The New Testament truth about times of testing for God’s people is not entirely different from that of the Old Testament. James writes:
“2Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” – James 1.2-4
I recall my Biblical Counseling professor once using the following illustration to explain this point. Our hearts are like a saturated sponge sitting on the kitchen counter. From the outside, the contents of the sponge are not necessarily evident. But, when given the slightest amount of pressure, that which is absorbed within the sponge quickly comes gushing out all over the countertop. In times of testing, God applies a sort of “divine pressure” to allow the sin within our hearts (which would otherwise remain hidden beneath the surface) to come gushing forth. Once brought to light, we are then presented with the opportunity to deal with it biblically.
God’s grace and mercy abounds in light of such a reality! He has made provision for our sins (not only through the atoning sacrifice of the spotless Lamb of God, but) through the truth revealed by the apostle John:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1.9
We only need to acknowledge our sin before the Lord and affirm His just condemnation of it. Then, look to the cross of Christ where the debt of that sin was paid in full. With hearts overflowing with gratitude for the price that was paid on our behalf, we simply need to forsake that sin by the power of the Spirit, Who promises that God will aid us in this process as He cleanses us “from all unrighteousness.” As we undergo this process, we will be further conformed to the image of our great Savior and better equipped to glorify God during the next trial or test that comes our way. What grace! What mercy! What a God!
So, how about you? When you feel “divine pressure” during times of testing, what does God reveal to you about your heart? What sins seem to gush out? What cravings seem to come back the strongest? What lusts seem to take over? What idols do you tend to cling to? What sins seem to you ensnare you?
We all have sin tucked away somewhere that we don’t even like to acknowledge to ourselves (it tends to assault our pride and sense of self-righteousness). But, if nothing comes to mind as you ponder the above stated questions, then praise God that He has chosen to guard you from seeing the reality of your depravity for now. However, should your conscience speak out against you, then run to the cross, my dear friend. Confess your sin to the Savior and praise Him for the price He has paid to cover it. Then, cling to His promise of cleansing and beg Him for the grace to repent of it!