I do not mean that Christians who fall back into old sins and turn back to the world are being tested. No, those believers face a shipwreck of faith.

But Peter warned, “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). Peter is warning believers who are growing in holiness and are set on following the Lord.

Some of you may have taken a fall in spite of all the progress you’ve made with the Lord. If I asked you what caused your fall, you might answer, “Brother Dave, it was a fit of anger. I was provoked by my own family and I blew up. I can’t understand it. I thought I was becoming a little sweeter, a little more like Jesus. But somebody just pushed the wrong button and I lost it.” You may say, “I’m only human. How much am I supposed to take?”

It does not matter that you were provoked or even that you were in the right. The provoking simply proved you need deliverance. Scripture says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor [fighting], and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice [grudges]” (Ephesians 4:31).

God is going to keep testing you until you say, “I’ve got a spirit in me that’s got to go.” You will see no growth in Christ, no peace at home or on the job, until you can say, “You’re right, Lord—take it out!”

If you’re being tested in this area, or any other area for that matter, you may be thinking, “I feel so unworthy. How much ground have I lost? Does the Lord still love me?”

Dear saint, if you have truly repented, you haven’t lost any ground whatsoever. God puts his loving arms around you and says, “I allowed that to happen so you would see what’s in your heart. But you’re making progress. You’ve said you want to walk with me, and I’m teaching you. I know what’s inside of you and I’ll allow you to be provoked until you get rid of it all.”

Are you being tested? If so, just pray: “Lord, you’ve put your finger on some areas in me. Pluck them out of my heart. Encourage me, Lord, that I’m not going backward—I’m going forward with you!”