The Test of Faith
Will you pass the test? No one likes tests, right? Ok, that is an assumption on my part, but suffice it to say that tests for most people are stress-inducing. The SAT test, in particular, was a source of stress in our household. One moment in time to prove yourself. We can wonder why we have to test ourselves. But there is a test that we all must go through. The test of faith. There is no fence walking there. We are either in the faith or we are not. And we will bear consequences for that choice. It is pass/fail. No in-between.
The Test of Faith—Deuteronomy 13-15
Tests prove our readiness and mastery of the content being presented. Deuteronomy 13 opens up today with a test that God has for His people. How would you answer these questions:
- Do you love God?
- Do you follow Him?
- And do you fear Him?
- Do you keep His commands?
- Do you listen to Him?
- And do you worship Him?
- Are you faithful to Him?
We all in our hearts want to answer yes to these questions, and we all know the Sunday school answer to any question, right? It’s Jesus!
But the proof is shown when we are tested. And sometimes we are not aware that we have a test coming.
The Test of Faith—It’s Test time!
Have you ever forgotten about a test or had to cram for a test? I remember one time at the University of Maryland when I was late for a test. And on another time, I did not know there was a test and was highlighting the book in yellow right before I had to take it. I passed those tests due in part to the lifestyle of preparation I had before those tests.
For the Israelites, and sometimes for us, the tests can be tricky. Would they be able to discern if a prophet were trying to lead them astray? Or if their own loved ones tried to? Or if the surrounding culture was influencing them away from God? These were the measures used to test their hearts and prove their faith.
The Test of Faith—Do You Love Me?
“If a prophet or someone who has dreams arises among you and proclaims a sign or wonder to you, 2 and that sign or wonder he has promised you comes about, but he says, ‘Let’s follow other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let’s worship them,’ 3 do not listen to that prophet’s words or to that dreamer. For the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul. 4 You must follow the Lord your God and fear him. You must keep his commands and listen to him; you must worship him and remain faithful to him. 5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he has urged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the place of slavery, to turn you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to walk. You must purge the evil from you.”
The Test of Faith—Test #1—A Religious Leader
The chief test here was a prophet – so someone who represented God – was trying to lead God’s people away from God. Y’all, we have to be like the Bereans – are we testing what we hear in the pulpit? Not to beat up the pastor, but to make sure we are walking in truth. We should test what we hear with the word of God. Luke applauded the Bereans for doing so.
“Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
The test was whether or not they really loved God. The temptation was whether they would follow the leader’s advice to follow other gods or follow God. And the proof of that love was shown in their actions.
Pastors mean well but they aren’t perfect and sometimes they make mistakes, too. There is a struggle between being culturally sensitive and not being biblically sensitive. We must be discerning like the Bereans.
The Test of Faith—Our Response When Tested
- We must follow Him . . . before we ever follow man.
- We must fear Him . . . more than we fear man.
- And we must keep His commands . . . more than trying to fit in because we belong to Jesus.
- We must listen to Him . . . not listen to all the different opinions and philosophies of this world.
- We must worship Him . . . and not resort to idolatry.
- And we must be faithful to Him . . . and after all, we are talking about the test of faith – being faithful.
The Test of Faith—Test #2—Loved Ones
There were other people who would try to turn God’s people from following Him. After the prophet was those in our inner circle. Our family and loved ones.
“If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you embrace, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let’s go and worship other gods’—which neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 any of the gods of the peoples around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other— 8 do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity, and do not spare him or shield him. 9 Instead, you must kill him. Your hand is to be the first against him to put him to death, and then the hands of all the people.”
Notice these were people who were close to them. And their temptation was to get God’s people to not just follow other gods, but to go and worship them. Worship happens when we prioritize something or someone above all else. Worship is not always so obvious.
We need to not check our brain at the door. We need to be in God’s word so we can discern.
The Test of Faith—Um, Kill Those Who tempt Us Away From God?
Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room. We are not supposed to murder someone if they try to tempt us away from following God.
“The Old Testament law commanded the death penalty for various acts: murder (Exodus 21:12), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), homosexuality (Leviticus 20:13), being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13:5), prostitution and rape (Deuteronomy 22:24), and several other crimes. However, God often showed mercy when the death penalty was due. David committed adultery and murder, yet God did not demand his life be taken (2 Samuel 11:1-5, 14-17; 2 Samuel 12:13). Ultimately, every sin we commit should result in the death penalty because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Thankfully, God demonstrates His love for us in not condemning us (Romans 5:8).
The Test of Faith—Grace When We Fail
When the Pharisees brought a woman who was caught in the act of adultery to Jesus and asked Him if she should be stoned, Jesus replied, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). This should not be used to indicate that Jesus rejected capital punishment in all instances. Jesus was simply exposing the hypocrisy of the Pharisees.
God is the One who instituted capital punishment: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6). Jesus would support capital punishment in some instances. Jesus also demonstrated grace when capital punishment was due (John 8:1-11).
But perhaps we see the seriousness of the sin of someone trying to influence someone away from faith in God. And friends, this happens every day, 24/7. The influences surrounding us and our children trying to pull us away from God are ridiculous. These influences are tests that can be overcome by God’s word and through the power of the Holy Spirit, prayer, and being in community with godly, like-minded people.
But how do we correct others? In humility and grace . . . with truth without compromise.
The Test of Faith—Test #3—The Surrounding Culture
If it isn’t someone in the church or a family member trying to lead you astray, perhaps it is the culture around you.
12 “If you hear it said about one of your cities the Lord your God is giving you to live in, 13 that wicked men have sprung up among you, led the inhabitants of their city astray, and said, ‘Let’s go and worship other gods,’ which you have not known, 14 you are to inquire, investigate, and interrogate thoroughly. If the report turns out to be true that this detestable act has been done among you, 15 you must strike down the inhabitants of that city with the sword. Completely destroy everyone in it as well as its livestock with the sword.”
Notice that we are not to be apathetic and just throw in the towel. No. We are to do something about it. We are to inquire, investigate, and interrogate thoroughly. And we need to examine our culture through a biblical lens. This will mean we might get persecuted. But this, too, is the test of faith that proves whether our faith is genuine or not.
The Test of Faith—Accessing the Blessing
We all want to get an “A” on a test, right? Ok, an “A+”. We don’t want to barely pass. On a recent Hebrew final exam, I literally wept during the test. It was so hard. I had been hospitalized during the final weeks of the class and just struggled to get final assignments in. My family rolled their eyeballs because I did get an A+ on that test and in that class, but it was a hard-fought A+, y’all.
The goal for an A+ is not for our glory, but God’s. We give our best because He deserves it. And when our faith is tested and proven genuine, we arrive at a place of blessing. Because God is so good. He sets the standard of righteousness and then fulfills it on our behalf. Not so we can coast through this life, but so we can have strength and grace to rise to the tests this life presents.
The Test of Faith—Other Tests of Obedience
The chief struggle for us all and for God’s people back then was idolatry. Faithlessness. This is why our faith needed to be tested so we would grow and not shrink back. Deuteronomy 14 reminds us to avoid practices that are forbidden by God. Don’t follow the culture. Lead it to God. The food practices aren’t as applicable to us today, but there are principles found within this text. We see the words reiterated in Deuteronomy 14:2 and 14:21:
“2 For you are a holy people belonging to the Lord your God. The Lord has chosen you to be His own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.”
The Test of Faith—Be Holy As He is Holy
God’s holiness does not change with the influences of the world, family, or religion. We need to be steadfast. Faithful. Faithful in the tithe and in generosity to those in need mentioned in chapters 14 and 15. And faithful in purity and holiness. Finally, we need to be faithful to submit to God rather than yielding to ungodly influences. And look at the promise that is ours if we do Deuteronomy 15:5, “5 if only you obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow every one of these commands I am giving you today . . .”
Scripture of the Day: Deuteronomy 15:6 (NLT)
“The LORD your God will bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations but will never need to borrow. You will rule many nations, but they will not rule over you.”
- Study God’s word to be ready for the tests this life brings.
- Examine the influences in your life through God’s word.
- Follow God, not man.
𝗝𝗼𝗶𝗻 𝗺𝗲 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗕𝗶𝗯𝗹𝗲 𝗥𝗲𝗮𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝗻 𝗮𝘁 12 𝗽𝗺 𝗘𝗧.
Day #302: Deuteronomy 13-15—Test of Faith
𝒱𝑒𝓇𝓈𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒟𝒶𝓎: Deuteronomy 13-15
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