Trust and Temptation — 13 February 2020

Genesis 3:1–20, James 1:12–16, Hebrews 2:13–18 (read online ⧉)

The reality is that humanity has a hard time trusting God. The story of Adam and Eve is a great allegory of humanity and trust. Adam, especially, should have trusted God wholeheartedly. Eve, too, should have trusted God and should have trusted Adam. However, Eve listened to the serpent. Adam, in turn, listened to Eve. They who had access to God as they did still trusted someone else over God. Part of this, it seems, is immediacy. The serpent was in their immediate surroundings. This is why the world can be dangerous to our spiritual well-being. We are in it. It has immediacy in our lives. It can pull us away from God. Even when we fully believe that we trust God, the world can still pull us away. Sometimes it will be little things. Sometimes it will be big things.

This awareness becomes important as we go through life. One of our big temptations, as we saw in the story of Adam and Eve is to blame other people. However, if we do that too much, people begin to avoid us. We, needing affection, will often turn to something else to blame. Sometimes we’ll blame political parties or government (yes, it involves people, but generally people who are disconnected from our daily lives). Sometimes we’ll blame chance. As James points out, however, we also blame God. People have blamed God for the temptation of Adam and Eve. “God should have known and prevented it,” they’ll say. “And, since God didn’t prevent it, God cannot be good, and must be evil…” Yes, it goes downhill quickly. James is making that exact point. For once it is God’s fault that we are tempted, the slippery slope down to God is evil comes into play. It’s not that you couldn’t stop there, but that many can’t. There are certain Christian traditions that say (in effect) that while God perfectly controls all things, and while God is not evil, there is still evil, so it’s a mystery.

That doesn’t, let’s be honest, work very well. It also put into doubt as shown by the passage in Hebrews. None of us want to be tempted. So, if Jesus (the Son of God, and part of the Triune God) is tempted, that would mean that God wants God to be tempted. If we, who are fallen and sinful, don’t want to be tempted, why would God want to be tempted? It is here that we have to make a turn. God’s holiness isn’t diminished by temptation, it would be diminished if temptation was succumbed to. As Jesus didn’t succumb to temptation, Jesus’ holiness wasn’t diminished. So, what does this have to do with trust? Jesus, as a man, trusted God’s plan, and leaned on that and his love of God and his knowledge that God loved him. Jesus was tempted in alignment with God’s plan, not because God wanted the temptation to occur, but to show that Jesus was both God and man, showing people that God loved the Creation and was willing to die for it.

1) How do your own temptations inhibit your trust of other people? How about your trust of God?

2) How does temptation and blame go together? Why do you think that is?

3) Other than the basic, “God is not evil,” why is it a dangerous practice spiritually to blame God?

Action: Decide on one (and only one) temptation to place before God. Surrender it. Pray about it and surrender it every day.

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