The Lord your God is testing you

“The LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3).

Our life is a testing-ground for eternity. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We need to examine ourselves.

In preparation for a test, students review their work and check their knowledge. We must examine ourselves to see whether we are meeting God’s expectations. “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the LORD” (Lamentations 3:40). “Let each one examine his own work” (Galatians 6:4). “Let a man examine himself” (1 Corinthians 11:28). “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.1 Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

To effectively examine ourselves, it is helpful to know how God has tested mankind through the ages so we can understand how He is testing us now.

God tests everyone, including the righteous.

“His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men. The LORD tests the righteous” (Psalm 11:4, 5).

Belshazzar, king of Babylon, was terrified when he saw the handwriting on the wall: “Mene, mene, tekel, uphasin.” Daniel explained that “tekel” meant, “You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting” (see Daniel 5:25-28).

The most severe tests in the Bible were experienced by men of faith. Abraham was asked to offer his son;2 Job lost his children, lost his possessions, and his body was covered “with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head”;3 Joseph4 was sold into slavery by his own brothers and was imprisoned unjustly because of his integrity; Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den for faithfully praying to God.

These servants of God were strengthened by the trials they endured, and became examples of faith for others to follow down through the ages.

God tests our hearts and minds.

“The righteous God tests the hearts and minds” (Psalm 7:9). “The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the hearts” (Proverbs 17:3).5

God explains: “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 17:10).

God tests our faith and love.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2, 3 NASB). When we remain faithful in spite of “various trials” it proves “the genuineness” of our faith (1 Peter 1:6, 7).

“The LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3).

Faith and love are tested by obedience.

Abraham was tested to know whether he feared God. “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham” (Genesis 22:1). After Abraham showed his willingness to offer Isaac, God said: “Now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me” (Genesis 22:12).

God gave the Sabbath command to test Israel. They were to gather manna on six days, but not on the seventh, “that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not” (Exodus 16:4).

Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15).

Faith and love are tested by hardship.

Israel was tested in the wilderness: “You shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:2, 3).6

Going through the Red Sea prefigured our baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1, 2). Entering the promised land prefigured our final rest (Hebrews 4:8-11). God tests us during our wanderings through the wilderness of this life.

God sometimes withdraws to test us.

Hezekiah, one of the most faithful kings of Judah, was tested in this way: “God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31).

Do you sometimes feel that God has forsaken you? He may be testing your faith and love. Remember that Jesus also felt forsaken by God when He was hanging on the cross for you (Matthew 27:46).

The Messiah refines His people by fire.

Referring to the promised Christ, God warned: “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap.7 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver” (Malachi 3:2, 3).8

Metals are purged and refined by fire to remove impurities. Silver melts at 962°C. Gold melts at 1064°C.

When I was thirteen our class visited the Kaiser Steel Mill at Fontana, California. I vividly remember the white-hot liquid metal flowing from the bottom of the blast furnace into moulds. Huge hammers pounded large, red-hot ingots into glowing flat slabs of steel that were then rolled under great pressure into sheets. Heat and pressure are required to produce steel sheeting from iron ore.

Heat and pressure of a different kind refine the people of God. “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).

Jesus himself “learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8) and His followers share in His suffering. “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12, 13).

Jesus comforted the believers at Smyrna: “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The fruitfulness of our faith is tested.

Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1, 2).

Notice that all branches are cut. The fruitless are chopped off, the fruitful are pruned.

Our work will be tested by fire.

Paul writes: “I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:10-13).

This does not refer to our own salvation9 but to God’s testing those we teach. How we preach and worship can influence the type of people we attract and whether we build with straw or with precious stones.

Apostate churches use worldly means to entice people, such as imposing buildings, pageantry with colorful costumes, and instrumental music.

Some congregations build with straw by using worldly attractions to entice people, for example, with what they call a “contemporary service” with loud instrumental music. One young woman, who had attended such a service at what once had been a church of Christ, said, “It was great! We were up dancing10 on the tables!”

Some use worldly allurements to attract people in the hope that eventually their attention might be redirected to spiritual things. But how spiritual is this approach? Can we picture Paul and Barnabas playing “Christian rock” to draw a crowd?

Jesus said: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32). Paul declared: “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

They who resort to worldly attractions lack faith in the drawing power of Christ and the gospel!

Entertainment attracts straw. Gold, silver and precious stones are harder to find, but they can withstand the fire. Hearts of gold are won when we exalt Christ and give them what they cannot find elsewhere, the undiluted and unadulterated doctrine of Christ.

False religions test us.

God allowed the surrounding heathen nations to test Israel: “Because this nation has transgressed My covenant which I commanded their fathers, and has not heeded My voice, I also will no longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left when he died, so that through them I may test Israel, whether they will keep the ways of the LORD, to walk in them as their fathers kept them, or not” (Judges 2:20-22).

In our time God allows denominations with their confusing, contradictory and unscriptural doctrines and practices to test our faith and love. Will we serve God simply as Christians, members of the one body, the church of Christ?11 Or do we prefer a denomination of human origin?

Miracles of false teachers test us.

To test people, God sometimes allows false teachers to perform wonders: “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ - which you have not known - ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).

People are tested now the same way. Jesus warned: “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Mark 13:22).12

Certain denominations use apparitions, wonders and signs to lead people astray. Two examples:

In 1858 a girl of 14 in Lourdes, France claimed that Mary had appeared to her in a cave. Since then this has been used to encourage people to worship an image, which is contrary to God’s word (Exodus 20:4; 1 Corinthians 10:14).

There are people who claim to speak in tongues, yet women lead in their assemblies, something forbidden by God (1 Corinthians 14:34, 37).

By signs and wonders people are tested to see whether they want to obey God’s word or follow their own feelings and emotions.

We are tested by division.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “First of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you” (1 Corinthians 11:18, 19).

Jesus prayed for unity (John 17:20-23) but not for unity at the expense of truth. He prayed for unity based on God’s word (John 17:14, 17). When division comes - caused by people who depart from the truth - this “parting of the ways” purges and purifies the church. The unfaithful are chopped off, the faithful are pruned, and those who are approved can be recognized.

What have we learned?

“The LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3).

We need to examine ourselves. God tests the hearts and minds of the righteous. He tests our faith and love by means of obedience and hardship. He sometimes withdraws to test us. The Messiah refines His people by fire. The fruitfulness of our faith and the quality of our work are tested. False religions, lying wonders and division test our respect for God’s word.

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15). Amen.

Roy Davison


1 To be “in the faith” is much more than merely believing that God exists. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6, 7). We are “in the faith” if we serve God according to the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 4).

2 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense” (Hebrews 11:17-19).

3 Job 2:7.

4 Referring to the trials of Joseph it is said, “The word of the LORD tested him” (Psalm 105:19; see verses 16-21).

5 David prayed: “I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness” (1 Chronicles 29:17). “Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my mind and my heart” (Psalm 26:2). Paul wrote: “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

6 Moses warned Israel not to forsake the Lord, “who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water; who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end” (Deuteronomy 8:15, 16).

7 Or “the lye soap of the fuller” referring to the cleansing and whitening of wool in preparation for cloth making.

8 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, against the Man who is My Companion,” says the LORD of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; then I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land,” says the LORD, “that two- thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it: I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God’” (Zechariah 13:7-9).

9 “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15).

10 This was said several years ago. Recently, on February 27 & 28, 2015, this congregation held “Daddy Daughter” dances costing $25 per dad and $5 per daughter (ages 4 through 12). “Come for dancing, dinner, dessert, carriage ride, photo booth, and crafts!” (downloaded on February 28, 2015 from

11 The church is the body of Christ (Colossians 1:24) and there is only “one body” (Ephesians 4:4).

12 Paul explained: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10).

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers, unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive