Theme: Temptation (Part 3)
(Key verses: Matt 4:1-11; James 1:13-17)
How can we tempt God seeing that God cannot be tempted with evil:
Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
As we know, Satan is the tempter and deceiver whom God created for that purpose (Matt 4:1; Luk 22:31; Gen 3:1-5; Acts 5:1-11; Job 2:4-5; 1Thes 3:5). He gets “an advantage of us” all while we are in the first Adam because initially we have no ability to resist his wiles or subtleness. We are warned to be vigilant of the ways of this adversary…
2Co 2:11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices (Greek: noēma = mind).
The word “devices” in this verse comes from the Greek word
“noēma” which refers to “mind”. Satan’s “devices” relate to his mind, and naturally we share the same carnal mind as Satan. That is why our inherent lusts and pride are easily enticed by his approaches as Adam and Eve also revealed to us (1John 2:16; Rom 8:6). When Jesus was hungry after a fast of forty days and forty nights, He was tempted by this same tempter to turn the literal stones to bread and this was Jesus’ defence:
Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
We live by every word that comes from God’s mouth. God’s mouth spoke the words which created all things, even the darkness and the evil:
Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
Isa 45:7 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.
This is so important to realize because even the evil is a creation of God by which we all shall live as it came from the mouth of God…
“…Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
When Jesus was tempted by Satan to cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple in order to get His Father to send angels that He will not as much dash His foot, Jesus said these important words:
Mat 4:5-7 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
Those words of Jesus were quoted from the Old Testament:
Deu 6:16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD [Hebrew: “yehôvâh”] your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
Here we see why God, the Father, who is spirit is never tempted with evil. The Hebrew refers to the name “yehôvâh”. We know that the “yehôvâh” or “I am” of the Old Testament is the LORD Jesus whom God, the Father, used to make all things in this creation. Jesus openly admits to His “I am” status during His earthly ministry for which the Jews wanted to kill Him for, as they also eventually succeeded to do through the Roman’s crucifixion (refer to Rom 11:36; Joh 8:23-25; Joh 8:56-59; Mat 22:32-33; Mar 14:61-64):
Joh 8:57-59 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
Joh 5:18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.
Jesus was equal to the Father in terms of sharing the same spirit, but Jesus was “of” the Father who appointed Him as LORD (“yehôvâh”), the Creator of this creation:
1Cor 8:6 But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
Joh 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
Jesus is “the Lord your God” as appointed by God, the Father (Isa 9:6; John 1:1-4; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:1-4). Naturally we have the same mind of the serpent, and we also tempt “the Lord our God” (Jesus) in the same ways Satan did:
Mat 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
In our last discussion on this theme of temptation, we saw that Satan tempted Jesus to apply His words to physical things only and to place His will above that of the Father. The way physical Israel tempted the Lord at Massah helps us also to see how we tempt the Lord:
Exo 17:1-7 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? 3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? 4 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me. 5 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD [Hebrew: “yehôvâh”], saying, Is the LORD [Hebrew: “yehôvâh”] among us, or not?
“Is the LORD among us, or not?” This is what all carnal minds do – they cannot see the Lord Jesus as present in every aspect of the generation of the first Adam, from the beginning. This was the same mind-set that was in Adam and Eve before they ate of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They could not see that it was God who sent the serpent to tempt them. They were also ignorant of the truth that God was aware of every word they spoke to the serpent. God indeed understands our thoughts “afar off” as He knows our words “altogether”:
Psa 139:1-4 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
There is no way we can get away from God or think He is not “among” us, meaning working all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11):
Psa 139:7-12 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
Such truths are truly “too wonderful” to accept for the natural mind of all in the generation of the first man Adam (1Cor 2:14; 1Cor 1:27-29):
Psa 139:5-6 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
We, like Adam and Eve, tempt God when we cannot see His work in our lives, from beginning to end:
Ecc 3:11 CLV He has made everything fitting in its season; However, He has put obscurity in their heart So that the man may not find out His work, That which the One, Elohim, does from the beginning to the terminus.”
God wrote all the things that happen in all our days in His book when none of those days were even there yet:
Psa 139:13-16 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
God’s hand was not removed from us at any stage. He works the droughts in our lives, and He supplies the waters at His appointed time. But we naturally cannot see this and we choose to see God as a distant God from whom we can actually hide:
Gen 3:7-8 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 [Hebrew: ruach = spirit] of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
While Satan and us can tempt our Lord Jesus through our unbelief and spiritual blindness, God, the Father, is indeed above any temptation:
Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
God, the Father, is NOT tempted with evil and we are told who/what the evil is:
Gen 6:5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
Matt 7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
So James 1:13-15 deals with the operation of temptation WITHIN man and HOW mankind in “sinful flesh” is evil and is tempted with its kind. God, the Father, is holy and the unclean spirit in Adamic flesh cannot tempt the holy Spirit of God, nor can the holy spirit of God succumb to evil. The spirit in humans, on the other hand, is contrary to the holy spirit of God:
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
God, the Father is not tempted with evil, meaning the holy spirit of God cannot be tempted with unclean flesh. However, Christ himself, “in the days of his flesh” (He was indeed a “partaker of flesh and blood” as He was of the physical “seed of Abraham”), was in the realm of temptation:
Heb 2:14-18 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Christ, in the days of his flesh, was tempted with all the evil that is in the world. The flesh provokes and tempts God. We, as all in Adamic flesh, tempt the Lord the same way and we hate the Lord by not keeping His commandments:
1 Cor 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
Ps 78:17-18 And they sinned yet more against him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. 18 And they tempted God in their HEART by asking meat for their lust.
Ps 78:40-41 How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve him in the desert! 41 Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
Ps 78:56 Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies.
So we tempt or provoke God when we do not keep his Word. That is when we are first under sin…in unbelief:
Heb 3:8-9 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years.
Heb 3:16-18 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
Deu 6:16-17 Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. [..how can we not tempt God?] 17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.
Adam and Eve tempted and provoked God in the garden by NOT diligently keeping His word. We all do this in our own garden of flesh which is actually a dry wilderness without the waters of spirit-life:
Psalms 106:13-14 They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: 14 But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, [=garden of Eden] and tempted God in the desert.
When we lust for the things of this world and we render not unto God the things that are His, then we provoke and tempt God:
Luk 20:21-25 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? 24 Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s. 25 And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s.
Thinking God is not intimately aware of what we think and do, is tempting God…as Ananias and Sapphira did:
Acts 5:2-3 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?……..
Acts 5:9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Obedience to the flesh is the great provocation, temptation.
Nehemiah 9:16-18 But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, 17 And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. 18 Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations; [to God].
“The days of His flesh” is now applicable to us as “members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones…. because as He is, so are we in this world” (Eph 5:30; 1John 4:17). God willing, we are now doing the enduring and resisting temptations, like Christ.
Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Physical or carnal things are what this evil world is all about and it cannot know God’s ways. This is what our natural/carnal mind is obsessed with – that is referred to as a “hardened” heart. A carnal mind is a “hardened” heart which also refers to our time in “the wilderness”, even natural Eden, when we cannot obey God’s commandments:
Psa 95:8-11 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.