Have you ever been through a garden at the peak of bloom? All the smells and colors can just leave you in a sense of amazement. Or for me I love to walk to the end of a pier at the beach, uhhh I mean coast (sorry corny baptist joke), and stare at the waves and the horizon. Others enjoy seeing the dips and rises of the mountains and like to just ride the parkway looking at the scenery. God’s creation truly is amazing and beautiful.
Imagine what the beauty of creation would be without a curse (Genesis 3:17-19), no thorns, no decay, no weeds, just nothing but unspoiled endless beauty. If that wouldn’t be great in itself imagine getting to walk in that environment, with no problems, no drama, no debt, no death, and no sin. Sounds great right? There is one other thing that makes those others seem like nothing, imagine getting to walk through that beauty, that peace, that earthly paradise with God himself. Really stop and think about that, getting to physically walk, and talk with God in a perfect environment. How truly amazing that would have been.
The garden of eden had everything Adam and Eve needed, it had food, water, and it had the actual physical presence of God. God loves his creation and wants to be a part of our lives, and he wants us to love him, so also in the middle of the garden he placed a tree and told Adam and Eve, you see all this creation, enjoy it! Every bit of it, but you see that one tree? Leave it alone (Genesis 2:16-17). They had only one thing that they were forbidden to do in order to show their love to God, and all was fine until one day Satan came into the picture.
Do you have times when you just seem to be on top of the world? Spiritually you’re where you should be, at least in that point of your life, everything in your personal life seems to be going well, and then it seemed all at once things started crashing in on you? Its what happened to Job and he came out the other side of that trial better for it. But one thing to take away from all that Job went through was that Satan could do nothing to him without the permission of God. God will allow satan to come to you and tempt you, not to see you fail but to build you up, and God will not allow anything to come your way that he knows that you can not handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).
In the Garden Satan came to Eve in the form of a serpent twisting the words of God (read full chapter below), later on in the gospels we find satan uses the same tactic to tempt Jesus himself (Matthew 4:1-11). The devil will use whatever tactic he can to tempt you, even twisting scripture and feeding it to you to believe something against God.
What is satan tempting you with? To Eve I’m sure that one small piece of fruit didn’t seem all that bad. She had ate other fruits before, but eating fruit was not a sin, it was the disobedience to God that was the sin. If you read what satan presented Eve it was all the benefits of her sin, he did the same to Jesus when he tempted him. Had he came to Eve and said, here eat this fruit, you’ll be kicked out of the garden, have painful child birth, and have to work intensive labor just to get by, I’m sure her response would have been, I think I’ll pass. The devil will present something in front of you so simple, like a piece of fruit and turn your world upside down. He won’t offer you a life away from God, he’ll offer you distractions like, TV, games, sports, crafts and before you know it you no longer have the relationship that you once had leading you into further trouble. He won’t offer you cancer, but he’ll offer substances to relax. He won’t offer you a painful addiction that takes your family, your job, your health, he’ll just offer a way to numb the pain. He won’t offer you STD’s but he’ll offer you the pleasure of a one night stand.
Some of satan’s distractions are not sinful, but can lead you into sin. A tv isn’t sinful, but turning it into an idol, or watching inappropriate material is, taking pain medicine isn’t a sin, as long as its done for its medical purpose. The bible is clear in multiple areas to not let things of the world control us or take us away from God. Eve’s temptation was more than a piece of fruit, it was the promise of something more than what she had. Marketing will use whatever they can to entice you to buy their product, and once you’ve bought their product and improved their bottom line they are satisfied. Once satan tempts you with whatever he has in front of you and takes you away from God he is then satisfied.
So what can we do to overcome temptations? How can we prevent ourselves from falling into sin? Well we have some examples to go by, and as mentioned before God will not let anything come our way that we can’t handle, so know when something comes your way God will be there for you and will be pulling for you to make it through the trial to bless you on the other side. But lets look at a 2 steps to overcoming temptation.
- Know Jesus has been there
So I build websites for a living, I stare at a computer screen all day writing code that spits out the pieces you see in your browser. Many times I’ll come across a problem I’ve not encountered and I have to find a way to overcome the obstacle. What I begin doing is reading, I’ll search through articles and code examples and pretty soon, I find out someone else has already encountered what I’m dealing with and know exactly how to handle it and by their example I can get through my code issue so much easier. Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us that Jesus has also been tempted and we can go to him for help.
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.
16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus was 100% God and he was 100% man. During his time here on earth he went through what you and I go through, he got hungry, he got tired, and he was tempted with sin. He was tempted in everything, just like us, but he did not sin so we can go to him for help when we are in need.
- Follow the example of Jesus
When satan came tempting Jesus he tempted him with some stuff that had Jesus not been prepared for could have been easy to fall into. The first thing he was offered was food. In America this seems like such a trivial thing because we have an over abundance of food leading us into another sin, but thats for another article. But Jesus had not eaten for 40 days, not for a diet, but he was fasting to get closer to the father, had Jesus taken that food it would have cut off his relationship, and he would not have been fit to be our saviour. Food is a necessity for life but it can also just be a simple pleasure, sometimes it can just be the small simple pleasures that take us from God. Satan’s second temptation for Jesus was to throw himself off the temple to prove he was God. As a kid and even now, I love to ride motorcycles, and it never fails when two or more of us get to riding together we feel the need to prove ourselves on who can ride faster, or jump higher, the winner in turn gets to gloat and throw names and just have their ego built up. Pride. Pride will cause us to do things we normally wouldn’t do sometimes for spite, but most of the time to prove we are who we say we are or want people to think we are. Several times in those bike races or jumps, someone always got hurt, whether physically by crashing out, or mentally by loosing, all for the sake of pride. Pride was what caused satan to be cast from heaven. The next thing that Jesus was tempted with was power. This shows that even though Jesus was 100% God, he was also 100% man. Jesus grew up poor, worked a common laborer job as a carpenter, so he was not the richest and wealthiest in the land. Satan offered him the kingdoms of the world, everything your heart could desire, if Jesus would in turn worship him.
In every temptation Jesus rightly used scripture to answer the temptations of Satan. When he was tempted with food Jesus responded with Deuteronomy 8:3, when he was tempted with throwing himself from the temple he responded with Deuteronomy 6:16, and when he was tempted with kingdoms and worshiping satan Jesus responded with Deuteronomy 6:13.
So when you go through trials and temptation know that you can go to Jesus and he can help you because he’s been there, and because he is God. And know that by reading and knowing the scripture, you can have an answer to anything that comes your way.
1 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?
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of 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 hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 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.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.
9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.