Re: Aren’t Trials for Growth and Proving? Yes, God sees us as perfect, whole and healthy. But are we? Are we all as loving as we should be? Are we all in perfect health? No, God’s facts in the Bible (you have been perfected, you have been healed) must become a reality in our experience. This process is known as sanctification, because God’s purpose with our lives is to change us to become like Jesus in every way (Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4-5, 2:10).
For this reason James could write: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete (perfect), not lacking anything” (1:2-4).
Following that logic, we’d all have to become perfect during our lifetime. If that’s the case, history would conclude that God has never succeeded. To be sanctified is to be made holy or consecrated. It’s not something we do, but is something that’s done to us. In 1 Cor. 6:11 Paul said when we became believers we were washed, we were sanctified and we were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God.
In Romans 8:29 Paul was referring to our state at the completion of the 5 steps enumerated in verses 29-30. He foreknew, predestined, called, justified and glorified us and at that point we will have been conformed to the image of His son. Regarding Ephesians 1:4-5, to be holy and blameless in His sight is to accept the Lord’s death as payment in full for all our sins. We know this because in Ephesians 5:25-27 Paul said the Lord made us this way by giving Himself up for us.
James 1:2-4 doesn’t say that God sends these trials of many kinds to help us grow. He was writing to Jewish believers who were experiencing persecution at the hands of the Jewish leadership. Israel had officially rejected the Messiah and the leaders were incensed that some of their own people were disobeying them by accepting Him. It was not a case of God testing believers to make them more worthy, because nothing could make them more worthy than the Lord’s sacrifice on their behalf. It was a case of Satan, working through the Jewish leaders, trying to destroy their faith. Since a believer’s faith can’t be destroyed they could face these attempts with joy, knowing the outcome in advance. This principle applies to believers today as well.
When Jesus warned us that in this world we would have trials but to take heart because He has overcome the world (John 16:33), I don’t think He was talking about sending us trials. I think He was telling us the world is an evil place.