Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘temptation’

Echoes of temptations

Imagine spending 40 days with no food out in the desert!  Would anyone voluntarily do this?  Well, Jesus did it as He prepared for the next 3 years of his life in the public. 

And in His weakened state, he was further assaulted by the devil who brought three propositions that seem quite attractive on the surface—that is, IF the end justifies the means.  After all, who wouldn’t want fame, power, wealth and the legitimate provision of their physical needs?  The price?  Twist the Scripture a little, shortcut the suffering of the cross, worship Satan…Whoa!  Worship Satan?  Yes, that was the deal. 

All of these temptations focused on selfish desires.  But Jesus warded each of them off by refocusing on God his Father. 

So Satan left him “for a while.”  So when did he come back?  I’m not sure exactly, but I see interesting echoes of the three temptations in other events of Jesus’ life. 

Temptation:  Turn stones into bread to satisfy his hunger.
Jesus’ response:  “It is not by bread alone that a man will live, but by every word from the mouth of God.”
Echo:  As crowds streamed out of a town to listen to Jesus, his disciples urged him to eat something.  His reply:  “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”

Temptation:   Receive power to rule the world in exchange for worshiping Satan.
Jesus’ response:  “The Lord your God is the (only) one you will worship.”
Echo:  After he multiplied bread and fish to feed thousands, they wanted to make him king.  Jesus resisted, knowing that only in the Father’s predetermined time would his worldwide reign be fulfilled.

Temptation:   Do a daredevil stunt, assuming that angels would catch him.
Jesus’ response:  “Do not test the Lord your God!”
Echo:  When religious leaders demanded a miracle to prove Jesus’ power and identity as God, he refused.  While hanging on the cross and taunted to “Come down from that cross and save yourself!” he again refused, committed to accomplishing the salvation he came to provide for mankind by taking the just punishment for their sins.

Jesus was not out to do his own thing and promote Himself.  He came as God’s servant and mankind’s savior—humble and obedient to God alone.

Shall we do less?

Truth and Beauty—Eve’s perspective or God’s?

Eve’s perspective on her situation was much like today’s postmodern view:

The fruit was beautiful—“beautiful thoughts, words…”  Anyone can claim anything is beautiful (e.g. abortion, perverted sex, euthanasia, false words about God).

Would make one wise—we get to be like God and decide what is right and true!

Tasted good—it’s fun—if it feels good, do it!

She ate the poison and disaster resulted.  Meanwhile, Satan laughed up his sleeve and thus commenced the battle for the human heart down through the ages.  Have we learned?  Have we forgotten the lessons of the ancient past?  Do we even believe that this happened?

From the Facebook post of a friend: 

The darkness says, “What is truth? Just do what I say. You’ll never really know what is true. And why should it matter, as long as you’re pleasing yourself?”

The Holy One says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)

Sinfully Sweet Tomatoes?

Sinfully sweet tomatoes

What is sinful about sweet tomatoes?  Now, the fruit that Adam and Eve ate may be called “sinfully sweet” because God had forbidden it.  But tomatoes?  Did God say not to eat sweet tomatoes?  (My husband might say so in jest, since raw tomatoes are definitely not one of his favorite foods.)

We did a quick search of current usage of “sinful” on the Internet, yielding these results, among others:

Sinful Colors—a line of fingernail polish. 

A certain kind of wine:  “Delicious!  So good it must be sinful.”

A recipe:  “Wow, I don’t know if banana bread can get any better than this!          Every bite was the ideal combination of sweet and salty! Sinful…fantastically sinful…”

What makes something sinful?  Is the advertiser trying to imply —
–that sin is fun?
–that God doesn’t want us to do enjoyable things? 

Either of these messages is blasphemous to the character of God who loves us, knows what is best for us, and gives us all good things to enjoy.  It also perpetuates Satan’s lie in the garden that sin is fun, tasty, and cool.  (After all, you’ll be like God!)

So if God provides you with sweet tomatoes, rich chocolate desserts or yummy banana bread—eat moderately and enjoy Smile.  It’s not a sin!  On the other hand, if something is truly sinful (offensive to God), it’s better to make tracks in the other direction!  Let’s not make the mistake of associating sin with enjoyment.

The Lines that Lure Us

Satan’s three temptations presented to Jesus have poignant parallels in the lines  that lure us today:

“Turn these stones into bread” is now “You need it” or “You deserve it.”

“Jump from this high place because angels will catch you” (a ploy for public attention) is now “You’ve got it; flaunt it.”

“I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world if you worship me” is now “The end justifies the means.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

Of course, the response to each of these was straight from the Scriptures which point us back to God and away from ourselves.  (See Matthew 4.)

The Appeal and the Real Deal

This is the second in a two-part series on the temptation of Eve in Genesis 3. Last week’s posting dealt with Satan’s slick salesmanship. 

Now let’s look at Eve’s perspective.  What did she see (verse 6)?

–Physical appeal:  good for food.  (Hmm…Did Satan say “sinfully delicious”?)
–Aesthetic appeaI:  pleasing to the eye.
–Intellectual appeal: desirable for gaining wisdom.

When she ate it, did it live up to the advertisements?  What happened to her and her husband? 

— from their own selves (They covered themselves.)
— from God (They hid from Him.)
— from one another (They blamed someone else for what they’d done.)
— from nature (“Cursed is the ground because of you..It will produce thorns and   thistles for you….)

And pain
–To the woman: “In pain you will bear children.” (Gen. 3:16)
–To the man:  “In pain you will eat food from the ground.”  (Gen. 3:17)

Now, was it worth it? 

It’s All About Whom?

I’ve just begun to read through another new Bible.  This one will eventually be given (with my notes) to my grandson Josiah.  As I began in Genesis, this is the facet that caught my attention:

Before Adam and Eve sinned, they were other/outward focused—to God, to the work God had given them to do, and to each other.  There was harmony, communication, and cooperation—even with the earth, plants and animals. 

When Satan came to tempt Eve, it was “all about you” (or, from Eve’s perspective, “All about me!”):

The benefits touted by the tempter:

–“You will not die.”
–“Your eyes will be opened.”
–“You will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

In today’s words, “You deserve it!” 

Just one more thought about his promise, “You will be like God…”  Doesn’t it sound familiar?  Isn’t that ambition what got Satan kicked out of heaven in the first place?    (Isaiah 14:13-15)

It is true that we were made “in God’s likeness” in terms of moral, intellectual and relational capacities.   And we are urged to be like Jesus in the perfection of his character.  But we must not presume to think that we could ever approximate His wisdom, knowledge, sovereignty, and Wholly/Holy Other-ness!  That was the problem of Satan which he passed on to the human race, and we are suffering the consequences even today.

(More next time about Eve’s response and the results of her action.)

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