Posts Tagged ‘temptation’

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Deliver Us From Evil…

October 9, 2012

As we examine the Lord’s Prayer as found in Matthew 6, we have taken it phrase by phrase. We have examined what it means to Hallow God’s name, to seek provision, to seek forgiveness, now we will focus on seeking deliverance.

Lead us not into temptation, BUT deliver us from evil…

The word here translated deliver is the Greek word “Rhu-o-mai” ῥύομαι literally to rescue, or deliver, “to rescue from danger, save, rescue, deliver, preserve someone.” It occurs some 18 times in 15 verses. To give you a picture of its use in the New Testament texts it is used to describe:

i. Deliverance from death (2 Timothy 3:11)

ii. Deliverance from the power of darkness (Col. 1:13)

iii. Deliverance from wrath to come (1 Thes. 1:10)

iv. Deliverance from temptation (2 Peter 2:9)

v. Deliverance from evil (Matt 6:13)

Each of the above (i-iv) could be summed up in (v.) for certainly evil is the source of temptation; the power of death; and the cause of the wrath to come. But praise be to God that He and He alone has defeated evil and can deliver us. Indeed the Father is greater than all and when we are in his hand we are delivered from evil’s effect of death and nothing can snatch us out of the Father’s hand, (John 10:29) We pray to be delivered with confidence knowing that “the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect [us] from evil.” (2 Thess. 3:3) What is meant by evil and what does evil look like?

Word Study: “Evil” [evil generally/evil “one]

Evil in this passage is the Greek word is “poneros” πονηρός, in the text it possesses an article so it literally reads, “the evil” of “the evil one.” It is occurs 80 times in 72 verses in the New Testament. There have been many interpretations as to what this word means, there are two equally valid readings.

• The evil one. This would be our adversary Satan, the evil one (Eph 6:16; 1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18-19). Satan always stands ready to test us, and lead us away from God. (e.g. Eve, Gen. 3; Job 1 & 2) Peter tells us that he is like a roaring lion, prowling the streets seeking whom he may devoir. (1 Peter 5:8) “He stirs up enemies to persecute us (Rev 12, 13), he inflames our lusts (1 Chronicles 21:1; 1 Cor. 7:5), and he disturbs our peace (1 Peter 5:8). It is therefore our consistent need and duty to pray for deliverance from him.” We pray with confidence knowing that we have been delivered our of the hands of the evil one, Christ keeps us and the evil one can not touch us (1 John 5:18)

• Evil. This rendering has evil in general in mind, specifically sin, “for sin is evil (Rom. 12:9), the world is evil (Gal. 1:4), and our corrupt nature is evil (Matt 12:35)” Our boasting is evil (James 4:16), so we humbly pray that if we find ourselves tempted/ tried that we will be delivered from sin, the source of so much evil.

a. What is the context of this request within the Sermon on the Mount?

Jesus began his instruction on prayer in 6:8 with the proclamation that God knows what we need. So prayer is not our opportunity to come to God and tell him things that He doesn’t know, but rather it a chance for us to humble ourselves and admit that we need God, in His knowledge, in His Kingdom, In His power to care for us, to provide for us, to forgive us and to delivers us from all evil. Through Christ’s instruction on prayer we learn to ask for the items we need to exist and serve God this is taught in Matthew 6:9-13.

In the next section verses 20-24 Jesus continues to turn our eyes upward away from earthly needs and wants to the desires for God’s kingdom. We are to ask for what we need daily, but we are not to store these things up. First and foremost we are to seek after God, if we focus too much on these earthly possessions they soon begin to take God’s place in our heart. And instead of focusing on Him, we focus on getting more, keeping more. But Jesus says that we cannot serve both these things and God. God must be first, and God must be the most important, because moths and rust will destroy what we have invested in this world, thieves may take it away, but no one can take God or His kingdom from us.

Even after you pray the Lord’s prayer, you may ask the question, “Great, glad I did that, but will He really do these things?” “Will God give me daily bread? Forgive me? Deliver me?” Etc. Because we are sinful it is in our nature to doubt, especially if we do not see immediate results. Paul, though, instructs us in Philippians 4:6 to “be anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” Likewise Matthew 6:25 comes as a reassurance to our questions and concerns. Beginning in verse 25 Jesus encourages us not to worry about our material needs. Three times in this section he instructs us not to worry. (vss. 25, 31, 34) He gives the example of the birds, they live their entire existence solely dependent on God, and He feeds them. Flowers do not lie around fields worrying about whether or not they will bloom, God provides them clothing more beautiful than kings. He repeats His earlier encouragement that God knows what we need, and if we seek Him first, he will add to our lives all we need; if clothes, then clothes; if food, then food; if years, then years; so that we may continue praying, forgiving, seeking and giving Him praise.

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The Legalities of Lust… In the Sermon on the Mount

January 26, 2012

In Matthew 5:27-30…

Does this passage primarily function as an indictment against legalism (the Pharisees), or is it addressed toward everyone?

It does both. It condemns legalism and the “cover” that legalism affords.  Legalists maintain a sinful lifestyle but offset their sin by acts of righteousness in order to take shelter under those acts and feel forgiven.  To those who would draw the line and attempt to box God in and say, “well I’m not really being adulterous, I haven’t slept with that woman, I’ve just looked at her and thought about it…” Jesus says “ah but I am concerned with the desire of your heart.  If you claim to know me, and claim to want the blessing of my Father then listen to what I have said, mourn over your sin and you will be comforted; hunger for my righteousness and you will be satisfied; be pure in your heart and you will see Me for who I really am,  And that vision of me will outshine any earthly temptation you face.”

The message of Jesus is that the key to sexual purity is to seek “a circumcised heart (Duet 10:16), a heart on which God’s Holy Law is writtenJer 31:31-34), a new heart (Ezek 36:24-27), a heart that is pure (Matt 5:8).  Only God may grant such a heart in fulfillment of his new convenant promise, the promise that forms the theological foundation for the radical demands of the sermon on the mount.”[1]

 What does it mean to look at a woman to lust for her?  Is there to be no admiration for a woman’s body?

“The man whom Jesus here condemns (in Mt 5:27, 28) is the man who deliberately uses his eyes to stimulate his desires; the man who finds a strange delight in things which waken the desire for the forbidden thing.”  The verb here is a present participle, which is to say that it has the sense of on-going action.  To look and keep on looking, the lustful look “locks eyes on another person and uses him or her to fuel one’s sexual imagination.”[2]

“The “look” that Jesus mentioned was not a casual glance, but a constant stare with the purpose of lusting. It is possible for a man to glance at a beautiful woman and know that she is beautiful, but not lust (Job 31:1) after her. The man Jesus described looked at the woman for the purpose of feeding his inner sensual appetites as a substitute for the act (James 1:14, 15). It was not accidental; it was planned.[3]

The “lust” in view here is the word epiqumhsai or (epi-thu-meysai)  which means literally to fix the desire upon (object could be good Mt 13:17, Lk 22:15 used of Jesus; or bad 1Co 10:6). It means to have a strong desire to do or secure something. To desire greatly.

Mankind, both male and female were created in the image of God.  In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. (Gen 2:27)  This includes their physical person as well as their spiritual nature and soul.  Whether one lusts and sins when one looks at the human body is not reliant on the ‘body’ viewed but in the heart of the viewer.  “To the pure all things are pure. But the man whose heart is defiled can look at any scene and find something in it titillate and excite the wrong desire.”[4]

To appreciate a human body properly, within the context of God’s good creation, one must see beyond the physical and see that this is someone created in God’s own image made to know Him and glorify Him.  The problem with today’s pornography culture is that individuals are not seen as the image of God but rather as a means to excite the eyes for sexual gratification.  They are a means to an end.  Anytime we look at the opposite sex as a means to some end we are not glorifying God but denigrating his creation, and ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 


[1] Quarles, 124.

[2] Ibid. 117.

[3] Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)

[4] Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press.

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The Costly Consequences of Sin… Christ’s Solution

January 25, 2012

“If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

-Matthew 5:29-30

Is there any Old Testament precedent for Jesus’ teaching on removing stumbling blocks for oneself (in this passage the right eye and the right hand).

There is no specific example of this (mutilation) being done; but its absence is key in and of itself.  Would that Israel had that mindset; that the Jews would have chosen to flee sin and idolatry instead of indulging it.  “Several Old Testament prophets used adultery as a metaphor to describe unfaithfulness to God. Idolatry (Ezekiel 23:27) and other pagan religious practices (Jeremiah 3:6-10) were viewed as adulterous unfaithfulness to the exclusive covenant that God established with His people. To engage in such was to play the harlot (Hosea 4:11-14).”[1]  Jesus is reminding and re-emphasizing the seriousness of adultery; whether physical adultery, mental adultery or spiritual adultery.  Israel, as a people, had been unfaithful to God, and as a result many had found judgment and condemnation.  Better to incur loss and stay in God’s blessing than remain whole and stand outside his presence.

The point of this hyperbole is to communicate the willingness of the individual to flee sin even at great personal and perhaps even physical cost.  There are two examples in Scripture that bear witness to this in principle; a positive example and a negative one.

The positive example is that of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Gen 39:10-20).  Joseph, though single, viewed sexual relations with the wife of another man as a heinous act.  He fled and did so at a great cost to himself and his well being.  In this case it was not his hand that was causing him to sin, nor his eye but his proximity to Potiphar’s wife.  So he fled and eliminated that proximity.  As a result he lost his position, his job, and was cast into prison, but maintained his character and was ultimately restored.

The negative example would be that of David.  He gazed out over the rooftops of Jerusalem and saw Bathsheba. (2 Sam 11)  Instead of fleeing, he indulged the look, lusted and finally acted.  As a result of his sin; she became pregnant, David killed her husband, their child died at birth and David’s kingdom was greatly troubled.  If David had known the consequences that would come and could have chosen, one might assume that he would have been willing to loose an eye or a hand to prevent such evil from occurring.

What did Jesus mean when he said ‘tear out the right eye and cut off the right hand’?

Most scholars today take this statement is hyperbole, or extreme speech that was not intended to be taken literally.  Jesus mentions the ‘right’ hand and the ‘right’ eye, the right hand “typically had greater strength, dexterity, and purity.  The right hand was used to greet others, bestow blessings, and establish legal agreements.”[2]  Thus the right hand was seen as more valuable and useful, its loss would be greater than the left.  The point being that the Christian should be willing, not only to make sacrifices, but genuine even costly sacrifices to avoid sin.  For a life that does not avoid sin is a life lived in sin, a life bent for judgment.

“Avoiding spiritual downfall is worthy of any sacrifice, no matter how great!”

So if we think about this in modern terms; if your job is causing you to sin i.e. coworkers tempting you to steal or cheat etc. better to quit your job and maintain your integrity than to stay and engage in sin.  If your friends are tempting you to sin i.e. drink, have sex, do drugs, look at pornography etc.  better to remove those friendships and follow Christ than place those friendships above your relationship with Jesus.  If you are tempted by pornography or internet gambling etc. to the point that you can not sit at a computer without engaging in it, better to get rid of your computer and enter heaven; than to keep your computer and continue to live a life of sin.  Either way your actions reflect the orientation of your heart.  A pure heart endeavors to be pure in action; an impure heart is careless and inspires sinful action.


[1]  Butler, Trent C. Editor.. “Entry for ‘ADULTERY'”. “Holman Bible Dictionary”.
<http://www.studylight.org/dic/hbd/view.cgi?number=T140&gt;. 1991.

[2] The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), dexioV 2:37-40.

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Back to the Future…Adultery in the First Century

January 25, 2012

 

So when Jesus uses the word “adultery,” what would this word bring to mind for his Jewish audience?  Certainly he is pointing back to Exodus 20, but what would constitute adultery in 1st century Judaism?

By the first century, society still viewed adultery as serious.  Jews had entire sections of their law, devoted to the explanation of adultery down to the finest point.  But we should never underestimate mankind’s ability to take a law or precept from God and begin to twist it and conform it to make excuses for the very sin it was meant to warn against.  Such was the case with the Jews.

Many in Jesus’ era “assumed that unconditional fidelity was demanded only of the woman in a marriage.”  There is some biblical example for this assumption. “The incident with Tamar and Judah in Genesis 38:24-26 vividly illustrates this attitude.  Judah considered himself above reproach when he dallied with someone he thought to be a prostitute (Tamar in disguise) at his shepherds convention, but he was ready to stone Tamar when she turned up pregnant.  This chauvinistic attitude was prevalent in the Roman world.”[1]   Laws concerning adultery were very much lopsided and favored men far more than women. This was not God’s design by any means, as the Seventh Commandment reflects.  But man had twisted God’s law and bent it to excuse bad behavior.  The man is exhorted in proverbs to be faithful to his wife (Pr 5:15-19) but according to Jewish law his infidelity is only punished if he violates the rights of another man by taking a married woman as his partner.[2]  Jews would have viewed adultery “as sexual intercourse with the wife or betrothed of another Jew,”[3] and sought to punish the woman first, before the man.  Consider the story of woman brought to Jesus “caught in the act of adultery” (John 8:1-11).  The woman is present for punishment but the man is absent.

Moreover, the Rabbis made a distinction between the thoughts of a man and those thoughts acted out.  They held that a man’s good intentions were reckoned to him as good deeds, while his evil intentions are counted ONLY if he succumbs to them.  In other words, you were not guilt per se if you had lustful thoughts; but only if those thoughts were turned into action.[4]


[1] Dockery, David and David E Garland Seeking the Kingdom: the Sermon on the Mount made Practical for today. Wheaton: Harold Shaw Pub. 1992. 53.

[2] de Vaux, Roland. Ancient Israel: social institutions. Vol. 1 New York: McGraw Hill. 1965. 37.

[3] Johnson, Sherman The Gospel According to St. Matthew. The Interpreters Bible Vol. 7 Nashville: Abingdon. 1951. 297.

[4] Ibid. 297.

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Satisfied vs. Gratified: the Superiority of Divine Satisfaction…

September 21, 2011

“Blessed are those who Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness, for they will be Satisfied.” -Matthew 5:6

We live in a world of instant gratification.  We all hunger, thirst and desire, we live to serve these appetites.  Our lives are organized around the next meal, the promising relationship, and the next fix.  Some of these are necessary for survival, others are necessary for “the good life.”  Throughout the years we have become more and more adept at servicing these needs with efficiency and expediency.  We have Aspirin for headaches, McDonalds for meals, Staples for supplies, and Snickers for snacks.  It is a “fast relief when you need it, that was easy, Hungry? Why wait?” world.  That we hunger and thirst is not the problem, the problem lies in the object of our desires and the methods we use to fulfill them.  C.S. Lewis wrote:

We are half hearted creatures, fooling around with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea, we are far too easily pleased.

Jesus confronted a world absent of so many of the quick fixes we take for granted.  Food was rare, water was scarce and those in pain often lived lives racked with discomfort.  But the people in first century Palestine were cut from the same fallen cloth as you and I; they wanted their needs met in the now, and their hope realized in the present.  Jesus punctuated His ministry with parallel announcements: that the kingdom had arrived; and that we should still live for the promise of the Kingdom to come.  He offers a present satisfaction with the realization of who He is, and a future satisfaction in who we will become.

The world lies in the grips of one who is both evil and easy.  Satan confronts Christ in His temptations with the easy path: “hungry, turn these stones to bread;’ ‘want to rule, worship me.'”  Satan offers the same illicit solutions to us and too often we break under the appetite of the now.  So we settle for lifeless stones rather than the life-giving Word, and worship the creature rather than the Creator.  This basic sin is fundamental to how our world is structured, needs must be met now or not at all.

But Jesus seeks us, and His glory that comes from our satisfaction in Him.  So he lays out the appetites of a citizen of the kingdom.  If we hunger and thirst for bread, we can find gratification, but in a short while hunger will return.  If we take the bread of life, we will never hunger again.

The concept of divine satisfaction is rooted in the idea that only one thing can fill the need we all possess:  The need to revisit the days when we walked with our Maker in the cool of the day.  Entrance into that paradise can only be found when we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.  And by His righteousness we enter in, secure in the satisfying presence of the source of our satisfaction.

Don’t settle for cheap imitations and instant gratification; the reward of righteousness is worth the wait.

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Can God Lead us into Temptation?…

April 13, 2011

“Lead us not into temptation…” Matthew 6:13

Temptation will come in the life of every believer and non-believer alike.  There are few days and if we’re honest few hours in our lives that are devoid of temptation.  Christ instructs us to pray to our Father in Heaven and ask the He lead us not into temptation, but that begs the questions Can we be tempted by God?

We have to understand what the word temptation means here, if temptation means “to sin” then no there is no way that God will lead us into temptation.  The key text about God’s blamelessness in regards to sinful temptation is James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘ I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”   John MacArthur writes,  “God’s holiness and goodness will not allow His leading anyone, certainly not one of His children, into a place or experience in which they would purposely be induced to commit sin.”[1]

But of course the “temptation” in view here is not temptation to sin, but rather a time of trial, where if one fails, sin might result.  God frequently in Scripture ‘tries’ and tests those he loves, testing their faith and faithfulness. The perfect model of grace under the fires of temptation is Christ.  Christ was subject to temptation in everyway that we are, “yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)  Christ was “led by the Spirit” into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (the Evil, or evil one from whom we ask to be delivered).  Satan tempted Christ’ appetite in His hunger (Matt 4:3 bread); He was tempted Christ’s obedience to God (4:6); and He tempted Christ’s pride with the kingdoms of the world (4:8-9).  Christ prevailed in each, for He knew that appetites are not satisfied in bread alone (4:4); Obedience is greater than sacrifice, He would not test God through sin (4:7); And His kingdoms are not of this world, He bows the knee to the Father alone ascribing Him glory, “For thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory Forever” (Matt 6:13).

God tempts, or tries, those whom He loves knowing that through trial we learn to rely on him.  He uses the fires of trial to refine us, and we are blessed if we persevere. (James 1:12)  When we are faced with a time of trial, or are tempted, we face a choice, we can choose to sin or we can choose to flee temptation, run to God and rejoice.  Abraham prevailed through the temptation with faith; and it was by that faith he was justified.Hbr 11:17

God allows us to experience temptation, but provides us with the strength to resist, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; an God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”(1 Corinthians 10:13)  When we are in Christ, we pass through the fires of temptation and rather than being burnt up, we are refined, “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious that gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:7)  Our faith is bolstered when we pass through temptation, after-all “unless a ship can ride a storm, what good is it.”

Without God’s help through Christ, when we face temptation and times of trial, we inevitably fail.  When we fail we become anxious and fearful.  We find that rather than being refined we are run-down; rather than being delivered we are demoralized.  Thanks be to God that He provides us with strength and has given us this prayer and this petition; so that when times of trial come we walk not in fear but in faith knowing that He will lead us in the path of righteousness for His namesake and for His glory.


[1] MacArthur, John MacArthur NT Commentary Matthew 1-7. Pg. 395