Saturday, December 27, 2008

Job 4.5: Temptation (Part 2)

The way to deal with lust is not to deny and pretend we don’t desire anything, but to realize that all desirable things come from God. Therefore how to get them is by the way the giver designates. It is God’s desire to give us our desires just as a good husband desires to provide for the desires of his wife.

Psa 21:1 The king shall joy in thy strength, O LORD; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!
2 Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips. Selah.

The king rejoices in YHVH’s salvation because it was God that gave him his desire. This is just speculation on my part, but I wonder if when we read this “his heart’s desire” are we meant to read it “God gave him what his heart desired…” or are we meant to read it “God gave him that his heart desired…” I would argue that if it’s one then it’s the latter because the next phrase says that God gave him his request. Is David saying the same thing twice? Or is he saying that God both implants the desire and gives the fulfillment of the desire? Does God make the fruit of the tree only or does he make the hungering stomach also? Did God create woman only or did he first create a lonely man?

God is not trying to figure out how to get us to stop desiring, he put the desires there in the first place so that he could fill them. We need to stop thinking of the guy with the stolen Rolexes in the back alley as the supplier, and go to the WatchMaker.

So how do we do endure temptation, since Yeshua has shown us as New Adams that we can? We can’t stop the temptation because Yeshua himself was tempted, but without sin. This goes further into why we are tempted in the first place. We know the elements of temptation (not sin) are lust and trap, can we avoid either of those? No, even Yeshua had to have had lust and as we saw from Matthew he also had traps. How can I say that Yeshua had lust? Because he was tempted! You cannot temp the lustless. But as we’ve seen lust itself is not sin, it is the conception of desire (lust) and opportunity (trap). You can sidestep the trap when you see it or you can be ensared by it.

Gen 4:6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Cain had the blessing of YHVH pointing out the trap that lay at the door, but the temptation (lust and trap) were still there. Why didn’t God simply zap him with a bolt of perspective? This is the true nature of the bandwagon of freewill. I don’t say that to degrade it or criticize it, I’m saying we don’t understand it. People like freewill because they refuse the idea that some people cannot be saved because God has chosen them for destruction, and this is rightly so. The idea that God makes people who have no choice but to face eternal destruction can be rejected out of hand simply by the character of YHVH in scripture. If you study from the first five books alone and really understand the reasons for the commands, it becomes utterly impossible to believe that the same God who meticulously created, protected, and out of his lovingkindness instructed his people for their own good, would create people who had no ability to choose the course of life, when all of his commands are also based on his own character. It’s impossible without even looking at the rest of scripture.

The problem with freewill comes not from its validity, but from the ramifications that we choose to ignore. We would like to think that when we enter into a relationship with YHVH through the Messiah Yeshua, that God zaps us with everything we need. By that I mean, before I would get angry for unrighteous reasons, but now I simply don’t. When I would have been tempted, now I simply no longer have that desire. God simply opens up the program settings and flicks all the switches to the ‘overcomer’ position. Where is freewill then? In short, such people believe that their destiny is for God to strip away their freewill. God’s whole point with your life is for you to sin by your freewill then choose him once so that God can take it away and make you a robot for all eternity? That’s the ‘good news’? You cannot have free will one moment to let you choose God, and then God against your will rewrite who you are in your soul. You must continually cooperate, that is the double edge of freewill.

One of the upsides to true lust (biblically understood) is if/when we fully understand that all desire comes from God and therefore can only be met his way, then desire can always winnow out truth in the same sense that a healthy non-addicted person’s tastes will always crave what the body actually needs. By that I mean the bait for the trap is something real that God intended you to have by coming to him. In the real world, when you covet another man’s car it’s not the desire for a car that is wrong, it is the fact that you are choosing to desire someone else’s car. You’re choosing to make someone other than God the provider…isn’t that what Hosea was saying? Saying your lover provides? In other words, who you see as your provider is the one you see as God.

Why do we covet? The sense of the commandment is that we are choosing to desire, why? What good do we think to obtain by setting our hearts on something that we do not have? Either we believe that eventually we will be able to have this thing from its owner, or we believe it is the only thing that will meet our desire and even though it is unattainable this is the closest we can get to it. Why don’t we wait on God? Because we don’t believe he will provide for our desires…oh maybe, pie in the sky, he will eventually give us something, but it won’t be as good as if I have this thing right now. We believe that we know better what is good, and if it’s attainable then we have the power to provide it ourselves or no one has the power to provide it if it is unattainable. In other words, coveting makes myself into my own provider. I become my own god because either I will get it for me, or no one can. Who you see as your provider is the one you see as God.

So the upside to lust is that when you understand what you desire, it will always lead you to God. This applies to the issue of the misunderstanding freewill and many other false doctrines because in truth we don’t desire these things. No healthy soul can convincingly make a case “oh yes, I would like to not be able to choose.” We want structure and boundaries as all children do, and that are enforced in our lives, but no one wants to be a robot.

I know this seems a convoluted train of thought, I’ve been sitting here myself trying to figure out which parts are important and which are tangential. But what I’m trying to bring home is the reality that God wants us to desire, to long, to lust. And there will be temptation also because there will be traps in this life because we still have freewill and there are things that we want and have not. And since as Man we always will have freewill just as Yeshua still has freewill, I would argue that even in the resurrection we will have temptation. The difference will be that with spirits in communion with God’s Spirit, and souls in submission to the will of God coming down through the Spirit, we will always sidestep the traps. But the inescapable truth is that temptation will always be with us. We can’t say that we’ll have no desire because God gave us desire, what would be the point of living if there was no desire? Just to do things that you have no desire to do? We might as well be rocks just sitting. And we can’t say that we will always have our desires instantly met either, what would be the point of all God’s talk about rewarding if everyone would have everything they wanted as soon as they wanted it regardless of faithfulness? Are you telling me that saved-by-fire-Joe-Schmo will instantly have the same level of reward as on-fire-cross-bearing-Jane-Schmo?

God has never been one of instant gratification. Do you make children happy by giving them everything they want? No, there is a process to happiness. Making them work for things actually increases their gratitude and enjoyment of the things they are given. Contrary to modern thinking, you actually increase the value of something by being stingy with it!

Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

Who is blessed? The man who doesn’t walk, stand, or sit with the ungodly, but instead delights in the torah…

Psa 40:4 Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

Who is blessed? He who trusts in YHVH. Sure there are obvious good things that befall the people in these two Psalms. In 1, the man is planted and all his works are established. In the second it doesn’t say, but obviously whose trust will be rewarded more than the one who trusts in the giver of all good? I’m saying that the blessing is not the being established, it’s the abstaining and the delighting. The man is blessed because of the process he is undergoing, not because of the collateral good. We think of blessing as being given something, “Oh I’m rich so I am blessed.” But how many rich people can we think of who are not happy? And that is what this use of blessing means, it is not the word barak like when we are told to bless God, it is the word esher for happiness. Happiness comes by a process of delighting and trusting in YHVH.

So unless in the resurrection happiness will come for the first time in the form of a lightning bolt of prozac, there has to be process and growth. And where there is process and growth there is something desirable that is not yet obtained. Or would we say that unlike now, we will not have the ability to see what we lack? Is our contentness in the resurrection based on ignorance of what we lack? A lack or desire for God's goodness we lack? Or is our contentness based on our focus, communion, and trust in the one who will provide in the best timing for what we desire?

There will be people more grown and people less, people more blessed and people less blessed…but it will all be without sin, pain, death, or sorrow. Therefore, temptation is a good thing because it is the means of growth. It is by desiring and now having that we are driven to process. Let’s add one more thought to our analogy of the baited trap. We know that the trap is laid with stolen goods which we rightly desire, and placed in a place to tempt us to take the quick and easy path of satisfaction on our own terms. But as we realized earlier the same lust that draws us to do evil, draws us towards good. Consider the trap, once spotted as a trap. Realizing the truth that the food is desirable, but that here it has been laid to my destruction, by an enemy…instead of despairing, my God-designed hunger (lust) now draws me away to seek the life-giving sustenance of my maker.

Pro 16:26 The appetite of the laboring man laboreth for him; For his mouth urgeth him thereto. (ASV)

Again the upside of lust is that once we have understood what we are actually lusting after (the goodness of God) then the bait will not satisfy…it’s like looking at a twinky and going… “naw…that won’t really hit the spot.” Now the hunger pulls you away from the trap, to seek the source of goodness. How does that work? Because the hunger pushes you to labor! The hunger pushed you to the process! God gave us lust to drive us to the process, bringing us closer to him!

Pro 27:7 The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.

This is why temptation is good! Why is the honeycomb loathsome? Because the man is full, his hunger is satisfied so even the enticing thing has a negative value. On the other hand, even the bitter thing is sweet to the hungry, why? Because it satisfies hunger. The temptation is good because even though it is bitter, the hunger (lust) drives us to the labour (process of happiness) that bearing the temptation will bring us closer to God and satisfy our hunger. The hunger can be mastered, like Cain we can rule over it and make it work for us. Side step the trap and press on to the source. Let’s go back to James.

Jas 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Blessed or happy is the man who endures…because when he is tried—the word means acceptable because what comes through the fire (the silver or gold) is the part that is acceptable what is consumed or burned out is the dross. It is the process of trying that makes the material acceptable—he shall be given life that God promised to those that love him (if we love him we keep his commandments).

Temptation is a good thing because it is the lust driven process that brings us to acceptability when we love him.

Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

If we are made acceptable by the temptation, then we must master the element of lust and refuse the traps to become that acceptable vessel.

Jas 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Finally, he gives this warning or instruction on how not to be lead to a trap by your lust, “Don’t err…every good gift…comes from the Father…” What is more desirable than the good and perfect gift?

Temptation makes us acceptable, we must have it that is why…

Jas 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Temptation (lust meeting a trap) works towards your completion!

1Pe 1:6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

Temptations maybe bitter but they make your faith precious, in fact they perfect it…even the salvation of your souls. That is why they are to be rejoiced in! You’re in temptation? Guess what, God is making you perfect! You could go on and on in scripture and see how this is true. Check for yourself and see the positive way scripture speaks of temptation remembering that temptation, trial, and tribulation are all used synonymously.

There is one more thing to note though. The epistles all speak of trial as something to be met with joy because of what it does to your faith and how it makes you acceptable. However, if you look at the gospels you find that Yeshua had a seemingly contradictory view.

Mat 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Mar 14:38 Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.

Luk 22:46 And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

All the references to temptation are of something to be prayed to be avoided. So how does this work? It’s short and sweet, it’s good to learn to sidestep the traps, but it’s better to desire the unbaited food.

Luk 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

The trap brings with it a danger of falling into the trap. Certainly God will keep us from a trap that is too hard, 1 Cor 10:13. But God knows we have limits to our strength, why? Because he didn’t open us up and flip all our switches to ‘overcomer.’ It’s a process of learning to overcome, of being remade into the image of Messiah, of being renewed in mind…it’s a process. As God burns out the dross through temptation, he makes more room to fill us with good stuff. We grow to fill the areas that were previously filled with weakness.

So we pray not to enter into temptation, but be delivered…but just as sometimes God knows its best to not give us our daily bread; and just as Yeshua, who was closer to God than any of us, still faced temptations we too will face temptations despite our prayers. Pray that you do not enter temptation, so that you will not be beaten down and your faith be destroyed; but when you do, know that it is perfecting your faith and saving your soul so rejoice for the glory that is coming.

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