Showing posts with label Temptation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Temptation. Show all posts

Sunday, November 05, 2023

Jungles and Gardens

There is a big difference between a jungle and a garden.

Gardens have gardeners. Jungles do not. In the jungle, vines and weeds grow everywhere, sometimes strangling new growth and keeping desirable plants from blooming. Trees you don’t want block the sun from reaching those you do want. The root systems of vegetation that produces nothing useful suck up water needed by fruit-bearing growth. If you want a garden and not a jungle, it won’t happen naturally. Somebody has to tend it.

Eden was a garden, not a jungle. Those “somebodies” were Adam and Eve.

Monday, October 31, 2022

Anonymous Asks (221)

“Why are so many Christian public figures caught in scandals?”

The apostle Paul wrote about stumbling blocks that threaten to trip us up, destroy our public testimony, and try our faith to the breaking point: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

If this is truly the case — and note that it’s God’s faithfulness upon which this promise stands — then why do so many Christian public figures succumb to temptation?

Monday, July 11, 2022

Anonymous Asks (205)

“Does Satan have to get God’s permission to attack Christians?”

You know how this goes: “I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Which do you want first?”

Good News and Bad News

Let’s go with the good. God certainly offers a significant level of protection to those who serve him. Satan complained that God had “put a hedge” around Job and his household, preventing Satan from changing Job’s circumstances or revoking the blessings God had given him. Likewise, the Lord Jesus informed Peter that Satan had demanded to sift the disciples like wheat. That sure sounds like an attack to me … but an attack Satan could not have initiated unilaterally.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Anonymous Asks (72)

“How is it fair that God tested Adam in Eden when he knew Adam was destined to fail?”

I am indebted to my co-writer Immanuel Can for the response that follows. He has helped me to see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil a little differently than I used to.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

God’s Eyelids

God is spirit. I think we can confidently affirm that spirits do not have physical features like we do.

So what’s this the psalmist says about God’s eyelids then? Seems a strange expression:

“The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man. The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”

Hmm.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

More Teaching Won’t Help

Yesterday I drew attention to what at first glance might appear to be an imbalance in the teaching of the book of Proverbs. Solomon gives many dire warnings about “women on the make” to young men, but no warnings at all to young women concerning the dangers of lustful men.

This was not because God is uninterested in maintaining the virtue of women, as we will see shortly. However, ancient Eastern societies, and especially Israel, had a culture of built-in familial and legal protections for ordinary women which made them difficult for men on the prowl to access or seduce, and this without imposing on them pillbox-style face-coverings and body bags.

And of course there was no internet in those days. Where temptation is concerned, that was far from a negative.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Ripple Effect

“For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me.”

There’s a new law in Alabama, and it has become the occasion for a great deal of sin. I can’t go anywhere without hearing about it or being provoked to talk about it. If you’re on Twitter you’ll already know that most of the sin is verbal, and the vast majority of it advocates for wrongdoing: “I had one, and I feel FINE about it! If you’re a good person, you’ll support it too.”

Relax, I’m not going to recycle badly overheated rhetoric. I have a more general point to make.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Missing Backstop

It was I who kept you from sinning against me.”

Francis Thompson famously referred to the “Hound of Heaven”, his metaphor for a God whose hand is so relentlessly upon the affairs of a person’s life that the divine influence can be neither evaded nor ignored.

There have been times when I too had a very strong impression God was personally on my case, and that all my efforts to circumvent or evade his will were doomed to end in utter futility. At other times, his impact on my choices and the circumstances around them, if present at all, has been incredibly subtle. Absent evidence of God’s direct involvement, to ascribe any specific decisions I have made in this life to the influence of providence would be, I think, quite presumptuous.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Drawn Away

“But refuse to enroll younger widows, for when their passions draw them away from Christ, they desire to marry and so incur condemnation for having abandoned their former faith.”

It’s not just young widows who need to worry about being drawn away from Christ by worldly passions, and it’s not just women more generally. The symptoms and objects of earthly desire vary from person to person, but the unshakable conviction that the grass on the other side of the fence is somehow greener than the grass on my side is a lie of the devil we must all contend with.

Here, the specific passion in view is not anything evil. In and of itself, the impulse to marry is not abnormal or unhealthy. Everybody wants to know and be known, to feel secure, to have someone to care for and to care for them.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Anonymous Asks (3)

“Is feeling same-sex attraction a sin? Is it even a choice?”

This is a highly relevant pair of questions. The Left, which includes most of our media, celebrates and unrelentingly promotes homosexuality. To the first question, most would answer, “Of course not!” This is primarily because they do not believe in sin in the first place, and those who do believe in it insist that intolerance is the worst sin of all. Homosexual attraction doesn’t even rate a mention on their list.

As to the second question, the Left, popular culture and the media offer us no consistent answer. Though many argue for the existence of a “gay gene” (for which solid evidence has yet to be produced but is felt to exist somewhere), others insist that at least for some, sexuality is fluid, and their choice in that area is a basic human right.

Monday, July 16, 2018

An Unguarded Minute

Many years ago, a man who served the Lord in a local church I visited regularly (and whose lunchtime hospitality I had enjoyed at least once) suddenly and dramatically left his wife for a younger woman. He was sixty-something at the time, if I remember correctly, which struck me as a strange age for a man to succumb to a sexual sin of which there was no previous evidence in his life.

I puzzled that one over for a while. While it’s not impossible that the fellow’s heart and mind were full of secret lusts and unrequited fantasies going back years, I think it rather unlikely. Rather, it seems quite possible to me that he got blindsided by a temptation out of left field in an area in which he had little experience. Or, as Hall and Oates put it, “An unguarded minute has an accident in it.”

It seems to me we have biblical precedent for that.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Lead Us Not

I’ve always kinda wondered why the Lord instructed his disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” After all, James is clear that God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

So why should we ask God not to do a thing we already know he won’t do?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Snare Is Broken

We have escaped like a bird
  from the snare of the fowlers;
  the snare is broken,
  and we have escaped!

The escape David refers to in Psalm 124 was a literal, physical one, from an enemy that would have swallowed both him and his alive if it could; an enemy with “teeth” that regarded him as “prey”. He uses metaphors in his praise, but there was nothing metaphorical about the things from which he escaped. Very likely it was cold steel or a slew of arrows aimed in his direction.

The escape I’m thinking about is of a different sort.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Exam Return

I walked by a box in a college foyer last week on which was marked the words “Exam Return”.

A little earlier I had been listening to a meditation on the way the Lord Jesus communicated truth to his disciples. On a number of occasions the speaker recognized in the Lord’s technique what he called the “Teach-Test” method, and gave a few examples that seemed to bear out what he was saying.

Good enough so far.

Monday, September 19, 2016

What’s Behind the Scenes

The Christian’s nemeses — world, flesh, devil — do not all operate precisely the same way.

The world allures us. Flesh betrays us. But neither worldly attraction nor physical desire require an active intelligence operating behind the scenes. I tend to think Christians who blame Satan and his scheming agents for every bad choice they have made are probably ascribing to the powers of darkness a greater level of interest in their personal affairs than is really the case. In our fallen world, it is likely that most of our failures are a combination of our own inclination to self-destruct and the detritus of lives that have done so already.

But not always.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Testing, Testing …

What happened in the garden of Eden — and the resulting fall of mankind and the subjection of creation to the futility that we observe daily — has been the subject of near-endless discussion over the centuries. Much speculation is on record as to the motives of God in the test presented to Adam and Eve.

And that’s what it is: speculation. We may have all kinds of ideas why God did what he did, but in scripture we do not find the answer spelled out for us. Wise men are careful not to draw conclusions that go beyond the available evidence.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Eden and Variety

Has to be squash in here somewhere ...
We’ve been considering Eden and the lessons we learn there about who God is and how He chooses to relate to His creation. Before the Fall we have a unique view of God that is unfettered by sin and the concessions sin has made necessary. Eden shows us God moving in His creation in the way He wishes, without constraint. As such it is one of the best places to see God’s character.

We began by noting that God desires to bless His creatures. In fact, He delights to bless and it is His first and favourite work. For mankind, being blessed is also a delight. Working and being given work to do was a delight. Fellowship was a delight. The name “Eden” literally means “delight” and so it was — a delight to both God and mankind.

Something else that we pause to note about Eden; there was an astounding variety.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Exam Return

The most current version of this post is available here.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Snare Is Broken

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, January 24, 2014

God’s Eyelids

The most recent version of this post is available here.