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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eve vs. Jesus Christ: A Study In Temptation

This post was originally posted at the Christian Apologetics Alliance: Go There!
temptatation_of_christTemptation, all humans experience it and most can’t resist it. This is especially true as we walk the Christian path. Everyday it seems we are lambasted with enticing words and images to make us deviate from the road God has placed us on and onto the street toward sin. Though, the situation may seem dire, as I have said before in another article, God always has a contingency plan. His Word is full of examples to help us along the way and the fight against temptation offers us many passages to cling to. One passage in particular is the record of the serpent’s deception of Eve, the first woman, in the Garden of Eden. The record begins in Genesis 3 verse 1:
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’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 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.’” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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.” 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. 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.
Sadly, history seems to be repeating itself over and over because, believe it or not, this deception is carried out successfully by the devil still today. Thus, this passage holds an inerrant truth even for modern readers. Let’s take a look at why this passage is important even for the most sold out Christian.

The first mistake Eve makes is the fact that she actually starts holding a conversation with the devil. Do you think Eve knows full well she shouldn’t be talking to the serpent? Definitely. She let’s curiosity get the best of her. Well, we see strike one on the way to a sure strike out. The second mistake is committed when the devil asks her, ““Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” She responds with, “God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” This quote is in stark contrast to God’s command; so, let’s take a look at what He actually said. In Genesis 2:16-17, God commands, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.”

A large discrepancy exists between what God commanded and what Eve said He told her to do. God never mentioned anything about touching the fruit and He also said Adam and his wife would surely die. Eve changed the phrasing of the latter command to the much weaker lest. Random House dictionary says the word lest is “used negatively to introduce a clause expressive of an action or occurrence requiring caution.” Thus, we can see a great divide between the words surely (it will definitely happen) and lest (careful that it might happen).

Eve’s alteration and addition to the Word of God invites the devil to make the next statement, ““You will not surely die.” Whoa! This statements is a total 180 degrees from what God had originally said. As you can see, the devil does not come out and contradict God at the outset of the conversation, he lets Eve do the dirty work for him. Thus, his temptation is complete and Eve ends up sinning and convinces Adam to do the same which leads to the fall of man.

The example provided by Eve in this passage shows us a breakdown of temptation and how not to act when confronted by the devil’s devices. We see Eve make a number of mistakes along the way. The first is that she actually gives place to the devil by engaging him in a conversation. This is the opposite of what is outlined in 1 Peter 5:8-9, which says, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith…” Remember one thing, the adversary has been at this since the beginning while we have relative inexperience with just a few years under our belts. I think the best thing to do is to resist him and the best way to do that is to have knowledge of what the Word of God actually says and to keep our heads in His Word. Romans 12:2 says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

The conversation Eve has with the devil snowballs into Eve’s second and third mistakes involving addition and subtraction from the Word of God. This can be dangerous because once we end up changing the Word, we cannot stand on the Word’s power and might. Hebrews 4;12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Instead, we stand only on ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I am not comfortable standing on my own word when it comes to spiritual matters.

Eve’s temptation seems to be a guide on how not to deal with the devil’s devices; however, another one of God’s contingency plans includes a great example of how to act when temptation comes our way. Of this Example, it is written in Hebrews 4:15, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Jesus’ triumph against temptation is found in Matthew 4:3-11:
Now when the tempter [the devil] came to Him [Jesus Christ], he said, “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 by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.
As you can see in this passage from Matthew, Jesus Christ acts completely opposite of what Eve has shown us. He does not engage the devil in conversation, but only quotes directly from scripture. We’ve heard the term What Would Jesus Do? Well, in this case we should follow the example laid out to us by Jesus Christ and resist temptations by using the Word of God as our weapon.