Tag Archives: Temptation

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.

The Illogic of Persecution

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead. I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. [Romans 7:7-12 ESV]

What is it about righteousness which inspires the non-Christian to such hatred? Ultimately, it is the Law of God and the eternal character of God behind the Law which drives the unrighteous to such extremes. Without the Law there would be no standard to judge, convict and sentence. Do you remember the temptation of the first sin?

“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 3:5-6 ESV]

Eve, and Adam, were tempt with equality with God, thus not needing God. If I do not need God and am capable of making my own decisions, according to the wisdom found within me, then I certainly cannot allow God, formerly my owner, to control or judge my words, attitudes and actions. Rejecting God does not steal any of His position and power away from Him. Rejecting Him does leave us with the inner bent, the attitude and motivation to ignore Him. When He cannot be ignored we become fearful and angry, motivated to destroy the thing which makes us both fearful and angry. Since we cannot destroy God or the Law which judges us we are left with the desire to destroy those who represent God and His Law.

Pay attention. It is not that we keep the Law and are therefore righteous. We do not keep the Law. We are as sinful as any in the world. Christians have recognized their sin, accepting the truth of its existence, of its reality, and of its devastating consequences. We know intimately the price paid by Christ to redeem us from the slavery of sin, that we do not deserve God’s mercy and love. We acknowledge God’s justice, according to His Law, and His absolute right to exercise judgment, condemnation and sentence against any and all who violate His Law. Upon Jesus’ shoulders was placed our sin and He bore the justified consequences of our rebellion.  He took our sin and gave us, as a gift, His righteousness. His righteousness was credited to us, not earned or purchased or acquired in any other way. We are not righteous because we keep any of the Law. We are righteous because He kept all of the Law. Like Abraham, we believe God, take Him at His word, and are declared righteous before Him.

It is the Law, the very eternal character of God represented by the Law, which inspires such violence and hatred by those rebelling against the Author of the Law and the Creator of those made in His image.

As God works in the Christian, building the image and likeness of His Son into those who are His, the Christian slowly, with great effort and discipline, exhibits to the world the evidence of God’s righteousness. As He purges sin from us, preparing us for eternity with Him, He uses us as a witness to the world. By living righteous lives, motivated by the Spirit of God in us, we live out the Law without becoming legalistic and convict those around us of their sin and Lawlessness. Some will see, be convicted and repent, drawn to God by His desire for them. All of the others, refusing to see the truth of their rebellion against God, will seek to silence the attitudes, words and actions of those declared righteous by God.

Persecution will come, not because of our righteousness but because of Christ’s righteousness in us. To understand this better, I am going to try to examine the Law, the Ten Commandments, to understand how the Christian keeps them and why the world hates them.

Sanctuary

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace. [Ephesians 2:13-14 ESV]

In Scripture, a sanctuary is a place where God dwells.

We have made sanctuaries less divine and more anthropocentric (man centered). Like a garden, a sanctuary is a place where there is peace from the wars of the world in which we live. Sanctuaries have become places where man may visit, but may not stay and may not bring weapons or tools of destruction. Sanctuaries are places where men may run when pursued by others and find safety from those who wish to harm them, like the cities of refuge in Israel’s history.

Only incidentally will a sanctuary, whether a building or a place, point toward God. Herein is the problem. We are centered upon ourselves, making the individual the greatest and most important in our world. This is an attitude, not a fact. Just because we think ourselves more valuable, more important, or the center of our own universe, does not mean we are. We have abandoned the knowledge that God is the center of all, created and eternal.

In the center of the Garden of Eden were two trees. One was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the other was the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were told to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were told they could eat from the Tree of Life. In fact, God said they could eat from any tree in the garden except from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They were given permission to eat from the Tree of Life until they had eaten from the other. Then they were expelled from the garden so they wouldn’t eat from the Tree of Life, and live forever in their sin.

In the middle of the camp of the Israelites stood the Tent of Meeting. On all sides of the Tent were the tribes of Israel. Were they placed such to protect the Tent? Or was the Tent placed in the middle as the center of their life and existence? Here, in the Tent, God said He would dwell. This Tent was called a Sanctuary. “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it” [Exodus 25:8-9 ESV]. This place was holy, set apart for the sole purpose of fulfilling God’s desires. In the center of this sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting, was the Most Holy Place. Within the Most Holy Place was the Ark of the Covenant containing the broken Ten Commandments and the Mercy Seat, the covering upon which was poured the annual offering of blood to atone for the sins of the people.

When Satan tempted Jesus he took Him to a high mountain and showed Him all of the kingdoms of the world. Where else can you see all things except from the center? Satan asked himself the question “who is the greatest in eternity?” and answered himself pointing to himself, falling from his high position before God, made himself the self-proclaimed center.

What did Satan say to Jesus? “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” [Matthew 4:9 ESV]. Satan promised Jesus something he could not deliver. He may have given the impression all kingdoms were his by placing himself in the center of the world. Jesus exposed the lie with the truth. “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve’” [Matthew 4:10 ESV].

In the center of the garden was the Tree of Life. I believe this Tree of Life was a type of Christ, the Creator at the center of His creation. Man cannot live while at enmity with God.

In the center of the camp was the means God used to release the sinful person from the judgment and justified sentence of their sin. The Mercy Seat is a type of Christ and the blood poured over it, hiding the broken sin from the eyes of God, is Christ’s own. Man cannot live forever covered in sin. None of the kingdoms shown to Christ will last. Only His kingdom and the citizens of His kingdom, who are covered with the blood of Christ and have eaten from the Tree of Life.

Christ is our Sanctuary and our Peace.