Sunday, 28 August 2005 00:00

The Anatomy of Temptation

Genesis 3:1-5 (KJV)

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

There are various things we are tempted to do in life, not all of which are wrong for us or bad for us. The word temptation is a neutral word. For our purposes this morning, we are going to attach a negative context to temptation—the temptation to sin. Sin is defined as "transgression of the law." (I John 3:4). This phrase translates to one word—"anomia." Anomia literally means "without law," so to understand what sin is, you must recognize:

  1. There is a Lawgiver—called God. His law is in creation, conscience and Scripture.
  2. Sin is living "without God's law." This means you ignore it, break it, never consider it, or simply give no thought to it. Temptation to sin is temptation to live without law.
  1. There is an enemy behind every temptation"the serpent" (Genesis 3:1).
    Liberals will call this entire chapter a fable, a legend, or a myth. But the Apostle John called Satan "that old serpent" (Revelation 12:9). Either Satan possessed an actual serpent, or took the appearance of one. But where did Satan originate?
    1. His presence in this world—is described for us by the prophet Isaiah:
      "Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day thou was created till iniquity was found in thee" (Ezekiel 28:12-15). The angel desired to be God Himself. "I will exalt my throne... I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:12-15). As a result of his rebellion he was cast from the presence of God (Revelation 12:9).
    2. His power in this world—is limited. Bunyan called him "a lion on a chain."
      Satan is not omniscient. Nor is he omnipresent. Nor is Satan omnipotent.
    3. His purpose in this world—is to tempt you to sin against God, as did he.
  2. There is an evil beneath every temptation"And he said unto the woman" (v.1).
    It is difficult for some to see how Eve's action of eating the fruit deserves judgment. But remember, sin is living without regard for God's law. God said "don't eat of it."
    1. Satan will tempt you by casting doubts"hath God said?" (v.1).
      Doubts about God's authority and the reliability of God's Word are first.
    2. Satan will tempt you by causing denial"You shall not surely die" (v.4).
      This denial may come in the form of friends or within one's own heart.
    3. Satan will tempt you by creating delusion"Ye shall be as gods" (v.5).
      When a person living outside of God's revealed will believes he is not in harm's way, he is delusional. Sin always follows the path described above.
  3. There is an escape before every temptation"a way to escape" (I Corinthians 10:13).
    In the letter to the Corinthians, Paul extols the faithfulness of God to those believers who suffer temptation, that He will always provide an avenue out of that sin.
    1. Remember who God is... His ways are not always the easiest, but are the best.
    2. Remember what sin is... living life without regard to what God says or thinks.
    3. Remember where sin leads... sin by its very nature is destructive.

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