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The Hundred-Sixty-Eighth (Temptation)

There are a lot of confusing things about how creation works and why, both to believers and non-believers alike.  They range from why bad things happen to good people to why there is evil in the world to begin with, and include questions about temptation.  We're going to look at different aspects of temptation this week, so let's jump right in!

The first thing to cover is what it is...and what it isn't.  The easiest question to answer is what it is not.  It's not a test created by YHWH to determine our loyalty to or love for Him.  James tells us our own desires are what tempt us (James 1:14).  In fact, he even goes as far as to specifically say YHWH does not tempt us (James 1:13). 

The word used for desires here in the book of James is epithymias, which more accurately means passionate longing, or lusts.  While generally the word lust is used as a negative thing, referring to a desire for something forbidden or sinful, this Greek word is also used as a positive in some cases.  For example, when Yeshua said, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before My suffering," (Luke 22:15), both "eagerly" and "desired" are translated from this word.  Paul also used it in his letter to the Philippians to describe his desire to depart from this world and his current tabernacle and be with Yeshua (Philippians 1:23), and to the Thessalonians to describe his desire to see his brother believers (1 Thessalonians 2:17).

In answering our first, easiest question, what temptation is not, we have been led to the beginning of the answer to what temptation is.  We know temptation is not from, or created by YHWH, so who is it from?  This is an interesting question, because there is actually not just one answer.  

When we go back to the Garden of Eden, we find that there seems to be three different aspects of who, or where, temptation comes from.  The first, most basic aspect is that in order for there to be temptation, something must exist for you to be tempted of.  In the Garden, it was the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3:3), and today it takes the form of many different things, but the common theme is that the temptation involves using or doing something contrary to YHWH's design.  His design for the Garden included not eating or even touching fruit from the tree of knowledge.  It also included not doing all the sinful things you see today, and while initially man inherently knew these things to be sinful, it took implementing His commandments for YHWH to remind, or actually teach, man all those things again (Romans 7:7).

The next aspect you see about who temptation comes from is that there was another party involved in the Garden.  The fallen angel we call Satan, through a conversation with Eve, convinced man to consider the fruit of the tree of knowledge (Genesis 3:4-5, Revelation 12:9).  It is highly likely, based on how it's portrayed in scripture, that prior to that conversation neither Adam nor Eve thought twice about trying to eat that fruit simply based on the fact that it was a commandment from YHWH (Genesis 2:16-17).  Once the conversation with the serpent occurred, it was then that Eve saw the fruit as good (Genesis 3:6), therefore it was through the direct involvement of The Adversary, Satan, that this particular temptation manifested.

Ultimately though, it all came down to the third aspect of temptation: man him(and her)self.  Satan only suggested doubt in YHWH's command, but this action led to a chain of events that resulted in the sinful world we live in today.  It's also worthy of note that the doubt he suggested was not in the commandment itself, but in the consequence of breaking that commandment.  Once the serpent made that suggestion, only then did Eve "see that it was good," (Genesis 3:6).  She then desired it, to James' point, and that became the moment of temptation.

We see this today as well.  At birth, we know nothing but what YHWH designed in us.  Like Adam and Eve, we are born naïve to evil.  Also like Adam and Eve however, this naivete results in being susceptible to the influences of Satan's demons and the general sinful influences of the world, of which those seeds were planted by Satan and his army. 

Inevitably though, the question of why YHWH would allow temptation comes up.  We clearly see He didn't create it, but He is ultimately in control, right?  If He wanted to protect His children from the influences of evil, He could do that, right?  Unfortunately, the answer to this is less than satisfying to most people.  Everyone has experienced the influence of evil and the destruction of YHWH's goodness that it leaves in its path.

Yes, YHWH could put all His children in bubbles and keep them from temptation.  In fact, based on personal experience, He actually does this to an extent.  Upon being reborn spiritually, many of the attempts evil makes to tempt us fall flat.  However, ultimately it's not the temptation that matters, it's our decision whether or not to give in to that temptation and commit sin.

Everything was fine in the Garden until Eve, and subsequently Adam, took their bites out of that fruit.  In fact, until they touched it.  Even at the point at which Eve saw the fruit as good, if she had made the decision to leave it alone we would not be living in the world we do today.  There's a key point to recognize in that situation as well.  Eve saw that it was good in that moment, but that is exactly how YHWH designed it.  He created everything good (Genesis 1).  The sin is that she ate it, which is not what He designed it for.  

The other key aspect to recognize is that once Adam and Eve ate of it, that was it.  That one single sin resulted in consequences.  It didn't require continuous eating for those consequences to come to fruition.  They were thrown out of the Garden never to access the tree of knowledge again (Genesis 3:23-24).  One of Satan's deceptions is that it's not a big deal if you only do it once, whatever sin "it" is.  Him, or his minions, may even convince you to tell yourself you're only going to try it, and then you'll never do it again, but once it's done, it's done, and that mark is on your record.

That mark comes at a price, and that price is your death (Romans 6:23).  Not just the temporary death of your current body, but the permanent death of you as a person: your spirit.  While YHWH desires that none of us die permanently (1 Timothy 2:3-4), in the end that's exactly what will happen for some (Revelation 20:14-15).

We are fortunate though, to have a Creator of grace and mercy, because He has provided an opportunity to avoid the consequence of death.  The sacrifice of His son gave us all the ability to be cleansed of the marks we add to our record, and even receive the reward of eternity with Him (Romans 6:23).  Before He was crucified, He taught us to pray that YHWH not lead us into temptation, but to deliver us from that evil, and should we fall into it to forgive us of those sins (Matthew 6:9-15).  So be thankful for YHWH's plan and love for us, and be sure to follow Yeshua's teaching in your prayer life.  He doesn't create the temptation, but He will provide a way out so that you will be able to bear it without sinning (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Shabbat shalom and YHWH bless you! 

-Rob and Sara Gene

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