But, How Do You Know?

evil“Let no man say when he is tempted that he is tempted of by God!”

Tested?, Tempted?, or Self-inflicted?…these three are the most difficult questions to answer for Christians when things are not going as expected, planned, or promised. In a way, these three deal with the difficult question of “why do bad things happen to good people?” More directly, this blog entry will help us understand WHY things happen the way they do and on a daily basis. Finally, they help us to see the difference and benefit between having a worldview vs. a spiritual view and how the two coalesce.

In order to gain a grasp of how these three questions impact each of us, we need to also understand that all three come from different beings. Before I expose who they are, let’s define the terms used.

Test: (verb) to ascertain (the worth, capability, or endurance) of (a person or thing) by subjection to certain examinations; try

Tempt: (verb) to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain

Self-inflicted: (adjective) (of an injury) having been inflicted on oneself by oneself

For each definition there is a proponent. For the purposes of this entry, think of:

  1. God as Tester
  2. Satan (Devil) as Tempter
  3. Self as Self-Inflictor

Obviously, it is possible for others to take on each of the roles highlighted. For example, a school teacher could be called a type of tester, a salesman could be called a type of tempter, and we are always saying someone else “made” us do something. Now we arrive at another facet of the three definitions represented by three proponents; that of will or volition. All three of our characters have a degree of will and when it is imposed on others or us it can look and feel very different. Together, all of these observations require a person to be all the more prayerful.

The Biblical visual example of God testing us is found in the book of Job, the Biblical example of us being tempted is found in Matthew 4:1-11, the Biblical example of self-inflicting or bringing upon ourselves trials is found in 1 John 1:8-10.

Mindy McCready FuneralTesting“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, ‘From where have you come?’ Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?’ Then Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” – Job 1:6-12

Tempting“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’ Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. – Matthew 4:1-11

Self-inflicting“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” – 1 John 1:8-10

So how do you know where and from whom the summons will come?

I think C.S. Lewis stated it most correctly when he observed, “People want to live as nouns but we are all adjectives.” The Problem of Pain

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” – James 1:12-18

Earlier in James 1, we are encouraged to ask for wisdom from God and we are encouraged that anyone who asks will be given wisdom by God freely. Herein is the answer to the question of this entry. Only God can provide the clarity needed to understand and know from where and whom the summons may come.

Jesus_SavesImagine a person who does not know if what is happening to them is a TEST from God. Now imagine a person who does not know if what is happening to them is a TEMPTATION from the Accuser of the brethren. Finally, imagine one who does not know if what is happening to them is SELF-INFLICTED. If the portrait painted by this reflection is one of you…Pray to God for wisdom.

I have known and work with people who blame God for things that are clearly the work of the devil and then turn around and blame the devil for things that God is doing. Without wisdom from God we will continue to live as ignorant victims.

Now imagine a person who knows that what is happening to them is a TEST from God. Now imagine a person who knows that what is happening to them is a TEMPTATION from the devil. Finally, imagine a person who know that what is happening to them is SELF-INFLICTED. If the portrait painted by this reflection is one of you…Then you are a God informed person and you are blessed.

The Apostle Paul put it this way, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:7

What’s happening to you…is it from God, Satan, or Self? How do you know?

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.