Gold Coast Bereans

Out of Ghana, West Africa; Christian hearts and critical minds seeking, speaking and writing the truth with love. This is a conversation of a group of friends, now living in the USA and the UK, who have known each other for more than 20 years.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Trusting God's Word, Obedience, Temptation etc

Gaius Columbus writes-

In a previous communication (oh excellent Calorius), I stated that I believed that the devil’s strategy in the garden was not to intimidate Adam and Eve or to seduce them with the beauty and taste of the fruit, but to infuse doubt about God’s purposes into their minds. I wanted to confirm that this was indeed true, so I read the account again. I think my statement was close to the mark. What I found most curious and interesting was that the very first recorded temptation had none of the features we now typically associate with temptation. By this, I mean the Devil never really told Adam and Eve that the fruit was beautiful or that it was good for nutrition. All he did was to suggest that God was being unfair to them and cheating them out of knowledge which was their right to have. Having done this, all the other reasons for disobeying God were not supplied by him but actually were provided by man himself (in this case, Eve)!

In doing this, Satan worked like a master judo fighter: he used man’s own strengths—his intellect, his curiosity about God’s creation—to work against him (man), co-opting Eve (and ultimately Adam) to do his (Satan’s) purposes. His cunning rests in the fact that he did all this without expending more energy than was necessary. All that was necessary was the nudge, the catalyst of doubt. After that man’s own minds did the rest of the work!

Genesis 3. 1-6. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

I wonder how often this still applies today. In creating a backsliding heart, does the Devil still get Christians to disagree or become discontent with God’s moral code first—suggesting perhaps that God’s Word no longer applies to them today or is not applicable to their peculiar situation, or has failed them or deprived them? Does he first suggest to such a Christian that he or she knows or can do better than Scripture suggests, or whisper to this potential backslider that God has not treated him/her well, creating as Paul says a root of bitterness from which then flows a gradual slide to a cold heart?

Perhaps, C.S. Lewis describes this in the Screwtape letters—it has been a long time since I read it. I suspect that if Satan can get us to agree with this premise, like he did with Adam and Eve, his work is essentially done. He “has” us where he wants us. For having done this, doesn’t the Christian begin to do all the work? Does he not begin to supply all the other reasonable/rational reasons why continuing to breaking God’s code is actually not such a bad thing?

We see this often enough. The man who continually steals justifies it by saying he intends to use the money to support his family, and believes it; the leader, tyrant or dictator who lies to or oppresses his people and says it is in for national interest and security, and believes it; the unfaithful spouse blames his indiscretions on his or her hapless marriage, and believes it. He or she argues that his or her emotional well being is at stake. All of these reasons: support of family, national interest and emotional well being are desirable things. The problem is that they are supplied as “good” reasons to justify a course of action that has already been embraced and is in opposition to God’s laws. In this state, any Christian becomes quite good at finding justification for acting out desires of a heart that is now bent on breaking God’s law.

So how do protect our hearts? I think the only remedy is to ensure that our devotion to the Father stays strong. We do this by guarding our hearts against all bitterness and false knowledge that exalts human understanding over God’s revealed word. We do it like our Lord did, by rebutting the insinuations of the devil with God’s word. Perhaps this is why the gospels and epistles are so filled with reminders of God’s love for us, His good purposes for our lives, and His interest in our well-being. We will do well to bind these to our hearts. Perhaps these writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit knew how important a right understanding of God is. For isn’t the converse what idolatry truly is—i.e., any false representation of God, including all false notions of Him? - Gaius Columbus


I am with you here (oh noble Gaius). I believe there is also another way in which adding to God's direction is dangerous.

Notice how Eve claimed God said "...and you must not touch it..." God never said that as far as we know. What He said was, "You must not EAT of it". At first it seems harmless, or even positive, that Eve is adding to God's requirements. What can be better than extra obedience? However, this extra part must have contributed to the feeling that God's law was unreasonable. It also made the whole thing more incredulous. After all, what's wrong with touching the plant? How can that hurt? It's such a beautiful plant. God must have some other reason.

This is why I am so particular about things like the tithing doctrine, because I fear that by adding our own bits to God's requirements we make them burdensome, unreasonable and our minds more prone to temptation. This was one of the problems of the Pharisees, who fasted very frequently and "tithed of mint and dill and cumin" but neglected the weightier matters of the law. There are many Christians who tithe faithfully today but are neglectful of true charity or Christian responsibility.

I think one of our very first protections against temptation is to learn the requirements of God accurately. Not only must we not relax on His expectations, but we must be careful not to add to them. Just my fitty cents - Calorius.


1 Cor 4:6 and 2 John 9 give Biblical evidence for not going beyond the word of God as you two have pointed out. I see two main ways in with Satan corrupts God’s children

-First he goes to the extreme opposite of what God says (e.g. Love vs. hate, mercy vs. merciless, happiness vs. sadness/depression).

-Second he corrupts Godly virtues in our life with satanic imitations, the angel of light phenomenon (love vs. indulgence, mercy vs. leniency, freedom vs. licentiousness, happiness vs. excessive mirth or coarse joking as in the vulgar sitcoms).

Almost any Holy Spirit fruit listed in Galatians 5 can be mapped out in these two ways. However I personally think if God declares something off limits one should not even bother to entertain it for a second. Jesus defined sin to include the thoughts- e.g. adultery is really the thought not the actual physical contact. Thus if God says the fruit is bad then for me I accept it and I won't even look at it. I am not sure if Adam was in the Stone Age in Eden but knowing what I know now, I would have found a machete and hacked the tree down the tree to eliminate any chance of eating its fruit, you know what I mean.

If you also analyze the passage carefully you see that the senses and the mind worked together to lead Eve to sin- 'she saw the tree was a delight to the eyes'; 'it was good for food'; lastly but not the least 'it was desirable to make one wise'.

Here's my point: sin originates from the flesh and the unregenerate mind. This is why Paul’s writings are so full of warnings about renewing your mind (Rom 12:2, I Cor 2) and keeping the flesh subdued. Anything that feeds these two things will invariably result in sin. Why do you think advertising is so successful? How often do you something you didn’t know you wanted or needed and suddenly find very good reasons to get?

God's solution is for us to live off the center of our beings- the Spirit- which in the Christian is to be filled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit then begins to exert control by renewing your mind and restoring your will to an active form where you choose what is right and best according to God's will as God reveals it through His word primarily (emphasis on primarily because God can speak through circumstances and other means as long as they fall in line with His Word).

Basically I am saying that man is a spirit, soul and body (1 Thess 5:23, Heb 4:12). God works through the spirit of man (John 4:24) by His Holy Spirit and Satan through the flesh and the unregenerate mind. Thus I will be careful about what I feed to my mind be it in images or other physical attributes because you may be giving ground to Satan to launch an attack on you. I am simply sounding a caution about the statement that "it is ok to look at the fruit". Maybe you don't need to physically chop the tree down but our paths should as as far from it as is possible. - Alien Warrior


Point taken. Actually, I'm not saying it was OK to touch the fruit. What I'm saying is that I think it was wrong to say that God said they should not touch the fruit, if God did not say that. I agree with AW that it is often useful to set additional boundaries for ourselves. Just that we should not claim it is God who said it. – Calorius


Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: adam and eve
Were Adam and Eve Framed?

January 23, 2007 at 3:34 PM  
Anonymous Annang said...

I agree with both Calorius & AW about the importance of accurate interpretation of God's Law in relation to obedience and overcoming temptations. Additional
boundaries are OK but they also come with their own problems.

Adding to God's law as a means of ensuring that you do not disobey at all may sound humanly good and pious, but also brings with it, at least the potential, of us feeling that His burdens are too heavy and His yoke too difficult. This of course is contrary to the "Rest" that the Lord promises us as
His disciples.

Christians over the centuries have
"mortified the flesh" with the laudable but sadly mistaken intention that it enriches their holiness. I think that kind of adding, may sound preventative, but the devil finds it a useful tool of alienating Christians from the affection and love of God and
making us feel "deprived". You can almost sense in Eve's statement of addition, a complaint about the burden of obeying God. As has been pointed out, that attitude is dangerous and is a prelude to yielding to temptation

Thanks, Annang

January 26, 2007 at 6:10 AM  

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