Bob Greene served in pastoral ministry in California and Arizona for 14 years, and completed a BA in Christian studies and an MA in theological studies, before joining the faculty at Grand Canyon University. Bob loves preaching and teaching, worship, surfing and hanging out with his three children: Justice, Micah and Dixie (the family Jack Russell Terrier).
For the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking about what life was like when I was a young college student and what some of my toughest struggles were. One of the main things I remember was that I was constantly dealing with temptation. There wasn’t a day that went by where I wasn’t tempted to do things that I knew I wasn’t supposed to do.
Maybe you can identify with me on this, because the truth is that temptation is difficult, and we all struggle with it.
One of Satan’s tricks is to convince us that God is holding out on us, that God doesn’t really love and care for us. This unfortunate reality is recorded in Genesis 3, when Satan approaches Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, and suggests that if God really loved them, He would not keep anything from them and permit them to eat of the forbidden tree.
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when 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, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (Genesis 3:1-7)
If we want to stay faithful to God, when things are good and especially in the hard times of life (when we face trials and temptations), we need to explore three mistakes that Adam and Eve made. These three mistakes lead us to disobey God and miss out on a deeply fulfilling relationship with Jesus. By understanding these mistakes, hopefully we will be able to set some boundaries in our lives to keep us from learning the hard way.
- Not Believing God’s Word (Genesis 3:1-4)
This was a huge mistake. Eve doubted and distorted what God had said. The serpent not only contradicts what God had said, but also goes on to present the fruit of the tree as something worth obtaining; by eating it, the couple will be like God, knowing good and evil. Adam and Eve make the mistake of believing the serpent and not believing God.
- Believing a False Word (Genesis 3:5)
Adam and Eve unfortunately learn their lesson the hard way. By obeying the serpent, they betray the trust placed in them by God. Before this event, Adam and Eve only knew what was good, what God had provided for them. But because they disobeyed God, they experienced the reality of evil, sin and separation from God.
- Basing Decisions on Physical Desires (Genesis 3:6-7)
The fruit seemed good, it looked good and it may have even smelt and tasted good for a moment. But then reality set in on what they had done. They had replaced God as ultimate with something that was temporal. The temporary satisfaction that the fruit brought didn’t last, and they knew that their physical desire had cost them something far more substantial than they had ever thought.
So, what temptations have been weighing on you lately? What have you been struggling with?
The goodness of God is the great barrier against giving into temptation. Since God is good, we don’t need any other person, any other thing or any other experience to meet our needs. The moment we start to doubt God’s goodness, we will be attracted to Satan’s offers; and our natural desires will reach out for the bait that the enemy puts in front of us.
My challenge to you is to ask Jesus to be ultimate in your life. Take the temptations you are struggling with to Him in prayer. Pray for deliverance and trust God to accomplish His perfect will for your life.
Take some time today and lay your entire life in front of Jesus, repent of your past and commit to follow Him and prepare to enjoy everything He has for you from now and for eternity.