Nuggets of Fudge – CRAFTY TEMPTATION


What a refreshing change to see a well known leader in the Christian community being transparent. Just when I thought Edward Fudge couldn’t top what he has already said about temptation I received this in my “in box” a few days ago. This illustration points out that I am not alone in loving the praise of men. God has some work to do on me!

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Temptation first walks into the Bible story over a verbal bridge that links Genesis chapters two and three. As we noted earlier, the passage pivots on a pun. Mr. and Mrs. Dirt-Creature (“Adam” in Hebrew) are naked (literally, “slick”) but they are not embarrassed. And the serpent is more crafty (literally,”slick”) than any other field-beast. Although fully bare, before they have sinned the Adamses feel no shame.

Embarrassment is a subjective form of self-consciousness, not a true measure of reality. Guilt, on the other hand, is an objective characteristic, whether one “feels” it or not. The crafty serpent will play head-games with the Dirt-Creatures, fool with their feelings, confuse their perception of reality–and, in the end–watch them distrust and disobey the Creator who IS life and who gives life to them.

The crafty devil is still at it today, and I speak from personal experience. I had been invited to read a paper at a particular scholarly meeting that I considered a great honor. Driving the night before to the city where the conference was being held, I was praying when my thanksgiving began to morph into self-congratulation. I heard my voice saying words I did not know I meant. I thanked God for this honor, which not only was well-deserved but long overdue. I thanked him that I finally was getting some of the attention that He, as the just judge of the universe, fully understood should come my way.

Suddenly I was flooded with feelings of guilt and appropriate embarrassment for my hubris. My sinful pride was obvious and outrageous. Scripture is full of warnings and admonitions regarding this sin that God hates. My self-centered thanksgiving quickly turned to a prayer of confession and request for forgiveness. I poured out my heart in sincere repentance. Then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. Again it came–only asking a question, a question one sentence long. But the content of that question could have but one source–the crafty serpent we met in Genesis 3. This was the question: “Wasn’t that the best prayer of repentance you have ever heard?”

Edward Fudge – gracEmail

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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.

 

 

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

 

 

God is able, is He willing?


The following verses all say that God is “able“. He is “able” to do anything because He is God. Most believers embrace this idea of God’s ability in their personal belief system. Many of us however are not sure He is willing as we live our lives day by day.

Consider these verses and comments.

Romans 14:4
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” God can keep His own from falling, will He?

Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Abundantly more than we ask or think! It’s hard to take in. The context is very personal, “according to the power at work in us“. The Holy Spirit, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is the power we have at the ready to do in us and through us what will glorify God. God is very able but is He willing?

2 Timothy 1:12
“..which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” What had Paul committed to the Lord? His soul, his future, his hope, his life, all that he was had been given over to the One who is able. He was able to guard what was entrusted to Him until the Day of the Lord. Did He? More than that, will He guard what you have entrusted to Him? He is able, is He willing?

Perhaps the answers are found in these next several verses. God is faithful! Praise His name, I can trust Him completely to do what I am not able to do. He is able, and He is faithful.

Romans 3:3
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?”

1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Our calling into the fellowship of Jesus Christ depends upon the faithfulness of God. If it depends on me I’m in a very dangerous position. He is perfectly faithful even though you and I are not perfectly faithful. (Rom 3:3 above)

1 Corinthians 10:13
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.” Temptations are common to us all. When they come, and they surely will, what assurance do we have that we can avoid falling into sin? The faithfulness of God! He knows each of us so intimately that He will allow temptation just short of our ability to resist. He will always provide a way of escape. Were it not for God’s faithfulness we would be overwhelmed by the temptation to fall into grievous sin often and we would not be able to resist. Let no man claim that he had no choice, no way out, God always provides a way of escape.

1 Thessalonians 5:24
He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Do what? This verse is immediately preceded by verse 23 which says “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ“. God will sanctify (set you apart for Himself) you completely (there is no room for failure), and your whole person will be kept blameless until Jesus comes. Not only will you be blameless then, your are now blameless, and will stay blameless because God is faithful and He will surely do it.

2 Timothy 2:13
if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” At some time every person living in sinful flesh is less than faithful, but while we disappoint even ourselves, God is faithful on our behalf. He cannot be otherwise and be God.

Hebrews 7:25
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” I doubt that any of us are capable of grasping the depth and breadth of this promise. One thing is for sure, those who have put their confidence in Jesus and are resting completely upon Him are safe. Saved, being saved, and will be saved in the end is the promise to all who come to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Hebrews 10:23
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” What a wonderfully powerful challenge and promise! Do you expect the sun to shine tomorrow? It very likely will. There are no rainy days in God’s faithfulness. He is always, eternally, faithful and because of that truth we who are His are at rest.

Galatians 5:22
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”  God the Holy Spirit is at work in each believer forming us into the likeness of Christ. One of the ways He is doing that is to produce in our lives faithfulness. Faithfulness is one way we are like our Father.

God is not only able, but faithful. Amen.

Standing in grace,
Royce