Temptation is a reality, and something we all face. The key to overcoming temptation is where we choose to put our focus. Tillie the “ministry dog” gives a beautiful example of overcoming temptation by keeping her eyes on her master.
This is the third post in the Obedience study. In case you missed the first two:
The first two chapters of Genesis reveal Adam and Eve living in a world designed for them by their Creator. God provided everything they needed. There was no sin, no evil, no death, and no suffering. It was all VERY GOOD. The ONLY thing they had ever experienced was enjoying God’s love and perfect fellowship with Him. Something we can’t even begin to comprehend.
God gave them ONE simple, straightforward command. One. How hard could that be?
Genesis 2:16-17 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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.”
He even told them the consequences of disobedience. From verse 18 to verse 25, they obeyed God’s command and lived in perfect peace and harmony with God. They walked with Him and enjoyed His fellowship. We don’t know if the time period from verse 18 to verse 25 was minutes, hours, days, weeks, months or years. If their hearts were like mine, I think we can assume it was probably minutes or hours!
Temptation came in Genesis chapter 3. Satan didn’t bring sin into the world, he brought temptation.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
God’s one command is twisted into a question about God. Satan’s implication is that God is holding out on Eve, withholding something good that she should have. He is implying that God shouldn’t get to be the One to decide what is good and what is evil… that she should be able to decide that for herself.
Adam and Eve had no legitimate reason to question God’s goodness or His love for them. God had never done anything to give them any reason to doubt Him or His love for them. But after listening to Satan, Eve chose to NOT believe that God’s command was for her protection, safety and benefit. She chose to believe Satan’s lie. Satan laid the bait, but Eve chose to take the bite. That is the same temptation we all face today. That desire is in every person’s heart. We think we want to be our own god, running our own show, defining truth for ourselves.
Every time we sin we are looking God square in the face and saying “no, I will NOT obey You.” We are rejecting God’s Word and we are in rebellion against His authority. We are trying to put ourselves in a position of greater authority over our life than God. We are saying that we know better for our life than the God who created us. We are showing by our actions that we love our sin more than we love God, if we even love God at all.
James 1:13-15 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, brings for death.
Instead of rewards like Satan promised, Eve just had a mouthful of bitterness – shame, guilt, fear, alienation from God, and awareness of her sin. Satan’s offers SEEM right, but they are lies designed to pull us away from God
John 10:10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. [Jesus]
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.
If Eve had truly loved God, she would have rejected what Satan said and obeyed God. Instead she willingly chose to reject everything she knew to be true about God.
In this video with Tillie, I am going to use chicken jerky dog treats as her temptation. I need to point out that animals do not have a sin nature, so Tillie’s temptation comes from her natural instinct, not sin. When she is focusing on the treats, there is struggle for her. As soon as she puts her focus on me, she is more relaxed and much less tempted by the treats.
The key to overcoming temptation is where you choose to put your focus, and your heartfelt desire to obey your Master.