Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Softly, Gentlely Tempted
Softly, Gentlely Tempted
by David Brenneman
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God (Jesus) had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die."" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Genesis 3:1-5 NASB.
Many things in reading this this morning stand out way more than had before...it's possible because of my sort of 'double' reading plan between Biblegateway and my Life Principles Daily Bible.
Start with the word crafty. Crafty is defined as "clever at achieving one's aims by indirect or deceitful methods".
Next is the approach. "Indeed, has God said..." the only phrase that comes to mind immediately is 'silver tongued devil' - appropriately enough. You can hear the derision (contemptuous ridicule or mockery) in what the serpent was saying as he started into Eve.
Up next is that Eve sort of went farther than what the Lord Jesus had said. She added to it. "...or touch it...". Maybe this was from Adam, maybe it was on her own. But was certainly added.
Next up is the sly mockery that can be seen as easily meaning to shame Eve into feeling stupid about deciding to obey God. "You surely will not die!" The soft approach is what Satan goes for. He does not hit you upside the head with temptation. He will not push you into sinning, he will get you to go after it yourself.
The effect of what God said would happen is probably the only point in which the serpent told the truth.
Let's jump to Matthew 4:1-11 NASB "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Essentially as Biblically described as "the serpent of old - the same one from the Garden of Eden). And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. And the tempter (same guy as seen in Genesis 3) came and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."" - Stop and notice this is really how the instruction to Adam and Eve began. Living on what had proceeded out of the mouth of God was how it all began in Genesis 2 before the fall of Adam and Eve to sin - Then the Devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnace of the temple, and said to Him, "If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is writtten, "He will command His angels concerning you"; and 'On their hands they will bear you up, So that you will not strike Your foot against a stone." Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test."" Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and said to Him, "All these things I will give to You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Go, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."" Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him."
Notice also that in no way was Satan yelling at Jesus to comply. At no time is it recorded that anything but slyness was the method of Satan. Satan's use of "If You are..." is the same way "Did God say..." begins all this.
Satan's NOT going to be overt when he or one of his minions or even our sin nature (more often than not THIS is the case) presents things to us to consider that do lead to sin.
We're going to be tempted to live separate lives between obedience to God on Sunday's (or whenever the church you attend has services) and after you leave.
We're going to be tempted to live differently while at work rather than outside of it. Businesses will try to run their business differently as if they weren't to follow Godly principles. The Bible actually instructs to handle ALL affairs as if being done unto God....INCLUDING business as well as private and public. As a Steven Curtis Chapman song "Everything You Do" goes...it means everything.
We're warned of giving the devil an opportunity in Ephesians 4:27. Essentially it directs us to not open the door when we KNOW it's him who's knocking! It means to not listen for even a moment. Don't let the thoughts begin in our heads...even IF they sound sweet and innocent...that will inevitably end up in sin occurring.
Going on the Offense...
I've been really reminded of this passage AND this offensive gesture...yes this is a sports analogy from me...2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB "We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,"
It's not as easy as it sounds when we're tired or when we're hungry or lonely or especially when we're angry. HALT. Means to STOP, CEASE, DESIST.
When we even start to consider a thought that will harm our knowledge of God, when we intentionally are not living in obedience because whatever crossed our mind to do isn't going to be God honoring...we need to stop and take a step back.
God's not going to have a list of things...literally and most importantly...Jesus is NOT going to have a list of exclusions of things that will be 'ok' that He will 'just let pass' when we give an account of our lives...of the deeds done in the body for Him. Whatever was done in the body will face the fire and whatever isn't or wasn't done for Jesus it will be burned up. Poof...gone.
Temptation and persecution aren't really the same thing. We read in 2 Timothy 3:12 NASB "Indeed, all who want to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.".
Consider as well that we're commanded to be holy as He is holy. Are your desires in life matching up with God's idea of Holy? Ouch.
Consider as well that we're commanded. Not suggested. It's not a wishful hope.
We're going to face temptations and we do have offensive weaponry. We do have the full armor of God...but notice what that weaponry is: The sword of the Spirit...the Word of God." The Word of God is the answer to the attacks by the devil or his minions or our sin nature. People made light of the idea of WWJD. What would Jesus do? That's actually a Biblically sound idea. Consider it as well that we who are in Christ are to be His workmanship...being transformed as it says in Romans...sanctified...the prayer of Jesus was to do with our sanctification. Our becoming more like Jesus. Our bodies will either give up, give out, but our spirit is what's going to endure for eternity.
It's been somewhat of a difficult beginning to the week in regards to the thoughts that have been going through my mind. It's been hard in that incessant knocking of temptation to be let in. The whispers through the doors not taken, not opened.
Satan really hates it when what used to work with us doesn't work anymore. So does his minions.
Temptations will be soft and subtle and we'll even believe they are harmless. That they aren't harming ourselves or anyone else. Where it harms us is in some way or fashion it puts something between us and Jesus even if subtly. Over time a few more subtle things come between us and Jesus then we wonder what happened and where did Jesus go? Dealing with Satan at times is often akin to stepping on lego's. Only without touching does it look ok. We inevitably step on one and find out the truth of the lie in time...it hurts.
We're encouraged to guard what has been entrusted to us...which would be the Word of God. Which means to value it above the words of the world.
Which means to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. To put what God wants of us and to see in us as more important than our own desires.
To have deeds done in this body that we have use of that honor God, that show obedience to God, so that after the fire tests those things...we have something to give back to Jesus. Will you have anything to give back to Jesus?