When we are in the pits and problems come, remember the word afflictions. Although it’s the time that God does some of His best work, the same goes with Satan. He will exploit the fact that you’re in the pits. And that’s when he will spin lies at you and tempt you. Remember, his ultimate goal is to separate you from God. He hates God and wants to hurt Him anyway he can – and he does that through you and I. But God, causes all things to work to good – including temptation.
Temptation is our opportunity to prove and test our faith in God. That may sound strange, but I think we can look at the very first temptation of mankind to explain.
Genesis 2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,
Genesis 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
In these two verses we see a picture forming in our minds of how this tree looks. It had to look appealing and attractive in order for it to become a temptation and a tool for the serpent to use. So God purposely makes the tree that way and then tells man that he can eat anything else in the garden…except this tree. This tree, as attractive as it is, could not be eaten from.
Why? Why would God purposely place something so beautiful and appealing in the garden? Why would He put temptation in the middle of perfection? Why does God give the opportunity for sin?
God’s desire is to have a relationship with us. He doesn’t want a bunch of mindless robots roaming around the earth and mechanically loving God simply because they are programmed to. Guys, why did you ask your wife to marry you? You wanted her to choose you – to choose to love you and her desire is the same. She wanted you to choose her. You both desired the other to love you, not because they had to, but because they chose to.
God desires a relationship with us. The desire is so great that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son on the cross to bridge the chasm that sin created. God wants us to choose Him, not because we have to, but because we want to! And we cannot choose if we are never granted the free will to do so.
Now, if the tree had ugly fruit on it that reeked like the day after a chili cook off, this wouldn’t be an issue! It’s easy to say no to something that’s not appealing or attractive. That’s why temptation has to look appealing. It must look good on the outside. But it’s what’s on the inside that packs the punch. Inside that temptation, once bitten into, is that ugly fruit that reeks like the day after a chili cook off! It’s rotten and evil to the core.
So God makes this attractive tree to give man the opportunity to choose God and exercise his gift of free will Man has the opportunity to prove to themselves that they indeed can choose God over their own pleasure.
Enter the serpent.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. ¶ He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Genesis 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
Genesis 3:3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Genesis 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
Genesis 3:5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The devil begins with a lie, but he does something worse than a flat out lie. He takes the truth and taints it with untruth. Look at verse 5. He says that they will be like God. Man was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). But like Pastor said this morning, man is not God, nor is man a god. Man is man, made in the image of God.
The devil excels at mixing tainted truth and untruth together to create a deadly cocktail that will cause you to become drunk and lose control should you accept the cup he offers you.
Eve takes the cocktail, or rather, the fruit, bites into it and gives some to her husband.
Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
And sin enters the world. The free will choice they made was the wrong one. They failed the test.
When we face times of affliction, be on guard and ready. The devil prowls around like a lion looking for someone to pick off – someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Lions purposely look for ones that are weak to pick off. They make easier targets. When we are weak and we’ve had “one of those days”, that’s the time to strengthen yourself in the Lord as David did after he and his men lost their wives and children. (1 Samuel 30:6) That’s the time to remember that God has a purpose in this trial. God is desiring for you to choose Him.
Think about it like this. If you were never tested in school, then you wouldn’t pay as close attention to the teacher and the work that was asked of you. In fact, what’s the point of school if you were never tested to discover what you’ve learned?
However, because there was a test at the end of a section, you kept yourself alert and ready. You knew there was going to be an opportunity to prove to your teacher and yourself how much you learned through that section. You prepared yourself for test day.
Indeed it is like that with God. God has sections of our lives where we are growing and learning by leaps and bounds. We feel as though we are right on track with God and our walk is exactly what it should be.
But God interrupts a normal day – it’s test day! Now is the time to put to test what you’ve learned and how you’ve matured. It is only through testing that this happens and we discover what’s inside us.
God will not waste any opportunity when we are tested through temptation. He means it all for our good, even when we fail. We are given the opportunity, in spite of our mistakes, to turn back to Him and learn from those mistakes. And growth happens. God doesn’t waste anything – including our mistakes.