Saturday, December 27, 2008

Job 4.4 Temptation (1 of 2)

Job 4:17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?
18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:

We’ve discovered the identity or at least allegiance of the messenger to Eliphaz, yet, what do we do with the message? Remember the serpent in Genesis. He was a liar, but he told truth in his lie, even a truth that was not previously disclosed (“You shall become as gods knowing good and evil…”). Yet he also lied, in his denial of the certainty of their deaths.

We have established solidly, I believe, that spirit speaking was not of God. So if this spirit is not of God then its message is suspect. Not necessarily untrue, as the devil also used truth, though, to deceive (or lead astray). Of course, the deception doesn’t lie in whether the statement is true, but the intent of the thing. When did the deception of Eve begin? With what could have been an innocent question “Is it true that God hath said, Ye do not eat of every tree of the garden?” (YLT) because from the beginning he being subtle was intending to lead her astray meaning that even in a question which has no truth or falsity, there can be deception.

The mere fact that this spirit is not of God means whatever is said whether true or false is intending to discredit God. We could just skip over the statement, after all what good is it to study a possibly false and certainly malicious statement? It would seem none. But we must remember the principle from earlier concerning the filmmaker…no frame is wasted. What does God want us to see in this temptation?

Mat 4:1 Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

When in doubt about what something looks like we should always look to our example. That’s why he’s called the example. First thing that stands out, is why was Yeshua tempted? Memory would say that the first temptation being of bread means that he was tempted because he was hungry. But the truth in verse 1 is striking, he was tempted because he was lead “to be tempted.”

How can this be? It would be easy to say “oh that was so that we could know he was tempted.” But, I don’t have to see someone tempted to know they were. I’ve never needed the devil to meet me at the end of forty days of fasting to tempt me with bread, I’ve been tempted in the first five minutes of a day. Every time I go to the grocery store, or see someone who has what I want, I know temptation. The point could not have been to show us that he was tempted, because we have the rest of the gospels to show us his temptation. Didn’t the Pharasees tempt him (Matthew 16:1, 19:3)? Wasn’t he tempted to let the cup pass from him? Of course why else would he pray for it? Or do we think that he didn’t have the freewill to refuse the cup? If that were true then in what way would he be a high priest touched with our infirmities?

I think there were two reasons. The first, was unlike you and I before our redemption, he did not have what is understood as the sin nature. A huge topic in and of itself, but suffice to say that his spirit was in constant communion with God’s spirit—with the brief exception of an eternity on the cross. And since he was in constant submission, his soul never decided on it’s own to sin. He was the second Adam (1 Cor 15:45), and like the first Adam he was not compelled by an inner sentiment to do wrong. Or perhaps a better understanding would be, unlike the unredeemed man he did not lack the power to do right. Apart from God, man is incapable of doing right and by default he sins, it is not a compulsion but an inability that is the ‘sin nature.’ That is why we have to be freed from sin.

So in one sense it is to show us that Yeshua was tempted, because unlike unredeemed man tempted from his own internal inaptitude, Yeshua was tempted from the outside in. Just as we who are dead with Messiah are also. Thus like Adam, Yeshua and ourselves, are tempted by the serpent or other external sources. If—like post-fall man—Adam was unable to do right, what was the need for the serpent? He would have walked by the tree and snatched the fruit immediately.

Not to degress further, but imagine a child. A fallen child in our world when told not to do something being a new sinner just like the rest of us, has no compunction at all to violate any command he’s been given. He learns obedience through the rod of discipline. Internally he has no spirit telling him how to live right through it’s communion with God. Eventually we learn even apart from God not to do certain things because we will be punished by other men and maybe even by God, but there is no internal fortitude against wrong doing.

In contrast, Adam and Eve knew neither fear nor shame, nor were there any other people besides themselves. The fact that they did not immediately eat of the fruit, shows they had to learn unrighteousness. They had inner ability to not sin. But wait, what about the threat of death? How could they be effectively threatened with something they have never known in a perfect world? Everything in their lives is harmless! They have no experience with it.

You tell someone “Don’t do this or you’ll be killed,” and it’ll be hard to get them to do it because they do fear. I would argue that in reality, Eve simply took God at his word (or possibly Adam) that whatever death was, it was bad. There was no emotion attached to it, simply an acknowledgment of the truth just as we often talk about the death of Yeshua without it touching off any emotion when if we really understand it, it should be quiet different. Once the Serpent then challenged the truth, there was nothing stopping her. And once she had fallen, the threat of death was clearly not enough to keep Adam from following. If you had warned someone of death, and then someone said “you won’t get killed,” the person to whom they spoke would probably say “you try it first!” Why? Because they do fear death, it has weight in their minds. To someone who knew no pain or death, the ‘threat of death’ could be no more than an idea.

So the first thing we understand from the temptation of Yeshua is that he and we (because of his example) are not tempted from within, but from without and we have the ability to refuse. Since we know in truth that we still sin (not that we have to, or that it is inevitable, but simply that we do), this holds a huge promise of how we can submit to that inner spirit that keeps us from sin.

This leads us into Yeshua’s response to temptation.

Mat 4:2 And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.
3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.
4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

We’ve heard this message before, Yeshua replies with the word of God. The principle, reply with the word of God to temptation. Ask yourself, now why did Adam and Eve fail? These two accounts are perfect contrasts; First Adam (which is also the name of the species so Eve is included) and Last Adam. Eve (as half of the First Adam) was deceived and thus transgressed. Why was she deceived? This is key! How did she respond to the Serpent? It wasn’t with the Word of God, it was with the word of Man. “Nor touch it…” she said.

Well the first part was God’s Word, we might defend. But I would argue it’s the same as a lie. It is still a lie even if it contains truth because the intent is to deceive; can it still be the Word of God if we presume to add our own to it? If I quote scripture and add my own twist, attributing it to God then isn’t the entire statement not God’s? Truth does not come in words. Any word alone is not a truth; it is the statements, the assertions that convey truth, if one part lies the whole statement lies. The only difference between her lie and the serpent’s, was he intended to deceive, she accidentally deceived herself.

This of course makes Adam’s responsibility all the more severe because he was not deceived and from Yeshua’s example what he needed to do was simply answer with the Word of God. But there in comes his failing, he let Eve proceed instead of intervening to save her; and then when she had eaten he followed. Why? Again look to Yeshua, how did Yeshua deal with a bride separated by sin? He sacrificed himself trusting in the will of the Father to bring her back. What should Adam have done? Trusted God. In a sense, you could switch Job for Adam and Eliphaz for Eve.

This seems like a good dialogue, rather it is, Yeshua was tempted so that we like him could see how to overcome temptation as new creations, as New Adams. However, this only explains one reason why we are told of Yeshua’s temptation. It doesn’t answer the underlying, question why are we tempted? God doesn’t want us to sin, so why does God let us be tempted? For whatever reason, he is unwilling to stop it. We could be quick to jump on the freewill means temptation bandwagon, and freewill may be the mechanism of our temptation, and this would not be false.

Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Temptation is the combination of lust meeting a trap, in other words opportunity. Traps are baited with what they offer, even one that does not use bait is positioned around some natural bait. No one sets a bear trap in the middle of a desert and hopes to catch a bear. The point is temptation happens when our lust comes across bait, the thing it lusts after being offered to it. There are many beautiful women in the world, both in terms of personality and form, but not every married man commits adultery. There has to be the lust inside before it ‘conceives’ and brings out sin. Remember that the word lust does not mean necessarily a sexual desire, literally it means a longing. We also have the connotation that lust is necessarily bad, but scripture doesn’t see it that way.

Mat 13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.
17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

They were blessed because they get to see and hear the things that prophets and righteous men desired (lusted) after. This is also reflected in the aged scriptures.

Deu 5:21 Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Lusting and coveting are often used interchangeably by people, but they are not the same. The command here is actually two-fold, don’t desire (chamad meaning to delight in) your neighbor’s wife, the first use is Gen 2:9 referring to the trees that God made desirable. Desiring is not, wrong clearly God wanted us to desire his creation. The command then is not to make your neighbor’s wife pleasant to you. Does this mean that noticing the desirability of your neighbors wife is a sin? What if you saw a woman and found her desirable (which scripture does not condemn, Deu 21:11) but didn’t know she was married?

Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Chamad here is the “desired” part. Notice that it wasn’t when she saw that the tree was good…nor when it was pleasant to the eyes. She recognized that there was something pleasant (ta’avah meaning to long for), but in addition to that she saw it as a tree to be desired in the sense that God commanded we should not desire, not everything, but our neighbor’s things. The commandment is not against recognition of something desirable, it is against choosing to set your desire on it. The difference being “That is good and desirable,” and “I will desire to have that good.”

The second part of the command to not covet supports this. Covet avah meaning to wish for something. The first use of it by itself is in Numbers 11:34 when the now covenanted Israel tempts God to provide quail. A very interesting account when you look at it from the beginning. This is just after an incident of complaining which brought judgment. Notice how this begins…

Num 11:4 And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.

Who is lusting here? The mixed multitude started it and the natural Israelites continued it. The mixed multitude is mentioned first? There is an importance in this, as if God is saying how bindingly he takes their joining to his covenant. These gentiles aren’t just along for the ride, God says they’re driving the bus too, there is one law for both stranger and natural born. Now what are they lusting after, the goods. What goods? Is Egypt the only place with fish and cucumbers? The point of the desire is not the thing, it was the place. They’re lusting for what the world offers instead of what God promised. This is definitely forbidden things, it’s the equivalent of Lot’s wife looking back to Soddom. If you think about the analogy God continually makes between his people and a harlot; God’s problem is never what they desire, but whom they desire it from!

Hos 1:2 The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.

Hos 2:5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.
8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.

Providing a living picture of Israel, by YHVH’s direction Hosea marries a harlot to represent Israel. Notice in the second passage, why does their mother (Israel) chase after lovers (the Baalim)? To provide bread, water, wool, flax, oil and drink…which of those did God not promise to provide? None, according to the covenant if Israel followed him they would have all of those things. In fact according to Hosea God was providing all those things and they were attributing them to other gods. Her lovers were robbing her husband to give the harlot her hire.

A fundamental picture should be emerging now. God not Satan made all desirable things. That blows my mind! We are often mislead to believe that there are things we should not want as if the Devil could make something that is desirable and God is a killjoy trying to keep us from having fun with anyone else. God forbid that we should think that! Satan is stealing what God has made and offering it in a trap, but he didn't make the desirable thing! Everything we desire is of God.

“Wait, wait!” We say. “Temptation is desiring something we shouldn’t have!” But that’s not what the scripture says, temptation is when the desire meets the baited trap (enticement). What is the trap baited with? Something desirable. The desire isn’t the trap, it’s what is drawing you to the trap! What is desired is never the issue, it’s who is offering the desire. God didn’t tell fish not to eat bugs, but a fish should not take worm dangling on a string. Candy isn’t bad, but the stranger offering it to your child is! Desiring the beauty of a woman is not wrong, but don’t go to the adulteress; go to your wife!

If you think about it, really all lust is the same. The same lust that drives men to evil (sleeping with another man’s wife, stealing another man’s car) is the same lust that drives men to do good (protecting and serving your own wife or the unmarried woman in your community, protecting your investments or the investments of another man). The issue always comes down to who is offering it. As we saw earlier God called the tree of knowledge good, not evil. God didn’t want to refuse man knowledge God wanted man to come to God for knowledge; Satan is the offerer of the short cut. He’s the stranger with candy, the salesman with the free lunch. God is saying you need to take this path for your own good to find this thing you desire; Satan stole something God made to be desired and said “No, you don’t have to wait and work, come get it right here; now; on your terms!”

Now we can understand, lust is not sin. The sin is in trying to have that legitimate desire met by something on our terms in opposition to God’s which are for our own good. Now back to Numbers 11.

Interestingly here, the word for lusting is two words, Avah and Ta’avah. It’s as if they lust greatly or are longing to lust. They choose to desire it! The very next use is the command to not desire your neighbor’s wife or covet his stuff. The idea is not a command to not recognize desirable things, indeed how could God command us to not recognize his handiwork? How could one recognize the qualities of a good wife without evaluating the wives around him? How could God implant a longing for good, put good all around us, and then tell us not to long for it?

Clearly, lust as recognition is not the problem. The trap is not the problem. Even where the two meet is not the problem, it is when we decide to desire, long to lust, that is when we look at the bait and go “mmm…I would like to have that…in fact I will have that…or at least get as close as I can…maybe a little closer I’m safe here…one more step, I’m not springing the trap…” SNAP!!! Lust conceives and springs the trap thus there is sin.

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