How Tests And Trials Separate The Chaff From The Wheat

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Trials and tests come into everyone’s life, but for those who profess Christ, tests and trials can separate the chaff from the wheat.


A faith that’s not tested is a faith that’s not trusted. We test drive cars, we try out sunglasses, and generally look over a product before buying it, and so God also tests our faith at times. To begin with, all who profess Christ will go through tests and trials; only those who remain actually possess Christ (more on this later), but God does not test our faith so He can find out how weak or strong it is; He already knows…He is omniscient. He tests our faith so that we’ll know how weak or strong it is. We’ll find out if it’s real, genuine saving faith in Christ not. James says “that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:3-4).

Without these tests, we may lack God’s perfecting us and completing us. The word “perfect” is closer to “mature” than it is to perfection since none of us can claim to be perfect (Rom 3:10-12, 23), but tests perfect our faith. A tested faith generally ends up as a stronger faith. A broken bone is more than twice as hard to break in that same spot again; a scar is five times more resistant to being cut in that same place than skin with no scars, so what breaks us or cuts us, makes us stronger in the end. God may not take us over the storm, around the storm, or even under the storm….but He promises to go with us through the storm.


The Apostle Paul knew that trials can work good in us. He had been “serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews” (Acts 20:19), but that didn’t stop him from his mission to share Christ. If you have repented and trusted in Christ, you are either in a trial, have just came through a trial, or are getting ready to go through one, but take heart. The Apostle Peter said that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (2 Pet 2:9). Read that again; God “knows how to rescue the godly from trials” and He knows how “to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,” so these are not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill trials. They are the trials endured by “the godly,” intended for “the godly.”

Chaff in the Wind

When they separate the wheat from the chaff, they used to toss it into the air after the harvest and the wind would blow the chaff away. Only the wheat remained and would fall to the ground as it was too heavy to be carried away by the wind. Sometimes the storms of life do that too. They can separate the false converts from the Body of Christ. Trials can either make us better or they can make us bitter, but those who persevere to the end are those who are the saved (Matt 24:13). In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower, He said that the seed, which is the Word of God, will take root for some, but for many it will not. For example, there are those that received the Word gladly but fell away because of troubles that came. For them, this was the seed that “was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful” (Matt 13:22).


Someone might come in to the church and claim to trust in Christ, and even get baptized, but when tests and trials come, they bail out, and by doing so, they show that they were never truly converted. Only those who endure the trials and tests and do not turn away or shake their fist at God are proven to be the faithful. The Apostle John addresses those who came for a time but did not remain with them. He says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19), so if they had remained in the Body of Christ, they would show that they were actually part of the Body of Christ. James says, “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” (James 1:12).

The Harvest

Only after the harvest can the chaff be removed from the wheat. You can’t rip up the cheat from the wheat, lest you also rip up some of the genuine wheat. Jesus once spoke of the enemy sowing weeds into the seed and when his servants came to inquire as to whether they should uproot the weeds, Jesus said, “lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them” (Matt 13:29). Clearly, we cannot know whether a person is genuinely saved or not. Appearances can be deceiving, plus the fact that each person is on a different path; they may take longer to overcome sins than others. God Himself will separate the chaff from the wheat, but that only comes at the harvest, or the judgment of mankind. At that time, they will “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt 13:30).


David wrote that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19), so there will be many, and not just a few. That means we must expect them and not be surprised by suffering. Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Occasionally, these trials serve to be “training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:12). The truth is, it is “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The good news out of the bad things that happen is, “you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world,” and so can you.

Here is some related reading for you: How to Endure the Trials of Life

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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