Is The Christian Life Really All About Passing Tests?

Is The Christian Life All About Passing Tests?

If So, Maybe I’m Ready To Turn In My Answer Sheet And Just Take A Failing Grade

For many years, I thought the Christian life worked like this.

  • You are born spiritually blind.
  • Somehow you get your spiritual sight.
  • Somehow you get your faith.
  • Then for the rest of your life, your faith is tested through trials.
  • These tests determine your eternal destiny.

Life is a big series of tests, and those tests are graded. You have to use your faith to pass your life tests, just like you have to use your knowledge to pass your school tests. If you fail a life test, you need more faith.

Now after what feels like way too many years, I’m not so sure about all of that.

Yes, James wrote about the trying of our faith being good for us. (James 1:3) But is that all this is about?

Yes, Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13) Yes, Jesus passed those tests.

But was His life…and is my life…really only about passing tests? If not, what then?

Honestly, I’m weary from taking tests.

From the very beginning of the Bible, it looks like life is all about taking tests. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was a one-question test. We see the results. Their first-born son, Cain, had a one-question test too. God even told him how to pass the test, and yet he failed. [1]

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:7 KJV)

In other words, God said to Cain before he killed Abel, his younger brother, “Sin is trying to get you, but you can rule over sin.”

This has always perplexed me.

We’ve been taught how Jesus made us free from the power of sin and death. Through the Holy Spirit, we can resist the temptation to sin. But God is saying this to Cain before Jesus was born and before the Holy Spirit was given to believers in Jesus.[2]

It does sound as if God is saying to Cain, “You can actually do this on your own power.” But doesn’t that make the Cross of Christ unnecessary? And if so, wouldn’t Christ have suffered and died in vain? (Galatians 2:21)

These tests that I’m writing about aren’t ones like “Should I kill my brother?”

That is a relatively easy test, except Jesus took that test to a whole new level. [3] He said just being angry at someone and calling them names is the same as murdering them in your heart. (Matthew 5:21-22)

So I’m wondering if this is the kind of thing Jesus was talking about when He said, “You can do nothing without me”? (John 15:5) I can’t change my heart on my own. If I can do nothing without Jesus, what is the something I can do with Jesus?

What if there really is only one big test, not a series of little tests? If there really is only one big test, maybe it has only ONE BIG QUESTION.

What is the “something” I can do with Jesus?

That wouldn’t be such a bad test to take over and over again since I’m not doing it all on my own but with Jesus.

Is The Christian Life All About Passing Tests?

Footnotes and other not necessarily important items…

[1] To me, it’s not important to debate whether these were actual biographical accounts of real people or mythical accounts created and refined over time. Either way, I believe these stories reveal truths about the human condition. It would be unwise to dismiss the underlying truths simply because one believed the story itself is purely fiction.

[2] An idea came to me while pondering the words of God to Cain before posting this. I will give this more thought and hopefully will be able to share soon.

[3] Actually Jesus took just about every major test to a whole new level. I think this is mainly to emphasize none of us can pass life’s tests and achieve righteousness on our own.