Nuggets of Fudge – Reflections on Temptation (3)


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What was so enticing about the temptation that led to the “original” sin? Surely there is nothing that attractive about apples, or pomegranates, or whatever the center tree in Eden bore. Delectable taste does not compel such high-risk behavior. Nor does food–however beautifully presented. Nor does the prospect of nutritional benefits whether in mind or body. No, the key to this compulsion, the trigger to this temptation, is found in the name of the tree itself: it is the tree of “knowledge” of “good and evil.” “Knowledge” here is Hebrew idiom and refers to knowing based on personal experience. In the longer phrase here, it is experience in making independent moral decisions, which is the Hebrew usage of the expression “good and evil.”

Adam and Eve are not self-existing. They are created beings, wholly dependent on God for existence and for everything else that is good. Because he made them, God knows what is good and what is not. The only open question is whether the dirt-critters will take God’s word on that subject (and by doing so, accept his role as Creator), and accept their own reality as totally dependent creatures. Will they let God be God or will they insist on deciding for themselves what is”good”? We know how that went. And, whatever can be said about the effect of Adam’s sin on us, we all went right in step behind them at that crossroad when our own turn came.

Satan started with a simple question: “Did God say . . .?” Then came the serpentine spin: “God is actually jealous of his position,” the devil explained, “and he is threatened by your likeness to him. If you eat the fruit, you will become all-knowing and will not need him to tell you what is right and wrong.” Eve bought the tale, Adam knew better but went along, and the rest is history. The last verse of chapter 2 says that the man and woman were naked but unashamed. “Naked” is literally “slick.” The first verse of chapter 3 says the serpent was more subtle than any other beast. “Subtle” is also literally “slick.” Three slick characters. Too slick for their own good, as it turns out.

In Romans 16:17-20, Paul urges believers to avoid the same error made by Adam and Eve. Paul’s language is packed with figures from the Garden of Eden. Beware evil teachers, he says, who serve their own “appetites.” By “smooth talk and flattery” they “deceive” the minds of naive people. Your past “obedience” is well-known and a cause for joy. Continue to be content with “wisdom” about what is good. Remain “innocent” about what is evil. Soon the God of peace will “crush Satan under your feet.”

By Edward Fudge, visit his website for many, many written resources.

 

 

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Nuggets of Fudge – Reflections on Temptation (2)


Why is sin appealing to us humans? As with many topics, the beginning place for an answer is found in the ancient stories preserved in Genesis chapters 1-3. The potentiality for temptation and for sin is inherent in the twin poles of our created nature. On the one hand, we are creatures, made of dirt. On the other hand, we bear the image of God. Try holding those two thoughts in your mind at one time.

God forms the first human from physical elements of the earth, in-breathes this creature with living breath, and calls it “adam”–Hebrew for “dust-person” (2:7). “Adam” is used later as a proper name for the first male human. But before it is a proper noun, it is a common noun for “them”–male and female alike, both of whom bear the image of God (1:27). What is God’s image in humans? Genesis is not specific, but it seems to include such traits as imagination, creativity, a sense of right and wrong, and various aspects of self-awareness.In another story, God takes a bone from the male human creature’s side and forms a female human creature.

Whatever heights dust-men may scale in this world, they cannot escape their origin. Made of earth, they finally return to earth again. Yet however tightly dust-man is bound to the earth, both she and he bear the image of God. Do we see the tension these two realities create? Do we feel the inherent struggle between our limitations and our glory? There is no doubt that we experience this struggle, but do we recognize it? Alone among created beings, we are made in the image of our Creator–surely holding promise (we think) of reaching a maturity that no longer requires God. Would God make us to imagine such a thing if it were not possible? It is a teasing question, but there is little humor in it.

We cannot even talk about our likeness to the Creator without acknowledging that we are creatures. And created beings did not exist until they were created. Every moment of our existence is the Creator’s gift. We can accept our creaturehood and embrace the glory of God’s image, or we can desire to be more than we are, more than we can be. But this requires declaring independence from God himself, an act that leads to our own destruction. Yet this is precisely what the human creatures do, as we see in the next gracEmail on this topic.

Words of truth and wisdom from my friend and fellow on the journey, Edward Fudge.

Nuggets of Fudge – REFLECTIONS ON TEMPTATION (1)


Why do we sin? What is temptation? What is its appeal, its substance, its power? Can we resist it? Defeat it? Escape it? If “Yes,” by what power? If by our power, is God involved? If by God’s power, must we do anything ourselves? As one who has been sinning and coming short of God’s plan for human beings for nearly 69 years, and as one who has been rescued from sin’s power by a power even greater, but who has been helpless against sin apart from that greater power, I wish to devote a few gracEmails to this subject beginning with this one. Today we take a general look at the context of the temptation of Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness of Judea, described in Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13.

The Gospel story begins with John baptizing Jesus, and with God visibly and audibly marking Jesus as his well-beloved son. Luke inserts a genealogy that begins with Jesus and moves backward to Adam–“Adam, the son of God.” Luke is telling us that Jesus is a second Adam, the head of a new humankind. Jesus’ bright moment at the Jordan is followed by forty days of spiritual darkness in the desert. It is a barren and rugged land, a badlands crawling with snakes and scorpions, devoid of human residents, a place where wild animals wander in search of prey. It is also a haunt of the devil.

Jesus fasts for forty days and nights and is hungry. The son of God hungry? Can hungry Jesus really be the son of God? No doubt. But doubt is a chief stock in the devil’s trade–overt at times, subtle at others. Doubt expressed with a sneer, or a look of surprise. Expressed by suggestion, question and insinuation. If you are the son of God, taunts the devil, manipulate a miracle and meet your needs! Enjoy the perks! Look the part! Wow the crowds and gain a following! But each time, Jesus refuses. God’s results do not depend on carnal shortcuts or cheap stunts. Didn’t then. Don’t now. Truth is, they never have.

Words of truth and wisdom from my friend and fellow on the journey, Edward Fudge.

From time to time I’ll share “Nuggets of Fudge” with the readers of Grace Digest. They are tasty!

Royce Ogle
Monroe, LA