Summary: The basics of temptation have never changed. By looking at Satan’s original temptation of Eve in the Garden, we can recognize temptation when it comes and be better equipped to resist it.
1. What is the source of temptation?
a. Satan not God
b. Our willingness to give an audience (foothold)
2. What is the appearance of temptation?
a. Close to the truth
b. Good, pleasant, desirable
3. What is the result of temptation?
i. Putting our desires ahead of God’s will
ii. Spreading it around
iii. Open eyes
b. Resisting (1 Corinthians 10:13)
i. You’re not alone
ii. God is faithful
iii. You have a way of escape
When we lived overseas, pigeon was a game bird. They roosted on the cliffs of the eastern side of the island in the morning and would fly across to the western cliffs around the middle of the day. When I hunted them, I knew their pattern. The problem was, they flew so high and fast, they were nearly impossible to hit. The hardest thing was to get the first one. You’d have to be almost a perfect shot to get the first one. But once you got one, it was easier to get the second one. See, once you got one, you’d leave it laying in the field like a decoy. Then the next one flying by would slow down, bank, and fly a little bit lower to see what his buddy in the field was doing. And then he got to join him. Once there were four or five in the field, it was so easy it almost wasn’t sporting anymore. The unsuspecting birds would look down, see the bait and take it. They were tempted, succumbed to the temptation and my 12-gauge made sure they paid the price. That is the basics of temptation, isn’t it? And it’s really no different than the way we’re tempted every day. See, the basics of temptation have never changed. Our passage tonight tells the history of the first time man was tempted. Since the basics have never changed, by looking at how Satan tempted Eve, we can learn to recognize his tactics. Tonight, I want each of us to be able to recognize the pattern of temptation. And by recognizing it, I want us to be better equipped to resist it. To do that, we’re going to look at the answers to three questions about temptation. The first question is: What is the source of temptation?
If you’ve been in church more than five minutes, you know that temptation doesn’t come from God. James 1:13 says, “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.” God does not tempt us. But He does test us. The Bible is full of examples of God testing man. As you go through Genesis, the bitter water of Mara was a test. The Manna was a test. Even the giving of the Law was a test. In the New Testament when you look at Jesus’ temptation, how did that begin? It began by the Holy Spirit leading Him into the wilderness where He would be tempted by the devil. God does not tempt—He tests. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a test. God placed the tree in the midst of the Garden and told Adam not to eat of it. He placed it there as a test of Adam’s obedience. Now the interesting thing is that in the original language, tempt and test is the exact same word. So what is the distinction? When God placed a tree in the Garden and made a rule for the sole purpose of seeing whether or not Adam obeyed it… what makes that a test and not temptation? Because even though the original word is the same, the intent is different. That’s how translators came up with two different English words. The intent behind a test is that God wants us to obey His will. The intent behind temptation is that Satan wants us to rebel against God’s will. God placed the tree in the Garden seeking Adam’s obedience to His command. Satan took God’s command and twisted it seeking Adam and Eve’s rebellion and destruction. God’s tests seek obedience. Satan’s temptations seek rebellion. That’s the difference. You can look at it like this, God sets the rules to remind us that He is God and we’re not. Satan tempts us to break God’s rules so that in essence we elevate ourselves above God like he did. But it’s one thing to recognize Satan as the source of all temptation. It’s another thing to blame it all on him. Remember the old Flip Wilson comedy sketches? He used to always talk about how the devil made him do it. We tend to give the devil way too much credit. I heard a John MacArthur tape the other day where he talked about a new couple in his church that had come from a Charismatic background. They said that they had never been taught that God was sovereign. They had always been taught that Satan was sovereign. Well, that really confused opened my ears up. I knew that Charismatics were doctrinally confused, but I didn’t think they taught that. What they were saying was that they had always believed that everything was Satan’s fault. That he caused everything. If the baby got sick—Satan did it. If they lost their job—Satan did it. If they wrecked the car—Satan did it. If they didn’t get a good parking place—Satan did it. Their beliefs made Satan the one in control of everything. Well, he’s not. As a matter of fact, he’s not in control of anything. He can only do what God allows him to do. Because God is sovereign. He’s the One that is in control. God is in control, and He has given us the power to resist temptation. James 4:7 says: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” If you are saved, God has given you the power to resist temptation. But you give up that power when you give the devil and audience. Look at what Eve did in verse 2 of our passage. She answered the devil’s question. She allowed herself to enter into conversation with Satan. If you do that, you will lose. In Ephesians 4:26-27, when Paul talks about not letting the sun go down on your anger, he says we’re not to do that because it will give the devil and opportunity. Literally that means a foothold. I saw a church sign the other day that said, “If you give the devil an inch, he’ll be your ruler.” That is so true. That’s what happened to Eve. She gave him an opportunity—a foothold. All she did was engage him in conversation. She dignified his question with a response. Temptation is that subtle. God gives a test because He loves us and wants us to demonstrate our love in obedience. Satan distorts that test and turns it into temptation because he wants us to elevate ourselves above God in rebellion. God gives us the power to resist the temptation and follow Him in obedience. But how many times do we give up that power by giving the devil a foothold in our lives? How many times do we engage the devil in conversation by trying to justify sin or blame it on others? So, the first question is: What is the source of temptation? Its source is Satan and our willingness to give him a foothold. The second question is: What is the appearance of temptation?