I am delighted to partner with the Bible Advocate magazine; the full-length version of this article is also featured on page 14 of the November-December issue of BA Magazine.
“Don’t give the devil so much credit.”
I do not remember the exact details that prompted my friend to say such a thing, but I do recall being a young believer at the time. I was struggling with something that was not going my way. Ever been there? I carelessly blamed my difficulty on the schemes of the devil, which prompted my friend’s gentle correction: “Don’t give the devil so much credit.”
Are All Trials From the Enemy?
It is so easy—even tempting—to assume every trial we face is rooted in the enemy’s schemes. He is delighted, of course, for this focuses our attention onto ourselves and our problems, and away from God. This then provides fertile ground for the enemy to plant seeds of doubt in our minds as to God’s goodness, power, or love.
What if we are giving the devil too much credit? Is every struggle we encounter really from the enemy?
I wrestled with these questions, so I did some research. I discovered that in the New Testament, the Greek word translated temptation is peirasmos. It is the same word translated as testing. Even more curious, the word stems from the Greek word peira, which means “an experiment.” Isn’t that comforting?
The word itself is neutral; the interpretation depends on the context. If Satan is attempting to entice a person to sin, it is translated as temptation. However, if God is orchestrating events in order to strengthen a person’s faith, build their character, or serve some other godly purpose, then it is translated as testing.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you . . .” (1 Peter 4:12)
God’s Good Purposes
No one wants to suffer trials, but Scripture clearly teaches that there are times when God allows them for His good purposes.
“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20)
While we may not understand why God does everything that He does, He has, in His grace, revealed to us who He is. He is loving, holy, patient, all-knowing, good, and so much more. These are the truths we must cling to whenever we suffer and are tempted to doubt our heavenly Father’s wisdom, goodness, or love.
When we face trials, may we resolve to trust in God’s revelation of Himself, and if we must suffer, to trust God will even empower us to rejoice (even “to boast”) in our suffering. (In Romans 5:1-5, the word translated “rejoice” literally means “to boast.”)