Foundational themes in Genesis (Part 18)

Theme: Temptation (Part 1)

(Key verses: Genesis 2:17; Genesis 3:1-6)

The theme of temptation is very closely linked to our previous theme and discussion on the role of this subtle serpent (or evil) in God’s plan. Temptation is an important spiritual instrument which God is using since the beginning. We must always remember that God is busy with a process making all in the generation of the first earthy, physical man Adam in His spiritual image, even in Jesus Christ, the “last Adam”, who is God’s perfect spirit image:

Gen 1:27 CLV And creating is the Elohim humanity in His image…

1Cor 15:45-48 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening [life-giving] spirit.  46  Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.  47  The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.  48  As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

Within this theme we will discuss, amongst others, how temptation is part and parcel of this evil experience in flesh, as created and directed by God. Temptation is intimately linked to our trials, which God uses to show us who we are to start of, as He humbles us to accept His plan and way of doing things.

Ecc 1:13 CLV I applied my heart to inquiring and exploring by wisdom concerning all that is done under the heavens: it is an experience of evil Elohim has given to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.

Temptation is not a sin, only when we give in to that temptation do we sin (transgress), as the life of Jesus also demonstrated as He never sinned (trangressed) while in the body of sin.

2Cor 5:21  For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

In our next discussion (study #19) we will look at how Jesus is our perfect and spotless lamb, even while He was also subjected to the same temptations all of us face in our lifetimes in this marred physical condition:

Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities [our fleshly nature with all its lusts]; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

God is spirit and no flesh can inherit His spiritual kingdom because flesh and all earthly (temporary) things are called “corruption” (2Cor 4:16-18). So it is clear for those who can receive this that we are involved in an age (eon) of death which has the appearance of life, as determined by God. Through this “sore travail” (or evil experience) we are being formed to eventually worship God “in spirit and in truth”:

Joh 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

1Cor 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Ecc 1:13 And I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven: this sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith.

The serpent’s role in all of this should be seen as necessary when he approached Adam and Eve with evil subtlety which they were not able to resist because they could not submit to God and His commandment at this stage (Jas 4:7):

Gen 3:1-6 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.

God does everything with a purpose in mind and He never deviates from that one purpose or will. Temptation is a foundational theme in Genesis because it helps us to understand the deeper spiritual work of God in the earthly generations of the first man Adam, even in ourselves. Only in and through the last Adam, Jesus Christ, are we given victory over temptation and all evil. God indeed created evil and darkness, as all things are “of Him”, but that does not make Him evil or Him being in darkness (1Cor 8:6; 1Cor 11:12; 2Cor 5:18; Rom 11:36; Rom 13:1):

Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

In the same way God Himself tempts no man, but God is the one who “leads” us into the temptation as He is the Cause of everything in our lives. God sends evil spirits and no creature can do anything without God causing it to do what it has to do (1Sam 16:14; 18:10; 2Chr 18:18-22; 2Sa 24:1; 1Ch 21:1):

Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Jas 1:13 ASV Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempteth no man.

1Th 3:5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

As we know the temptation or trials of Job was caused and directed by God (Job 1 and 2). So too was the temptation of Adam and Eve. As the book of Job demonstrates, God uses different “agencies” of evil to bring temptation and trials to us. In Job the Sabeans (“men of stature” – Isa 45:14), the “fire of God”, the Chaldeans (or Babylonians), “a great wind from the wilderness”, boils, Job’s own wife and his three friends were all used to bring the severe trials to Job (Job 1:13-19; Job 2:7-13). Some falsely claim that Satan’s temptations are independent of the tests God sends. It is very important to note that temptation is intimately linked to all trials. Two verbs with their noun forms, one in the Hebrew and one in the Greek (“nâsâh” and “peirazō” respectively) help us to see this (refer also to Deu 6:16; Matt 4:1,6; 1Cor 10:9; Rev 3:10; 1Pe 4:12). Here, however, is a verse that can cause confusion:

Gen 22:1 (KJV) And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt [Hebrew: “nâsâh” meaning “to test”, “to tempt”, “to try”] Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

God did not “tempt” Abraham as the King James translation and other human translations want us to believe, because God indeed “cannot be tempted with evil”.

Gen 22:1  And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.

God has absolute control over everything – He never lost control over anything, not even for a split second. Everything is still within His one perfect will and plan, yes even the evil He created and control. Abraham also did not commit an act of sin or trespass in this case (Jas 1:13-17). The book of Hebrews gives us the right approach:

Heb 11:17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried [Greek: “peirazō”], offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

Abraham was given this trial to show us something about God’s heart! Again we should be reminded that God knows all things before we find out about it, even the end of a thing from the beginning (Isa 46:10; Matt 6:8). So these tests (also known as temptations and trials) are not for His information, but for our information – those who are given to accept His “strange work” in this age (Isa 28:21). We painfully learn about our own natural condition and the state of our own natural “heart” through temptations and trials, as Adam and Eve also learned:

Deu 8:2 and verse 16 And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove [Hebrew: “nâsâh”; The Greek Septuagint has “peirazō” here] thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. (16) Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end.

God also knew what was in Abraham’s heart before He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in the mountain of the land Moriah, the “mount of the Lord” where God also revealed Himself as “Jehovahjireh” – the God who has provided because He “knows all things” in advance! (Gen 22:2, 14; 2Chr 3:1; Matt 6:8; 1John 3:20):

Gen 22:12-13 And he [God] said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked [he did not notice this until the appointed time], and behold behind him a ram caught [or “seized”] in a thicket [The Greek Septuagint has the word “sabbaton” which is from “shabbâth”] by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

This happened historically and was written for our admonition to show why Abraham was used here to show the Father’s heart of God who did not withhold His only beloved Son, Jesus (1Cor 10:11; Rom 8:32). Jesus was prepared by God “before the foundation of the world”, like the ram that was behind Abraham in a thicket where he could not see it until he “lifted up his eyes” – away from his own restricted point of view:

1Pe 1:19-20 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

All of these temptations and trials are on the kingdom of the “man of sin”, even the first Adam in us (Gen 1:26; Ps 51:5; 2Thes 2:3-4). God’s spiritual sons submit to these tests because they help to grow the faith of Jesus which “works patience” to enter the kingdom of God. That is why we are encouraged to accept these diverse temptations and trials with “all joy” because in the end it is worth it (Acts 14:22):

Jas 1:2-3 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations [Greek noun “peirasmos”] 3 Knowing this, that the trying [Greek “dokimion” which means “to test” also] of your faith worketh patience.

Rev 14:11-12 And the smoke of their torment [Greek: “basanismos” – a touchstone, which is a black stone used to test the purity of gold or silver] ascendeth up for ever and ever [for the eons of the eons = in “every man” in the eon of the first man Adam indeed]: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. 12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

Rev 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.

One of the most subtle temptations is not to pray when we first discover God’s sovereignty over all things and what God causes to happen in our lives. We reason with our carnal mind that it is not necessary to pray if things are going to happen the way God ordained long before the foundation of the world in any case. But when we see that our prayers are an integral part of God’s sovereign plan, the saints do that part with diligence (Rev 5:8; Rev 8:3-4). Nothing stands apart from the one plan. We indeed should also pray to God to keep us spiritually strong against Satan’s temptation in this evil world, inside ourselves and outside in the world, because we want to be delivered from this world through the one and only “way to escape”, even Jesus Christ in us, as we endure till the end (1Cor 10:13; Matt 26:41; 2Cor 12:9-10). Jesus prayed, and as He is so are we in this world (1John 4:17):

Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Mat 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

The only way for Adam and Eve, and all of us, to come to know that human beings are incapable to fulfill God’s commandment on their own so-called “free” will, was through the temptation which the serpent brought. Humans were all created marred in the hands of the great and all-knowing Potter and that temptation is all part of God’s plan for redeeming his children:

Jer 18:4  And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Gen 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat of it: for in the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die…in dying you shall die.

All God’s physical laws are given to show us our sinful physical state:

Rom 3:19-20  Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  20  Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

The commandments of God provide the base for the temptations and the trials in our lives. We know that all things are “of God” but “the spirit in the world” which is “the [natural] spirit of a [natural] man” is not “the spirit of God…the Father” – “these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal 5:17):

1Co 2:11-12 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world [“the spirit of the world”], the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The “spirit of man” in the first man Adam is clearly not the holy spirit of God. Man was given “earthy” breath when God breathed in his nostrils, but this breath or spirit in Adam was just a type and shadow of the “heavenly” spirit of God (Gen 2:7; 1Cor 15:47-49). The life or light in the first Adam was indeed “without form, and void; and darkness” (Gen 1:2):

Pro 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle [a small light] of the LORD, searching all the inward parts of the belly.

Mat 6:22-23 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23 But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

The serpent used “the spirit of the world” in Adam and Eve to entice their inherent fleshly lusts:

Jas 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Jas 4:1-5 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

This “friendship of the world” was in Adam and Eve which made them enemies of God from the beginning. The hearts of Adam and Eve were made by God to attend to “the things of the flesh” and not “the things of the spirit” (Rom 8:5; Matt 15:18-19). The commandment which God gave to them not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil “worked…the motions of sin” in their “members” (Rom 7:5-8). This is what they experienced within themselves before they even touched the forbidden fruit:

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food [“the lust of the flesh”], and that it was pleasant to the eyes [“the lust of the eyes”], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [“the pride of life”], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The minds of Adam and Eve were “subject to vanity” because the natural mind is death and it is “an abomination to the Lord” (Pro 15:26; Rom 8:6). “Every imagination of the thoughts of [our natural] heart [is] only evil continually” (Gen 6:5; Isa 59:7; Matt 15:18-19):

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope.

Those in Christ are strengthened by His spirit (His words) to keep His commandments through the “light affliction” of temptations and trials. This is also how we should see His grace to us. The end justifies the means from God’s perfect perspective:

2Cor 4:16-18 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Psa 119:64-68 The earth, O LORD, is full of thy mercy: teach [Hebrew: “lâmad” – meaning to goad with a stick or rod] me thy statutes. 65 TETH. Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O LORD, according unto thy word. 66 Teach [Hebrew: “lâmad”] me good judgment and knowledge: for I have believed thy commandments. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. 68 Thou art good, and doest good; teach [Hebrew: “lâmad”] me thy statutes.

Tit 2:11-12 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching [Greek: “paideuō” – chasten as in smite with pain] us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.


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Want let op julle roeping, broeders: julle is nie baie wyse na die vlees nie, nie baie magtiges, nie baie edeles nie; maar wat dwaas is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om die wyse te beskaam; en wat swak is by die wêreld, het God uitverkies om wat sterk is, te beskaam; en wat onedel is by die wêreld en wat verag is, het God uitverkies, en wat niks is nie, om wat iets is, tot niet te maak, sodat geen vlees voor Hom sou roem nie. (1Kor 1:26-29)
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