Updated: May 22, 2020
“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” Galatians 5:16-17
As we continue to examine critical encounters recorded in the bible, we focus on the encounter between the serpent and man. This encounter leads to Adam & Eve disobeying God, creating the first misalignment – Man veers of God’s purpose for him, not because God changed His plans but because Man failed to stick to the plan through disobedience and suffered the consequence. The episode shows God simultaneously loving & fair.
“Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’” 2 Timothy 2:19
Examining many of the promises of God, I find that He requires an alignment. For example, in Proverbs 18:10 He promises safety to the righteous who runs to Him – a promise of safety requiring alignment through righteousness and seeking him. John 1:12, promises to give anyone who aligns, by believing in Christ, the power to be the Children of God.
Adam and Eve were blessed and empowered to have dominion Genesis 1:28, Psalm 8:5-7. Sin disconnected them (and by extension us all) from God and introduced the pain of failure & suffering into our world (Genesis 3:18-19). Only through the salvation that Christ brings are we restored to spiritual dominion. The flesh remains subject to the rules of the physical world, but we triumph spiritually – Christ’s dominion for example was not over physical possessions and kingdoms but spiritual.
While Christ’s sacrifice restores believers to God’s planned state - victorious, the Devil recognizes that creating a misalignment between the new man and God is his best chance to subject us to our former state of defeat to him.
A similarity of Temptations
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:18
The devil knows that he has been defeated. His only chance against a believer is to separate us from the winning side of the battle – misalignment. In studying the temptation of Eve, I could not help but notice a similarity between the temptations of the first Adam (Eve) and the second Adam (Jesus). It also struck me, that the devil continues to tempt believers to misalignment using these same methods. We look at the temptations of Eve, draw similarities to that of Christ and draw lessons for the believer today.
The Lure of our own wants
“So, when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate” Genesis 3:6
The reasons with which Eve convinced herself to eat the fruit (she saw it was pleasant & thought it would make her wise) had surprisingly little to do with what the Devil said to her. Little to do with being like God but the knowledge of good and evil can be stretched to meet the wisdom criteria. The point here is that Eve fell for her own lusts. Christ’s first temptation was a play on His hunger Matthew 4:2 – 4 (after He had fasted 40 days), Christ’s response indicates the need to depend on the words of God versus flesh.
Romans 6:16 & Galatians 5:16-17 establish an interesting fact, sin is a consequence of failing to walk in the spirit. Long before a believer falls in sin, he first starts to walk according to his flesh instead of the Holy Spirit’s leading. If you want to avoid falling to sin, then walk according to the spirit by relying on God’s word – through prayerful study. Sin is never a coincidental act; it is a consequence. Neither is righteousness a coincidence, it is the result of walking in the spirit.
Doubting God & doubting yourself
Two phrases the devil used when he spoke to Eve were designed to induce doubt. “Has God indeed Said…” Genesis 3:1, the Devil knew that Eve knew exactly what God said, the question was cynical and was intended to make Eve reflect doubtfully on God’s words.
“…the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God…” again, knowing that Eve was created in God’s image, he casts doubt on her identity. The Devil asks Eve to disobey her creator just so she could become what He had already made her…. The irony.
Christ’s first two temptations begin with the same phrase “…if you are the son of God…”. Again, the Devil challenges the identity of Christ, but in this case, there was no identity crisis. Jesus knew exactly who He was and had no need to prove Himself.
In the second temptation, the Devil takes Psalm 91:11&12 out of context, the chapter begins with words “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High”. Christ promptly rebukes the Devil; God was not to be tempted.
The Devil still causes believers to doubt the word of God and to doubt our identities in Christ. I find a lot of reassurance in John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name”. Our identities are tied to faith in Christ.
All we have tried to prove so far, is that very often, the Devil does not jump straight to tempting the believer to sin. First, he lets the flesh do its job, and those who walk in the flesh are subject to sin Romans 6:16. Then the devil introduces doubt, doubt of God’s words and what our identities are in Christ. If a believer lets the Devil have his way on these 2 levels, sin, ultimately becomes inevitable.
If a believer is to avoid a misalignment with God, then he must avoid the pitfalls of the first man and emulate Christ. First, to understand God’s words and how those words come to define our existence. We must then live according to those words through the Holy Spirit. Living in the Spirit has nothing to do with how often a believer attends church, or how long s/he has been saved, it is letting God reflect in our actions every moment. The consequence becomes living a life aligned with God’s will.