Tag Archives: Temptation

Judgment

Studies in Genesis 3

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15 ESV)

What does God mean when He uses the word “cursed”? To curse carries several implications. First, it is a judgment against someone who has violated an expectation or command. God cursed the serpent when He sentenced the Deceiver for tempting and enticing the woman to rebel. God’s curse is the sentence.

We know the curse, the judgment and sentence given to the serpent, was to crawl on its belly and eat dust.  If I am correct that there are physical representations of spiritual realities, then the curse of the serpent is a physical reminder of the judgment and sentence of that which inhabited the serpent. Serpents have not evolved out of their condition. God has not changed them. They have not sprouted legs or grown wings and feathers. God is in control and continually sends messages to those made in His image that His decree and judgment will not change because of circumstance.

The serpent could not repent. It is a beast created by God to fulfill its designated place in the order of the creation. Neither it nor the Deceiver when created were given the image of God. Man was given the image of God and made for intimate relationship with Him. God determined to make a way for Man to be reconciled to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. His judgment against the Deceiver points to this future event and reconciliation.

God turns, in a manner of speaking, from judging and sentencing the serpent, to judging and sentencing the Deceiver. Part of that judgment is the curse, the judgment and sentence, of enmity between the woman and the serpent. God puts enmity between the woman and the Deceiver, and between the offspring of the woman and the offspring of the Deceiver. Enmity means hatred. To put means to appoint and fix, to take a stand. God appointed a hatred between the woman and the serpent. This can be understood both immediately and in the future. Immediately, the woman loathed the serpent, and serpents in general. To see a serpent is a reminder of the lie of the Deceiver speaking though the snake. Is it fair to suggest this loathing has continued through the ages? Most women fear and loath snakes?

Hatred is a natural condition of the Deceiver. It hates God and everything created by God. It wants to destroy, compromise and corrupt everything God does. Contained in this curse, in the sentence against the Deceiver, is the ultimate prophecy of how God will execute judgment. When God declares how He will executes judgment, there is the hint of the means of reconciliation between God and, the now fallen away from God, Man.

Advertisements

Judgment

Studies in Genesis 3

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:14 ESV)

God immediately pronounces judgment and sentence upon the serpent. Yet, the serpent is only an animal, a creature of the earth. We do not know what the serpent looked like before the rebellion of the man and woman. God’s sentence suggests the serpent changed, its appearance becoming different. Perhaps it had legs and God took away those legs as part of the sentence. Making such an assumption is beyond the truths taught in Scripture.

When God pronounced judgment and sentence without questioning the serpent, and the Deceiver inhabiting the serpent, the implication was He already knew the Deceiver’s motive and personality. The Deceiver was created by God a spiritual being and had already rebelled against Him. God allowed it to tempt the man and woman as a test. It, the Deceiver, did not have the image of God, and therefore, did not have an intimate relationship with God. Still, the actions of the Deceiver in lying to the woman suggest prior rebellion against and hatred of God.

Scripture is filled with “types” or physical representations of spiritual realities. One example is relationship between the man and woman, a husband and wife, showing the mystical intimacy of the relationship between people and God. Another example is the relationship between parents and children. Children are subject to their parents just as people are subject to God. In the middle of the garden was the tree of Life. Jesus Christ is viewed as the tree of Life. Eating His flesh and drinking His blood brings life to those condemned to death because of sin (see John 6:53-58). This last example fills libraries.

God pronounces judgment and sentence upon the serpent. The serpent is a physical representative of a spiritual being. There is no evidence to suggest God created the serpent one way and then changed its physical appearance. Because of God’s omniscience, He knew (we have no evidence to suggest otherwise) the created serpent, in its current physical appearance, would be used by the Deceiver and consequently judged and sentenced by Him.

God’s judgment and sentence is toward the Deceiver, who inhabited the serpent in its quest to subvert and compromise God’s creation. It was the intent of the Deceiver to corrupt those created in the image of God. The temptation of the Deceiver against those created in God’s image, was focused upon God, and was the first shot in a war of rebellion. The Deceiver is fighting against God and those who are His in an all-out effort to destroy whatever it can with no hope or expectation of winning the war.

Deceived and Purposeful

Studies in Genesis 3

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Gen 3:6 ESV)

Adam was with his wife. She gave him a piece of fruit she had picked and eaten from, and he, too, ate the fruit. Did Adam watch the entire transaction and conversation between the Deceiver and Eve? Every sermon I have ever heard has Adam standing passively next to his wife while she deliberately disobeyed the command of God. Either he heard the discussion or Eve told him of the discussion. Or she didn’t tell him, because he was not there and simply offered him a piece of fruit when he arrived and he ate.

In Genesis 3:6 the word “with” can mean beside. It can also mean against and in spite of. Like many of the words in the first three chapters of Genesis this is the first time this word is used. We assume Adam and Eve were together all of the time. This does not necessarily have to be true. We can know for certain he was present when she gave him the fruit. Whether he was present during the discussion with the Deceiver and then when she actually picked and ate the fruit is only assumed.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse for disobedience. Adam knew he was to not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Either he ate knowing the fruit was from the tree or he ate not knowing from which tree the fruit came. Either way, he ate the fruit which God has specifically forbidden from eating.

Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. (1 Timothy 2:14 ESV)

There are many implications from Paul’s statement. The woman was deceived by the Deceiver. Adam was not deceived, by either the woman or the Deceiver. His rebellion was purposeful. He knew the consequences of his rebellion. We know nothing of his thinking or feeling which brought him to the action of eating the fruit. We are reminded daily of the consequences. For the consequences of Adam’s purposeful rebellion is abundantly clear and always present. It is sin and death.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12 ESV)

“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19 ESV)

Answer with Truth

Studies in Genesis 3

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3 ESV

When questioned by the serpent, or whatever was inhabiting the serpent, Eve responded with a vague half-truth. She did not identify the tree from which they were to not eat and she added to the command of God. When God gives an explicit command, we do not have the authority to alter His words into something vague and imprecise. Nor is it ever our place to speak for God by putting words in His mouth. Eve could have countered the deception of the serpent with the exact words of God.

Notice what Jesus does in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. When tempted and tested by the devil He does not respond in generalities but with the actual words of God.

Why is this important?

When we allow the thinking of our hearts about God and His commands to descend into generalities we open ourselves to believing compromise is essential and begin adding boundaries, exclusions and misinterpretations to what He said. We begin to believe He did not say what He really said. This gives us a false view of God and of ourselves in relation to Him. This would be like an “editor” randomly adding clarification to someone’s writing without knowing the person, what has already been said or agreeing with the message, working with the intent to steal the message away from the author and make it their own. God said “you shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13 ESV). This command has for some, morphed into not allowing justified killing of the criminal or killing during a justified war. The most prevalent use of compromising the word of God is the justification of murdering a baby in the womb because the baby is not considered a person. God’s words are twisted to fit our insane beliefs.

God is not mysterious and vague in His Words to Adam and Eve. He spoke to them directly, face to face. He embedded His image in them so they had the inherent tools and abilities needed to understand Him and intimately know Him. Having His image gave them an absolute advantage over every other physical or spiritual creature. Both the snake, a physical creature, and the spiritual being inhabiting the serpent were created by God. Eve had a conversation with a dumb, unable to speak, physical creature being used by a different, intelligent and morally compromised spiritual creature. Physical creatures are separated from physical creatures by flesh and blood and bone. It is possible a spiritual creature could inhabit, or take up residence, in a physical, as evidenced by Jesus confronting the myriad of demons who had taken possession of people. Adam and Eve had all they needed to know something was amiss and that whatever was in the serpent was not speaking the truth to them.

We do not know why Eve did not counter the lies of the serpent with the truth of God. We know that she did not specifically identify God’s true statement, and that she added to His words. The serpent set her up to fail, gambling that she would fail. She failed almost immediately.

Questioned by a Serpent

Studies in Genesis 3

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You   shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV

This is a test. God is testing Eve. This is also a test for Adam. God is in absolute control. He has shown His control in creating everything according to His divine will and judgment. Yet, He is allowing the serpent, or whatever is in the serpent, to test the obedience of the woman and then the man. Since Eve has no experience with rebellion or disobedience how could she know she was being tested? When does a test become temptation?

The word “temptation” (nâsâh) is not used in this verse. Temptation, or putting to the proof, was not always viewed in Scripture as a negative occurrence, but more neutral in concept. Such testing was used to discover the purity, validity or integrity of a thing or person, such as purity of a metal like gold, or the people of God when He led them out of Egypt. People were tested to discover what they knew, what they could do, but more to show what they did not know and needed to learn, or what they could not do so they could learn. That which is lesser cannot test that which is greater. It is the greater, the authority or owner, who tests those owned or under their authority. No man has the right to test God but God has full authority to test and prove man.

Under this circumstance, the serpent does not test Eve. God tests Eve. God uses the serpent, and whatever is in it, to show what is in Eve, and ultimately, in Adam. Did Eve truly understand the command of God to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Eve’s response to the serpent’s question begins to reveal her ability to reason, decide an action and draw a conclusion. However, it is the serpent’s question that reveals it, or what is in it, is not good but somehow corrupted.

“Did God actually say ‘You  shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

God created Eve from a piece of Adam. It was to Adam God spoke the command and prohibition. Adam would have to tell her what God said for her to know. Had the serpent spoken this question to Adam he could have given a definitive answer. Adam could have said “no, that is not what God said. He said ‘do not eat from the tree of the knowledge if good and evil. The tree in the middle of the garden next to the tree of life. We eat from every other tree there is.” But the serpent questioned Eve.

By implication the serpent was suggesting to Eve that since she was not around to actually hear God’s commands she could not know exactly what He said. Nor could she trust Adam to communicate accurately the words of God. Her authorities, God and the first man, were questioned over their position of authority and the intent of their relationship with her.

Testing Love for God

Rebellion begins when we listen to a lie and believe it is truth and then repeat it as truth. We do this because we do not test the lie against truth, or better, allow truth to expose the lie.

When Eve spoke with the Serpent she heard what he asked “did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” [Genesis 3:1 ESV]. Instead of answering his lie with the truth she answered by adding to the truth her own lie. She told the Serpent God did not want them to touch the fruit of the forbidden tree. God told tem to not eat. He did not prohibit touch. I believe Adam was standing there listening to the exchange. I have no evidence for this other than she ate then gave to him. In either case he witnessed her eating the forbidden and then himself ate.

These two are intelligent, morally straight servants of God with dominion over the earth. What could possibly influence them to believe a lie and not the truth? Inexperience? Forgetfulness? Perhaps they had never heard a lie before.  Why would any created by God, who cannot lie, not tell the truth? Why would they lie to themselves? Why would the set a boundary so they wouldn’t even be tempted? Maybe they didn’t understand the boundary God set for them. In any case, Eve added to the truth her own brand of lie and Adam did not stop or reason with her.

Notice the progression of events as the Serpent piles one lie onto another. Notice the thinking of the heart of Eve.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.

For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened,

and you will be like God,

knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,

and that it was a delight to the eyes,

and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,

she took of its fruit and ate,

and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,

and he ate. [Genesis 3:1-6 ESV]

The serpent lied when he told them they would not die. In fact, he called God a liar. He attributed to God a personality and characteristic which was not true. He said God did not want them to be like Him, even though God made them in His image. God did tell them to not eat from the tree because He did not want them to know good and evil.  The serpent suggested to them that knowing good and evil was desirable and powerful and a way for them to emulate the One who created them. They were His children and children do want to be like their parents.

God allowed the Serpent, Satan in a skin, to tempt Adam and Eve. He knew they had already added their lie to His truth and He did not stop them or the Serpent.

Satan had already fallen and been ejected from the Presence. He had already shown his disdain and hatred for God. God uses him, the fallen one, to test those He loves, beginning with Adam and Eve and extending to all people. He tests people’s love for Him. We cannot force anyone to love us but know when they do and when they do not. God will not force us to love Him but will strengthen our love for Him once we recognize its truth.

Now, notice the progression of thought in 1 John 2:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

For all that is in the world —

the desires of the flesh

and the desires of the eyes

and pride in possessions

— is not from the Father but is from the world.

And the world is passing away along with its desires,

but whoever does the will of God abides forever. [1John 2:15-17 ESV]

God showed His love for us through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, whose blood covered our sin. When we see the extent of His love for us, recognize it and realize the consequences of it, we begin an intimate relationship with Him. Our relationship with Him grows as we fight and struggle to control sin. We have His strength in us under His control used by us for Him, to show our love for Him.

If we love anything in this world we do not love God. He tests us asking bluntly if we love Him more than we love the world. We must answer honestly and realize and recognize how strong is the tug and pull of the world, our own flesh and the lies of Satan. We cannot control the world and Satan. We do have, with God’s strength, the tools needed to fight and overcome our flesh.

We must not add to God’s truth our lies or the lies of the world. The only way to purge the lie is to have an intimate relationship with Truth.

Salt of the Earth

You are the salt of the earth… [Matthew 5:13 ESV]

This verse is a warning.

Throughout the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warns those who say they are His but are not. His first seven statements contain warnings. If you are this way you are blessed. Conversely, if you are not this way you are not blessed. You are rejected or cursed. His warnings are subtle, easily missed by those who cannot hear or who cannot see because their ears are stopped and their eyes closed. To those who are His, who through the indwelling Spirit are changed from slavery to sin to covered with His righteousness, the warnings are readily apparent. Here is the heart of the matter. There are those who are His and those who are not, yet claim to be.

Jesus uses an analogy to describe the essential evidence of those who are His. They are His, being recreated and made into His image, to the core of their eternal being.  Philippians 2:6-7 says Jesus has the form (morphe, that which makes something what it is) of God and a Servant, man as he was originally created, before the fall. So the Christian has the morphe of the true citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Just as the essence, the morphe, of salt is salt so the essence of the citizen of God’s kingdom is righteousness. Everything Jesus has said to this point, and continuing on, is the evidence of the righteousness of God working itself into the being of those who belong to God.

Jesus is speaking to the vital, eternal being of the Christian. He has defined that being in the first seven statements of this teaching. Christians are all of these things.  Just as salt has specific evidences of its presence so to the Christian exhibits the characteristics of a regenerated, changed, person.

Salt of the ancient world is quite different from the modern, processed and refined salt found on store shelves. Not that salt itself is different but the level of purity is considerably refined more now than it was then. It was hard to remove all the impurities from the salt of Jesus’ day. So too, it was easy to add impurity to salt through everyday living. It was not uncommon for the salt in “salt” to leech away leaving only the impurities. God refines the Christian, through conviction and persecution, removing the impurities and leaving just salt, something universally useful and necessary.

We are God’s righteousness in a world dominated by unrighteousness. Everyone knows the difference between right and wrong. We all have a witness, in ourselves, of the implications of the moral law of God. While many can, through sheer will power, live up to the outward standards which define the moral laws only those changed, recreated and filled with the Spirit of God, can live, as an essential part of their being, His moral law. His indwelling Spirit does not preclude temptation and sin but guarantees our place in eternity in spite of our surroundings and failures. God strategically places us to grow us and convict those in the world. The more we wrestle with sin, fine tuning our understanding and living of righteousness, the more effective we become as His witnesses, the less we will compromise who we are for what the world is. We leave the world behind and, used by God, draw those He is calling into His kingdom.

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. [1 Peter 3:14-16 ESV]

Our lives, the deepest essence of our being, the morphe of the citizen of His kingdom, exposes His righteousness, His glory, His being, which impacts everything we do and everyone we meet.