QUESTION: What does it mean to put the Lord our God to test? In Matthew 4:7 and Deuteronomy 6:16 it is said do not put the Lord God to the test (NIV) and in Malachi 3:10 the Lords says, “Test me in this.”


ANSWER: That is an excellent question, for on the surface it might SEEM to be a contradiction, and yet we know that Scripture NEVER contradicts itself.  The word “test” in all three verses has the same meaning, which is, “to examine, prove, try,” but we shall see that it is the CONTEXT in which the word is found that determines if we should or shouldn’t “put the Lord our God to the test.”

Let’s read Matthew 4:7, where the Lord Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6:16, “Jesus said unto him, On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the LORD your God to the test’.” (NASB) The Lord Jesus is speaking to the Devil who had taken Him up to the edge of the temple and tempted Him with these words in verse 6, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, so that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.” Satan was quoting Psalm 91:11-12 and he purposely left out four important words, “in all Your ways,” which means God’s promise of protection to His Son was conditional upon Him being in the will of God. It would have been wrong for the Lord Jesus to jump off the temple and expect God to honor His promise to preserve Him, for GOD HAD NOT TOLD HIM TO DO IT! In other words, Jesus would have been acting contrary to God’s will, and thus He could NOT claim God’s promise in an act of disobedience. In this case it would have been WRONG to “to test God’s faithfulness” to His promise.

Now let’s read Malachi 3:10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and TEST ME NOW IN THIS, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows” (NASB). Here we see a case where THE LORD IS TELLING ISRAEL WHAT TO DO, and the Lord promises them that He will bless them if they act on His word. When He adds the words “test Me now in this,” He is encouraging them to “prove His faithfulness to His promise.” In this case it would have been RIGHT to “to test God’s faithfulness” to His promise.

The lesson in this is simple and clear. God is faithful to His word and He will always invite His children to “put Him to the test” as long as they are acting in obedience. When they do, He will indeed bless them and they will have PROVED His faithfulness. But He would never encourage us to “put Him to the test” if we try to claim a promise from His Word while acting in disobedience to His Word.  (197.3)  (DO)