of Your Heart
Sensual pleasure is pleasurable. Do not sacrifice your freedom. Do not sacrifice your life. (Esau’s example)
A. Every good thing comes from God
We are not called to be ascetics! We are called to be disciplined!
God wants us to be free and He wants us to enjoy His good gifts.
It removes the joy of a good gift when children fight over it and are selfish!
B. Your heart will displace God with good things
This is how we are tempted.
Take Eve in the Garden, or Jesus in the wilderness.
There is a good thing that is exalted above God’s will or person.
Food is good, water is good, sex is good, success is good, possessions are typically good, money is good. God has blessed us all with these things. But they all come from Him. He is what is actually good!
God knows what you need in life! Matthew 6 on prayer:
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 7 on prayer:
7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
C. The heart is the issue
What do you desire? Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. Jesus quotes Scripture to Satan. It is what guides his heart and therefore His actions. It is what He fights the temptation with!
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: He will add what you need to your life for life!
Trust in the Lord with all of you heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge Him. He will direct your paths!
Come and be yoked with Jesus!
The value of spiritual disciplines is the same as the value of a trial. We have the things that our hearts are attached to removed. And then we don’t like that they are gone. We then need to find God and set our heart on Him. That is the source of all goodness and freedom!