The very last verse of Genesis 2 says that Adam and Eve were both naked and they were not ashamed. In other words, they were completely innocent, they were unaware of what evil was. The third chapter of Genesis opens up with the serpent approaching Eve and asking her a question.
The most obvious question that we might have regarding this whole dialogue which results in the loss of innocence and the entry of sin and death into the world is this: Why did God allow the man and woman to be tempted in the first place? Wouldn’t it seem that God would bear responsibility for not shielding them from this danger?
In order to answer this, we must look at temptation itself from God’s perspective and determine what the purpose for it might be. From our standpoint, temptation is nothing more than a chance to fail, it seems like it is only a source of agony and suffering for us. But God allows it for a very real purpose.
The flip side of temptation and the possibility of falling that comes with it is that it also carries the opportunity to stand against it. Not only is the chance of failure there, so is the chance of success. It is through this trial of our faith that our character is built up and the reality of our trust in God is proven. God doesn’t allow temptation in order to tear us down, but to “prove” what we are made of. We might fail at times, but the temptations that we face will ultimately reveal our strength in Christ, not our weakness in the flesh.
“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
Temptation doesn’t prove to God what we are made of, He already knows that, but rather it proves to us what He is made of. It humbles us and causes us to trust in Him and not ourselves. Adam and Eve had been given one single commandment to follow. If there had never arose any temptation to break it, the commandment would have been meaningless. Whether or not they truly believed and trusted God would never have been known to them if they did not have the opportunity or motivation to put that trust to the test. They could have stood against the temptation, they did not need to fall. They could have held fast to the Word that He had given them and not obeyed the voice of another. But they did what I am certain any of us could have easily done in the same situation; they took their eyes off of God if only for a moment and rather than proving God’s glorious provision, they proved man’s utter helplessness apart from Him.
The way to overcome temptation is not by firmly planting your own two feet into the ground and resolving to stand strong. It is to keep your eyes on God and to resolve to stand in Him. Temptation is not a chance to see if you can resist it or not, it is a chance to know that God can keep you from falling if you will keep your trust in Him.
To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,
[This post was originally published August 16, 2009]
**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.
[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]