Tuesday, January 4, 2011

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Temptation

Every year when January rolls around, people begin making resolutions. The number one resolution for the average person is to lose weight. Advertisers bombard us with weight loss programs, pills and fitness clubs cut prices in half to acquire new members. What is it about food that we allow ourselves to indulge? There is even a new word out there for people who love food. They are called "foody's". Eventually our lack of restraint causes extra pounds that bring on all kinds of health issues. Our eating habits can cause heart disease and diabetes which both are at an all time high. We all know the fall of man had to do with a desire for food. A piece of fruit for that matter.

This week as we begin reading through the Bible, we begin with creation. I noticed three things in the fall of man that to this day we deal with. The first being Satan always questioning God's authority and who He is. He said to the woman in verse one, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1) What's he trying to say here, that God is a liar?

The second is questioning power. Most of the world's problems throughout history and today are from those who want to rule the world. Genesis 3:4-5 says, "You will not surely die, " the serpent said to the woman. 5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." God had already given them complete authority over every living thing on the earth.
The very first thing God said to man was he was to increase in number and to rule over every fish, bird and creature on the earth (Genesis 1:28). Satan made an accusation causing them to question the authority God had given them and that He was holding out on them something more and better. Maybe if they knew what good and evil was then they would have God's power and authority. Think about it, they had not yet been exposed to evil.The third is food. After God created man, the first command God gave man was to eat, but not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:16-17). In chapter 3 of Genesis, food was the prop used by Satan to tempt Adam and Eve. In verse 6 it says, "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it" (Genesis 3:6). It is no wonder why we struggle today with food, whether it is with obesity or even anorexia. It was obviously one of the pleasures from the garden of Eden that God allowed us to keep. As a result of sin, Satan used it to sabotage what God intended it for pleasure and use it to our demise.

We also read this week the beginning of Jesus' life. In Matthew 4, Jesus has not yet begun his ministry. Jesus goes to the desert. There he fasted 40 days (Matthew 4:1&2). Jesus being man, felt the hunger pangs. The scripture is clear to let us know that. Satan attempts to catch Jesus in a time of weakness and tries to do to him what he did to Adam, using the same technique. He even used the same three topics, tempting him with food, life/death, and power. This time the scenery is different than Adam's. Jesus is no where near fruit trees or lush gardens. Instead he's in the dry, hot and dusty desert.

Satan is referred to as the tempter in this passage. Matthew 4:3 says, "The tempter came to him and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.'" The tempter in his suggestion to Jesus uses the word if as to question who Jesus is. Of course it was no surprise to Jesus that he would play on his moment of weakness by suggesting food that would have probably been satisfying in that moment. But Jesus rebuked him by speaking the Word of God back to him that man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4; Deuteronomy 8:3).

Again, the tempter challenged Jesus of who he was with the power of life and death. In verse 6, the tempter even tried to use the Word of God as his reason for questioning. It says, "'If you are the Son of God,' he said, 'throw yourself down. For it is written: "He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone'" (Matthew 4:6; Psalm 91:11 & 12). Again, Jesus rebuked his suggestion with using the Word by telling him not to put God to the test (Matthew 4:7; Deuteronomy 6:16).

Lastly, like Adam, dangled the carrot of power in front of Jesus by taking him to a high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor (Matthew 4:8). In verse 9 he says, "'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me."' But Jesus knew who he was and knew the authority he was given and again, rebuked the words of Satan by the Word of God that says "Away from me Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord you God, and serve him only.'" (Matthew 4:10;Deuteronomy 6:13)

The lesson we learn from Jesus is how to handle temptations. This is why it is so important to know the Word of God. Beginning a new year off with committing to read through the Bible will help when faced with temptations.

I believe this is why even fasting is so important and specifically at the first of the year. God meant for us to be spiritual beings and the kind of food the spirit needs is different from the flesh. God intended for Adam to be eternal, but because he was flesh ended up making choices that brought death to man. Jesus is called the "last Adam". God sent him to give life to our spirit so we could dwell with him eternally. (1 Corinthians 15:45). Eternally is the way he originally intended for us to live. Jesus showed us that we can resist temptation if we have a clear connection in the spirit with God and know the Word. Fasting is a way of saying "no" to our flesh, and "yes" to our spirit.

As you begin this new year with resolutions that will likely be broken, I want to encourage you to read through the Bible this year and try a fast of some kind over the next month. Give God a tithe of your life this year by saying "no" to your flesh and "yes" to Him. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
" (NLT) He will not lead you into temptation, but deliver you from evil one (Matthew 16:13).