“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.”
Why do we make stupid decisions? Why can’t we just listen to the voice of wisdom and do the right thing? More often than not, I know what the right choice is but decide to disregard the voice of wisdom and do my own thing. It rarely works out. This seems to be an inherent flaw in all of us. Maybe it’s time to start learning to say “no” and to accept “no” from God.
For example, Eve in the Garden was the first to succumb to a tempting offer. Eve knew God’s Word, whether she heard it directly from God or from Adam is unknown, but she knew that God said not to eat from the tree. She couldn’t claim ignorance and made a series of mistakes that led to the fall of mankind. The same mistakes lead me into poor choices today.
First, she wandered close to the tree, it seems she was within a few steps of the forbidden tree. Maybe if she had a longer walk from the point of temptation to the actual tree, she would have come to her senses. It makes me wonder if she often walked to the tree to gaze upon the beautiful fruit. Did she imagine how it tasted and dream of trying it before the devil talked to her? 🤷♀️
Secondly, she stopped to listen to the devil. She gave him time to talk her into something she knew was wrong. Why didn’t she just walk away? I’m not sure if talking animals were common in Eden, so maybe the novelty of it intrigued her. But it should have also warned her that something was out of place.
Finally, she didn’t seek counsel from Adam or from God before making her decision. She stopped, listened to what the devil had to say, and since it was something she had been curious about, she just went with it. My guess is she didn’t really want anyone talking her out of tasting that beautiful, tasty looking fruit.
After sinning Eve did what many of us do: she encouraged Adam to sin with her, she felt shame, she hid herself, and she assigned blame. You’ll notice that Adam followed the same process of shame, hiding, and blaming when confronted by God.
After thousands of years, we’re still fighting the same battles. We still fail to do what we know is right because we want to try the shiny fruit that seems so appealing. The voice of wisdom gets drowned out by the noise of getting more, doing more, being more, and wanting more than the abundance that God provides.
Adam and Eve lacked nothing. They had everything and they gave it up for the one thing they were told to avoid. How often do we do the same? We stare at what we don’t have until it is all we can think about. We become obsessed with what is denied us, and we ignore the blessings we have been handed. I’m guilty of this dangerous sin of covetousness. Yes, coveting, one of the top ten on God’s list of commandments. Thou shall not covet.
The first time God stripped the fancy wrapping away from the word covet, I stood appalled at myself. Ashamed, grieved, guilty. The fruit didn’t look so good once I stopped the “I just want, everyone else has it, it’s not a bad thing, and I deserve” excuses I had wrapped my desires in. I coveted what I didn’t have and what I felt God had denied me. And the truth of that powerful, condemning word finally got my attention.
I fell with tears streaming down my face and cried out for forgiveness. My heart was broken as the truth and weight of my guilt settled over me. And then God met me there and He forgave me. He needed me to see my sin for what it was, the stark, ugly truth of it before He could wipe it completely away.
There in His grace, I finally began to learn what He was trying to teach me. Saying “no” in this present age and walking away from worldly passions and desires is the way to freedom. Self-control and godliness are obtained by God’s grace and require us to see the truth of what tempts us.
As long as we wrap our desires in pretty paper and shiny ribbons, we’ll continue to believe the lie that what God denies us is really good for us. We say, “It won’t hurt anyone, everyone else is doing it, no one needs to know.” The devil was able to deceive Eve with similar lies: “The fruit is really good for you, it won’t hurt you, are you sure God really said not to eat it? He’s just being mean by telling you to stay away.”
She saw, she coveted, she ate. So did I. But God is faithful to forgive and provides the way out.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
The way out includes stripping away excuses and taking an honest look at the object of our desire through God’s eyes. Since temptations are common threads running through humanity, we can learn a lot from Eve.
- Don’t stay in the vicinity of things God denies you. When He says no, say thank you and walk away.
- Don’t listen to the tempters. You know who they are, they are the ones with the wrapping paper and ribbons telling you to disregard God’s instructions. They offer you the fruit they’ve already taken and tell you it won’t hurt anything.
- Seek wise counsel. If you’re unsure or struggling with temptation turn to God first and then to your wise friends. God first because friends don’t know everything. If what God says and what your friends say conflict, always go with God. I’ve had well-meaning friends give bad advice. But I can’t blame them for my actions. I knew it was bad advice and took it anyway because it lined up with my desires.
- Ask Him to strip away the wrapping and show you the truth behind your desires. Ask Him to open your eyes and He’ll be faithful to show you His will. Pray until you either know for certain that you are following God or He shows you what not to do.
I’m not saying that having desires is a bad thing. God gives us desires and He even says He gives us the desires of our hearts. But when we elevate our desires above honoring God, we know that we’ve entered a dangerous space and are walking in covetousness. God gives good gifts to His children; accept those gifts with joy and gratitude. But when God says no, accept that with joy and gratitude as well.
The devil tempts us to disobey God with the shiny objects and empty promises. God offers us life, grace, and unfailing love. Now that’s a tempting offer worth accepting.
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I want to follow Jesus! How do I get started?
“This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:13-15
If you are ready to join the family of God, simply believe and ask. You can choose your own words or pray the prayer below. God hears your heart, simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and let the Spirit lead you.
“Father, I want to be yours. Forgive me of my sins. I believe that you sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and thank you for the gift of salvation through Him. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and surrender my life to You. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Feel free to spend time just talking to God and sharing your heart with Him. Let Him speak to you and listen as He leads you forward into new life. Welcome to the family.
Need to talk or have questions? Feel free to reach out and contact me.