7 min 2 mths

8.3 The Lord’s Test

Read Psalm 81:8–9; 95:7–11, and 105:17–22. What does divine testing entail in these verses?

In the given Bible verses, we find various examples of divine testing that illuminate a central aspect of faith and the relationship between God and His people.
In Psalm 81:8–9 and 95:7–11, reference is made to the event at Meribah, where the people of Israel tested God by doubting His faithfulness and power. This episode illustrates how human disobedience and doubt can strain the relationship with God. Although the people did not pass God’s test, God continues to show His grace and help, even when they are in trouble. This underscores the importance of trust and obedience to God in seeking His guidance and assistance.
Psalm 105:17–22 sheds light on a different type of divine testing, illustrated by the example of Joseph. Here, it becomes clear that God’s tests serve to strengthen and purify faith. Joseph’s trust in God’s promises was tested, but through the trial, his faith was cleansed and strengthened. This shows that God’s intention behind trials often lies in preparing us for the fulfillment of His promises and strengthening our faith.
It is important to emphasize that divine tests are not meant to punish us, but rather to shape and strengthen us. Through trials, we learn to trust our faith and rely on God’s guidance. However, persistent disobedience and doubt can lead to hardening of the heart and impair our relationship with God.
Ellen White highlights an important aspect in her quote from the “Testimonies for the Church”: Rejecting God’s instruction can not only harden the heart and conscience but also influence and corrupt the faith of others. This underscores the serious consequences of disobedience and doubt towards God.
Overall, these Bible passages show that divine tests play an important role in the life of a believer by strengthening faith, solidifying trust in God, and preparing us for the fulfillment of His promises. It is therefore crucial that we recognize the lessons from these trials and strengthen our faith through obedience and trust in God.

What experiences have you had with how sin hardens the heart? Why should this thought drive us to the cross, where we can find the power for obedience?

Experience shows that sin can harden the heart by initiating a gradual process of habituation and desensitization. If someone repeatedly violates God’s commandments or consciously persists in sinful behavior, this can lead to the dulling of the conscience and insensitivity of the heart to God’s voice. This process can result in a person becoming increasingly less receptive to the convincing power of the Holy Spirit and instead remaining in a state of spiritual numbness.
Sin can also lead to a state of self-righteousness, where a person elevates themselves above God and sets their own judgment above divine law. This leads to a hardening of the heart towards the truth and love of God.
The thought that sin hardens the heart should drive us to the cross because it is at the cross that we find the solution to our sins. Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins, offers us forgiveness, healing, and liberation from the power of sin. Through His sacrificial death on the cross, He opens the way for us to reconcile with God and renew our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
By coming to the cross and confessing our sins, we can find the power for obedience that we need to lead a life that pleases God. Through faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of His grace, we can open our hearts again to the love of God and overcome the hardening influences of sin.

 

The connection between the hardening of the heart by sin and our everyday life in faith is extremely significant and present in many aspects of our daily lives.
  1. Decisions and Behavior: In our daily lives, we face countless decisions that influence our relationship with God and other people. If our heart is hardened by sin, we may tend to make decisions that align with our own selfish desires and needs, rather than following God’s will. Our actions and behavior may be characterized by selfishness, greed, pride, and other sinful inclinations, leading us away from God’s commandments.
  2. Relationships: The hardening of the heart can also affect our interpersonal relationships. If we are hardened by sin, we may struggle to show love, forgiveness, and compassion. Our relationships may be characterized by mistrust, hostility, and unforgiveness, leading to conflicts and separations.
  3. Spiritual Growth: The hardening of the heart can also hinder our spiritual growth and closeness to God. If we are blinded by sin, we may struggle to hear God’s voice and recognize His guidance in our lives. Our prayer time and Bible reading may become superficial, and we may isolate ourselves from fellowship with other believers.
  4. Mercy and Grace: The realization that sin hardens the heart should lead us to appreciate even more the mercy and grace of God. We should be humble and recognize that we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. This should lead us to a life of gratitude and dedication to God, as we strive to live according to His will and free ourselves from the power of sin.
Overall, the connection between the hardening of the heart by sin and our everyday life in faith underscores the need for a constant struggle against sinful inclinations in our lives and a continuous pursuit of a deeper relationship with God and a life that aligns with His will.

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