Temptation – Part 1

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I was reading a book the other day called Sense and Sensuality by Ravi Zacharius. This is a fictional dialogue between Jesus and Oscar Wilde based on biblical principles. In one particular part of the book, Jesus tells Oscar how temptation works.

Ravi writes, “There are three inclinations Satan appeals to and three steps in every temptation. In understanding this, you’ll see the distortion. The evil one appeals to three basic hungers – food, power and pleasure. He wants all of these met autonomously. He demands the miracle for the wrong reason. He calls upon God for the wrong motive. He offers the world but it isn’t his to give. The hungers are all misdirected.

In falling for that temptation, you exalt power to meet your need rather than surrender in humility to God’s will. This is the way the tempter takes away your humanity and supplants it with the illusion of omnipotence. He takes away the soul and leaves you with the body.

In Genesis 2:7 the bible gives the account of the creation of man:

7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

The first thing I notice is God formed man from the dust of the ground. He fashioned his body, but it wasn’t until He breathed into man’s nostril that man became a living being. The word formed is the Hebrew word yatsar, which means to form, or fashion. In this particular occurrence of the word, it is like a potter creating a vessel. The vessel is empty but meant to contain something. It is created to be filled with something.

What was it our bodies were meant to be filled with? The breath of life. It wasn’t until God breathed into man’s nostrils that he became a living being. It is not our body that is life but the life God breathed into our nostril’s. The vessel which contain’s the life that God has given us. There are two things we can look at, the first is God’s action, and then the result of God’s action.

What did God do? He “Breathed into his nostril’s the breath of life”. Breathed is the Hebrew word, naphach, which literally mean’s to breathe or blow. The next phrase tells us what was breathed. The breath of life. Breath is the Hebrew word neshamah, and life is the Hebrew word chay which literally means age or alive. It wasn’t until God breathed into him, that he became a “living being”. It isn’t our flesh that is life, but rather the body contains the life within us. This vessel came to life by the very breath of God.

In Genesis 2:15-17 the Bible states:

15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Verses 18-20 give the account of the creation of Eve, Adam’s helper:

18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” 19 Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:

“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

In Genesis 3:1-7 we have the account of the conversation between Satan and Eve, and the the response of both Adam and Eve to the tempation:

3 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

We are created in God’s image and God gave us physical needs and God met those needs in the garden. He gave Adam food, authority and a wife. All the things which we need, God provided. Sustenance, purpose and intimacy.

If we look at Genesis 3:2-3, we see Eve’s response to Satan after she was tempted it is interesting to notice there is a distortion of God’s word:

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

Where did Eve get the notion that the fruit couldn’t even be touched? Was it Adam who relayed this information incorrectly? Was it her attempt to overcome temptation on her own and in doing so she revealed her weakness? Her desire was to please God by following His command, but the truth was distorted. Though her intention was rightly aimed, she had a distortion of the truth. Distortion is the tactic of the enemy. He distort’s God’s word, adding subtleties and nuances to God’s Word that aren’t there. Manipulating the truth and praying on our weakness.

God gave them both everything they needed including clear instruction on how to live, but Satan appealed to their physical and spiritual needs, Distorting the truth and essentially telling them they did not need God, and if they ate the fruit they would become like God. They would have everything they needed, when in fact that was already the case. They could taste something not intended for them, become something they were not created to be and experience something greater than who they were. How cunning that enemy is.

Where are you tempted greatest? What is it you hunger for? What is it that you desire? What need’s do you attempt to meet on your own? Next time we will look at the account of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness and how he responded to Satan.

My biggest takeaway from all of this is the distortion of truth. God’s word is without err. If we would just know His word, trust the Spirit of God to lead us and direct our steps, and realize that God loves his children and meets their every need in this lifetime, and into the life to come. Truth is already revealed to us in God’s word and yet we still want more than what God has already given us. We were created to be like God, but now desire to be God. There is an enemy who wants to lead us away from God, his name is Satan, by distorting God’s truth and attempting to lead us into autonomy rather than living dependent upon the one who created us.

Father, today we come to you and ask that the truth of Your Word be written on our hearts and ingrained into our lives. That You meet our needs daily and that we just need to rely on You. Be a light unto our feet and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For it is Your creation and You know better than we do for You know all things. Let us know Your holiness for we are a fallen man, and Your mercy for we are a redeemed man in Christ Jesus. That whosoever believes on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, who came in the flesh, will be saved. That the Holy Spirit would quicken us to the truth of Your Word. Lord, we need you today and everyday. In Jesus name, amen.

Sense and Sensuality by Ravi Zacharias

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