Why Does God Test Us? Why Can’t We Test Him? A Bible Study

by Jack Wellman on April 20, 2013 · Print Print · Email Email

Does God test us and if so, why?  What is God’s purpose for testing His children?  Why can’t we test Him?

God Tests His Children

The Bible is full of stories about those who had no other choice but to trust in God.  Our trust is like faith and our faith is only as strong as the Object of our faith – and that is God.  God is completely trustworthy and never breaks His promises but God does test us and there is a purpose behind this.  God wanted to test or try Abraham’s faith when He told Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac.  This was the son of promise which was given to Abraham in his old age.  Abraham was old and thought past the age of being able to have children through his wife Sarah.  When Abraham finally did have a son, God wanted him to sacrifice his son.  We read this account in Genesis 22:2 where God told Abraham toTake your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”  Interestingly, Moriah was the same place that God the Father would literally sacrifice His only Son Jesus Christ at Calvary. Abraham was obedient andEarly the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance (Genesis 22:3-4).  Just think about that.  Abraham didn’t delay. He left early in the morning and for three full days and nights must have thought about his son Isaac being sacrificed.  This is the same son through whom the promised seed would bring “many nations” into being and through this same linage, the Messiah would be born.

One wonders what Isaac must have been thinking when Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied. “The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son (Genesis 22:7-8).  What did Isaac think as he was being tied up (Genesis 22:8) and coming to a realization that he was to be the sacrifice?  There is no indication that Abraham hesitated or that Isaac resisted.  Talk about a test!  Ironically, Abraham’s words would be fulfilled in reality that God Himself will provide the lamb and that would later be Jesus Christ, the Perfect Lamb of God…given as a sacrificial sin offering.  Abraham passed his greatest test of all and God told him, Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son (Genesis 22:12).  This is why Abraham is called the father of the faithful and is said of him in Hebrews 11:17, By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son.” James wrote that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did (James 2:22). God may not test us just to see how strong our faith is but to see our faith grow.  God proves every son and daughter of His.

The Faith Test

God may not test us just to see how strong our faith is but to see our faith grow.

God may not test us just to see how strong our faith is but to see our faith grow.

Abraham is not the only one who had to be tested by faith.  So too will believers be today as it is written, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:4).  Paul sees God as testing our hearts and that this testing proves the strength of our faith.  Joseph was also tested by God as He sent a man before them [Joseph], who was sold as a slave.  They afflicted his feet with fetters, He himself was laid in irons; Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the Lord tested him (Psalm 105:17-19).

Trials can test us too as James wrote to Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-5) because 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 (James 1:12).  When I bought my last car I took it for a test drive.  Wouldn’t you?  I never buy anything without first testing it and if I didn’t test it and it doesn’t work well or breaks down, then that is my fault.  God also tests us with trials to ensure that our faith in Him is strong.  Trials can not only test our faith, they can strengthen it, making us more dependent upon God and to be determined to trust Him in all circumstances.

Jesus Himself tested His own disciples once as recorded in John: When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”  He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.”  They obviously failed the test because Phillip and Peter said, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many (John 6:5-9)?  I cannot judge Phillip and Peter though for I can’t count the times that I failed in trusting God.

Do Not Test God

If God can test us, then why can’t we test Him?  Why would we need to because God is faithful and just and never breaks a promise that He makes?  He is completely trustworthy in every way.  God is not pleased when we put Him to the test as Jesus rebuked the Devil in the Temptation in the Wilderness, where Jesus was tempted.  “Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  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.’  Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test (Matthew 4:5-7).  Jesus plainly said that we are not to put “God to the test.”  Why not?  If we are testing God then we are showing a lack of trust in Him.  Here, Satan not only took text out of context, he used it as a pretext – and a false one at that.

God’s Appointed Leaders

God has not changed.  He also forbid Israel to test Him as in Deuteronomy 6:16 sayingDo not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.”  Earlier in Israel’s history, they tested God at Massah and Meribah when they said, because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not (Genesis 17:7).  Every time God is put to the test, it proves disastrous for Israel. In Genesis 17:3 they tested God by grumbling against their leader Moses, “But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?

Today when we speak evil of pastors, elders, deacons, or church leadership, we are testing God for whoever God has put into the Body of Christ as His leader, He did so intentionally.  When you grumble against church leadership, you are actually grumbling against God Himself.  Paul must have heard his fair share of grumbling against church leadership, including himself, and perhaps this is why he wrote a serious warning to the church at Corinth, And do not grumble, as some of them did–and were killed by the destroying angel (1 Corinthians 10:10). In Numbers 16:11 we see that It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?” Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea:  If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt” (Numers 16:28-30). Read all of Numbers chapter 16 and you will see how displeased or angry that God gets when He is tested and by grumbling against leadership; you grumbling against that man that God put into that position.  God warns us all throughout the entire Bible, Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm (Psalm 105:15).

Proving God is Not Testing God

In Malachi, many have the misconception that we can test God with our tithes and offerings as it is written, Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it (Malachi 3:10).  The better translations have it right as it should read, “Prove me now” instead of “test me in this.”  Besides, you can see by the context of Malachi chapter three that it is about trusting in God to provide for our needs when we are faithful and trusting in our giving to Him. Israel had been robbing God by withholding their offerings and wanted them to trust Him or prove that He would reward those who were faithful in their giving.

The example of Gideon putting out the fleece is not a good example to use that we can test God because God took the initiative in calling Gideon to do something for Him and not the other way around (Judges 6).  Gideon’s clan was the weakest in Israel, they were the smallest, and they were farmers and not skilled in war or battle-hardened like those who God asked Him to destroy.  Now if God comes down to speak to you in an audible voice and requires or asks of you something that seems impossible, then you can most certainly test Him but until that happens, I wouldn‘t recommend it.  The Bible is full of examples where God is angered when tested.  Why do we need to test God?  He is the Supreme Creator, the Maker of the Universe, and He is omnipotent (all-powerful).  God says,Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son (Genesis 18:14), For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37),   Paul understood that “God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:21). Job who went through the greatest trial of any (save what Jesus endured) and said, I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted” (Job 42:2).  So my question is why would we want to test God if nothing is impossible for Him?

Conclusion

Here is the greatest test of all.  Will you put your trust in God?  By trusting in Jesus Christ, you will be saved and receive eternal life.  Jesus says to those who have put their trust in Him, Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God’ believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).  Will He be coming back for you?  It is your time now, if you have not already done so, to put your trust in Him and believe in Him because He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this (John 11:25-26)?  I hope you will believe this. Jesus said it and since He is God, He can not lie (Hebrews 6:18).

Take a look at this list of related Bible verses:

Bible Verses About Trials

Resources – New International Version Bible, The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblca, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. YouTube video “Cleanse Me” by George Younce & Glen Payne.



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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Karl Larson April 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm

We must “feed on every Word of God”. Thank you for this reminder and a delicious meal!

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Jack Wellman April 20, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Thank you so much Mr. Larson. I think you are exactly right…we must feed on the Word daily…for who eats a meal once a week but sadly, many Christians never open their Bible except on Sunday at church. That is why they are spiritually famined people in the Body of Christ.

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C Mendoza April 20, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Great Word Jack. We live on this earth looking to get flying colors on a test for more money. Money can be easily burned and also us with it for living just for it. These test God gives can all be passed depending how smart we want to be. God can do all !!!!!!

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Jack Wellman April 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Thank you for your kind words my friend. Amen to God can do it all. I love your comment about money as you are spot on…it will all burn away like wood, hay, and stubble and only those things that can’t be shaken will pass thru the fire. May God richly bless you my friend.

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Jack April 21, 2013 at 4:27 am

Hello again, Pastor Jack! I have yet again another question, you know animals that only eat other animals? Well, in the Garden of Eden, before a certain man and woman brought sin into the universe, what did the carnivores eat back then if, ‘they were at peace with each other’? Thank you so much, Jack H

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Jack Wellman April 21, 2013 at 1:36 pm

I am not sure Jack. They may not have even been carnivorous before the fall. I can not say for sure though. Good question though my friend.

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Robert April 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Great article Jack,
I think it would help all Christians to look upon times of testing as times of spiritual growth. You have reminded me of this truth. Thank you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Robert April 23, 2013 at 3:38 pm

To the two Jacks (there’s a card joke there somewhere),
I think this verse may have the answer to the first Jack’s question about the menu of animals before the Fall, “And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so” (Genesis 1:30 ESV). The Bible indicates that both man and animal lived off plants before the Fall. Hope this helps. God bless you.
Yours in Christ,
Robert

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Jen April 24, 2013 at 8:35 am

Dear Jack, I found your website just before lunch today and here I am nearly 4 hours later still reading and thinking, totally absorbed.

I wonder if you can explain why God called Isaac Abraham’s ‘only son’ when he had another son by the slave, Hagar?

And now to continue reading. God bless you and the work you are doing. Jen

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Jack Wellman April 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Thank you for your question Jen. Truly Isaac was Abraham’s only son because Sarah pressured Abraham to have another child thru their handmaiden or bondwoman Hagar since Sarah thought they were getting too old to bear their own children and so Ishmael was not a legitimate marriage or child so the child illegitimate in God’s eyes and so truly, Isaac was his only son.

Abraham had Ishmael by the handmaiden Hagar. But Isaac was the child of promise, not Ishmael: “But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named,’” (Gen. 21:12). We must see things as God sees them and not thru our own eyes of understanding. Does this make sense Jen?

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David Bainito April 27, 2013 at 5:49 am

GOD BLESS U I AM REquesting 4 ur daily divotion.. Thank u man of God

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Jack Wellman April 27, 2013 at 11:57 am

Dear Mr. Bainito, please click on the link that says Sign Up for Free eBook” to get on our daily devotional site sir or this link might help:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/ebook-button.png

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David Bainito April 29, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Praise God man of God, i sincerely need a bible am requestin 4 one preferably Nkjv.. GOD BLESS AND KEEP U.

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Jack Wellman May 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Thank you Mr. Bainito. We do not have Bibles to give away. If you have the Internet, BibleGateway.com is a great site with all the Bible. Also visit this link for free Bibles at:http://www.freebibles.net/

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Patricia Schneider April 27, 2013 at 6:23 am

Good morning, Pastor Jack!
A brand new article from you popped up in emails today. Never really thought about “testing God.” Who would dare, seriously?
But throughout the years past, yes, I’ve wondered if the”bad times” weren’t “punishments from God.” Never even thought God was ‘testing our faith to see our faith grow.’ Thank Sweet Jesus’ Holy Spirit I know better now!

The words that struck my heart and mind dearly were from James 1:2-5, especially “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

For so long, Pastor Jack, I’ve felt like a “babe in the woods” when it came to understanding God’s Word, the Bible. (And trying to daily live by His Commands.) When I first discovered this site, WCWTK, back in late 2011/early 2012 (can’t recall exactly!) EVERYTHING I had learned and studied about Our Heavenly Father, His Son, Jesus, His Holy Spirit slowly became more concise. (If you remember, I had just come out of a 3 years depression?) Thanks to all these articles with Scripture passages, I returned to reading the Bible in earnest every day. (Still working on those ‘index cards’ you suggested? Tell you more ’bout that another time.)
The past month or so is when I noticed a profound difference within my spirit…those words from James 1:2-5, “mature and complete, not lacking anything” is EXACTLY what has happened within me, Pastor Jack! ‘Cause I DO believe that I’ve become a mature and complete Christian now. No longer a “babe in the woods.”
Oh, an AWESOME GOD WE HAVE LOVING US!!!

Thank you, Pastor Jack, for another enlightening article! (And yes, I know, the credit goes all to The Holy Spirit.)
Oodles of blessings for you and your family!
Always, in Christ, Jesus…Patty
P.S. Oh, forgot to ask…How does one KNOW if a Church leader is God’s Anointed One or a “false teacher or prophet?”

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Jack Wellman April 27, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Thank you Patty. Every Christian is anointed by the Holy Spirit, however God calls some to be a church leader, pastor, elder or deacon. You can tell that they are chosen if the uphold the veracity or truthfulness of the Bible, that is has no error, if they preach straight from the Bible and do not water it down, if they elevate and attempt to glorify Christ in services, and if the preach the need for repentance, confession to God, and there is salvation only in trusting Christ alone by grace alone in faith alone in Him alone (Acts 4:12, Acts 16:30-31). If any or most of these are missing, find another church!

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Patricia Schneider April 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Thanks so much, Pastor Jack! Will read up and study those passages from Acts 4:12, Acts 16:30-31. You DO have a terrific way of clarifying God’s Word for me, my dear brother in Christ…sooo happy God’s Holy Spirit sent me to you & WCWTK site!!!
PRAISE GOD FOREVER! Amen.
Always, in Christ, Jesus…Patty

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Jack Wellman April 27, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Oh that people would read so much of the comforting and reassuring Scriptures Patty. Another such favorite is Ephesians 2:4-9 which testifies to salvation is in Christ alone, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.”

Now if we stop sinning and never sin, then Christ didn’t need to die. One fellow told me in the church the reason that he left was because he didn’t like to be called a sinner. I said, “Then you are not a sinner?” He said, “Yes, I’m not a sinner anymore.” I said, “Then I am so sorry my friend…because then Christ didn’t die for you for He came to save sinners, of which even Paul testified that he is the chief.” The man never came back to our church. That’s okay. Church is not a mansion for saints but a hospital for the sick (as in sinners).

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Patricia Schneider April 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

AMEN!!!

Really liked that sentence, “Church is not a mansion for saints but a hospital for the sick (as in sinners.)”

Thanks, Pastor Jack!!

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Nicholas May 3, 2013 at 4:37 am

AS SOON AS I READ THE TITLE I THOUGHT OF MALACHI 3:10 , WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT , I THINK TOO OF HOW SOLOMON ASKED FOR WISDOM TO HELP THE PEOPLE AND GOD GAVE HIM SO MUCH MORE FOR HIS WAY OF THINKING , I THINK OF HOW GOD USED DAVID , THERE BEING THE TIMES AS OTHERS WHEN HE DIDN’T FIRST ASK FOR GOD’S GUIDANCE , AND LEARNED LESSONS , SO MANY TIMES WHEN GOD’S PEOPLE WOULD GO AND WORSHIP IDOLS , AND LEARN TO RETURN TO GOD . I GUESS OUR IDOLS NOW-A-DAYS ARE MATERIAL THINGS , AND THE LOVE OF MONEY ………

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xino November 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

i think you did not clearly explain the meaning to “testing God”.

“Why not? If we are testing God then we are showing a lack of trust in Him.”
How can we show lack of faith by believing his words?

Psalm 91 says he will send his angel to protect him so that his feet will not curb the ground.
Now if Jesus believed that verse that God would do it, he is putting his faith in that verse and in God, thus also testing him.

Another example.
If I was drinking tea at work and someone said “i will poison your tea, will you show me your god always protect you?”.
For me to agree and to drink the poison he poured in my tea to prove to him God will not let the poison harm me is clearly testing God.
Because why should I endanger myself just to prove to someone God is with me?

even though the Living Words of God says “no weapon shall form against me”.

so I ask you again: “what is testing God?”.
How can we put the words of God into action without testing God?

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Nicholas November 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm

above comment from xino —- are you getting at — Do not tempt the Lord thy God ?? , I can’t say I would be a snake handler , I think the point though is we are to trust in God , I say read the word , study it , pray about it , and try your best to follow it . I know one thing , my learning of the Bible is in no comparison to the writer — Pastor Jack , I know he will clarify himself

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