By Francis Frangipane
Prior to releasing a new product to the general public manufacturers put their invention through a series of tests to see how their product handles stress and other issues. Typically, they will test their product in a smaller control group before presenting it the general public. This time of testing is sometimes called “beta.” It means it’s still being tested repeatedly for effectiveness and functionality. Did it do what they projected it to do? Manufacturers don’t want to spend a fortune in promotion without knowing their product will work outside the lab. They test it under stressed conditions. Once it passes the tests, then it is released.
A New Creation
God has a new product in mind. At the end of the age He intends to reveal a new species of man, a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). The new man comes equipped with a Christlike heart, a heavenly mind and an eternal spirit. For now, however, the new man still looks like the old man and prior to releasing the new man we will face levels of testing. The more tests we pass, the more God releases us to the general public.
Right now, I would say most of us are in the “beta” stage. God is testing us to see if we can keep our hearts from bitterness or anger. Do we keep the faith even when we go through times of darkness or fear? The Lord desires to see how well we abide in Him when we are outside of church (the “lab”). These small test groups may consist of co-workers or church folks; they may be family members or neighbors. Are we maintaining the fruit of the Spirit?
It is also important to note that when God tests us, He does not descend into our thought-life with a loud public announcement, warning, “This is a test. This is only a test.” A true test examines what we are like under stress and in real life conditions; it appears in our lives without forewarning that it is coming. You see, God isn’t testing how well we can outwardly look “Christian.” He is examining the quality of what we actually are inwardly. Even more than possessing right answers, He desires we possess right attitudes and responses. He wants to know if we can function under adverse conditions, spiritual warfare and stress.
Let us underscore this truth about God: He will test the quality of His work in us. Remember the Lord’s conversation with Satan? God asked, “Have you considered My servant Job?” The Lord described Job as being unique in all the earth: “a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:8).
The implication in that question, “have you considered . . . Job,” is that God had worked some deep things in Job and now it was time for this inner transformation to be tested.
Let us also note that Satan had “considered” Job. He had a dossier on him filled with information. When Satan sought to attack Job, the devil couldn’t get near him. God had placed “a hedge about [Job] and his house and all that he has, on every side.” Probably for many years Satan had examined Job but couldn’t touch him because of the impenetrable protection Job and his family enjoyed. For all the devil tried to do to stop it, God had “blessed the work of [Job’s] hands, and his possessions have increased in the land” (vs 10).
Yes, Satan had “considered” Job. We too would do well to consider the story of Job and the revelation it provides us concerning our tests and their outcome. If we walk with God in integrity and intercession, as did Job, we can trust that the normal status of our lives will be completely protected and hedged “on every side.”
The second thing we should recognize is that if we do come under severe spiritual attack, it is because God is testing the quality of His work in us. He knows the capacity to overcome is within us, otherwise He would not have allowed the enemy access to us.
The third thing to note is that, while tests in the world are usually accomplished in labs or controlled environments, God’s tests come in the real world. Thus, we might not realize that what we are going through is a “test,” for the test will be a real life experience.
Additionally, the test often comes just before we are released into a “double portion,” which is what happened to Job.
We often won’t know what the test is until much later. Job’s test was not whether he would “rejoice always” or maintain his good works; nor was he made vulnerable because of fear or unbelief, as some think. The great test in Job’s life was whether or not he would curse God. For all he went through, Job passed his test.
The Outcome Is Greater Than We Can Imagine
God took Job, the most righteous man in the world, a man of great influence, and brought him through a terrible test. One might say the costs of Job’s test far outweighed his reward, even though Job did receive a double portion. Yes, Job’s wealth and influence increased greatly, but that was not the end of the story: God has since used the life of Job as an example for billions of people. Before the test, Job’s range of influence touched his culture; afterward, Job’s integrity has inspired nations throughout the epochs of time.
Likewise, the Lord tested Joseph, Moses and David; He tested Israel in the wilderness. Jesus Himself endured tests, not the least of which was His time in the desert.
Let us understand, if we want to advance spiritually, God will lead us through fiery ordeals that test us yet bring us through to a greater place. Most of us are still in “beta,’ being tested in relatively small ways. Still others have gone through significant battles, but God is about to bring many into a double portion.
For us who are followers of Christ and whose goal is conformity to Him, God gives us one answer to every test we experience: become like Jesus in the test. When the devil realizes what he is using hoping to destroy you is actually being used by God to perfect you, Satan will withdraw his attack.
As it is written:
“For You have tried us, O God; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid an oppressive burden upon our loins. You made men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water, yet You brought us out into a place of abundance” (Psalm 66:10-12).
The test is the door to abundance.