The Image of God and Temptation

Temptation is a funny thing; it’s all around us, and takes a myriad of forms. Some things may tempt one person to stumble; while another may take no notice of it at all… yes it’s a funny thing. OK, I’ll confess right now, potato chips are my downfall! At my house an open bag is an empty bag; they own me… I just cannot possibly say no when they call my name; woe is me, for Satan has my number!

Obviously, the only thing I said about potato chips that is actually true is that I really like them and eat more than I should; the rest is nonsense, purely a justification to deflect my own irresponsible choice to eat too many of them. Could I walk right by and not have any? Yes, but I usually don’t. Could I eat one or two and then stop? Yes, but I usually don’t. Is there anyone else to blame for this? No, not on your life; it’s all me.

Well, there is temptation in a nutshell.

To be clear and fair, I understand that there are medical conditions that affect some people in one way or another; I am not including that possibility in my remarks here; that is different topic entirely, so let’s understand that I am not talking to people with medical, addiction or mental health problems in this post. Got it?

For most of us, when we fall into temptation, it was all our own doing; it was not necessary, and when we are honest with ourselves, we know that to be true.

With that said, then what is temptation really?

It is being presented with a choice to do or not do something that can harm us and/or our relationship with God. Yes, there are some lengthy systematic theologies on temptation, but when you sift out all of the unnecessary words, it comes down to making a choice, and no one is forcing us to choose the wrong one. We can blame this whole dilemma on the devil or this fallen world or anything you want, but temptation was present in the Garden of Eden when Man lived in perfect fellowship with God in a pre-fallen state, and Man made the wrong choice in spite of everything. Yes, the serpent was involved, but if he pointed a gun at Adam and Eve, that detail was omitted from the text.

No sir! Temptation is a consequence of free will.

God made us in His image, and one of the attributes that we have in common with God is free will. How do we use our free will to glorify God? Let’s go back to Genesis 3…

There are two trees that stood together in the center of the Garden; look, there’s Eve and the serpent having their little chat: The serpent asks the first question, Eve responds correctly. The serpent responds with a bald-faced lie. Eve hesitates, tempted, looks at the forbidden fruit; it looks really good, then she remembers who and what she is, and then she… grabs the yummy fruit from the Tree of Life takes a big bite, smacks her lips and says,”Hit the road Jack!” And God is glorified.

OK, here’s one last question: Who told you that you can’t do that?

Boy, would I love to hear your thoughts!

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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33 Responses to The Image of God and Temptation

  1. Can we do it! Yes! In fact, we do it every day, hundreds of time. While shopping we are present with that item that we would really like, but cannot afford…do we pass it by, or sneak it under out coat? We go to w buffet for lunch or dinner, we eat to satisfaction, do we stop or does our gluttony take over and we eat past that point?

    Most of the time people do the right thing, but, occasionally, we fall short. Jesus knew this and is why He told us that His Father is ready to forgive us, if we but ask. I wonder how different things would have turned out had Adam and Eve owned up to their sin, instead of passing the ball to the serpent.

  2. DGHDelgado says:

    Don, thank you for leading this off honestly. Chips.

    For me it looks like tortilla chips with melted cheese. It’s not just an open bag, it’s the spilling of them onto the tray, the shredding of the cheddar, the over indulgence. That’s what it comes down to: over indulgence. It’s not the actual food, it’s the choice of how much I can excuse it because it looks light and costs little. What I’m doing can’t possibly turn into gluttony…

    Oh… the way we talk ourselves into things.

    In the grand scheme of the universe, does Jesus care about a bag of chips?
    No.
    He cares about how we decide to relate to the bag of chips; about what our decision does to our heart.

  3. pipermac5 says:

    I think that what we believe concerning a particular item or behavior has a strong-bearing on whether we indulge in it or abstain. I also like chips, particularly Fritos, but only with a meal, and only with certain meals. I think that part of that stems from having lived in Albuquerque where chips are always served with Mexican food, so I will have Fritos with chili or a burger, but rarely otherwise. A party-size bag usually lasts me at least two months. I also like a good, dark ale, but only at certain times and places. I very rarely drink alone, so I still have the same half of a six-pack of Killian’s Irish Red that I have had for many months, maybe even a year. I don’t like it well enough to get drunk, because I know from experience that getting drunk is NOT a pleasant experience. I also like sex, a LOT, but only with the right person, at the right time and in the right place, so I am not out looking for women to have sex with nor cruising the internet “get laid tonight” websites. All three things are good, but only in their time and place. I think that our downfall is when we turn our desire for something “good” into an obsession.

    Blessings!

    Steve

    • Don Merritt says:

      And you are probably right about that

      • pipermac5 says:

        Chips are “good”, in moderation, but if I eat too many, they may expand my waistline, which isn’t good. Dark ale is “good”, but if I drink too much, I don’t like the consequences. Sex is “good”, and one of the finest gifts God gave to married-couples, but if I misuse sex, the consequences can be devastating. I also like the “scoot-pedal” on my ’03 Durango, because it has enough “scoot” to enable me to merge with traffic on the interstate regardless of the speed, but it also has enough “scoot” to greatly-exceed any posted speed-limits. Yes, I have always enjoyed the thrill of “speed”, but one speeding-ticket is one-too-many, and I can’t afford another one. All of those things are “good” when used properly, but misusing them always has consequences, which is NOT “good”.

        Temptation has no bearing on using things properly and in moderation, but everything to do with abusing them. King David had no lack of women to have sex with – legitimately, so it wasn’t that he was “deprived” or “sex-starved”, but he wasn’t satisfied with what he had, so he desired, he craved, he coveted, he lusted after something “new”, something “different”, and he stopped at nothing to get it, and even though he got what he wanted, a sword hung over his head for the rest of his life. Were the consequences worth that romp in the sack? Even though it was all part of God’s plan, the answer has to be a resounding “NO!!!”.

  4. Roos Ruse says:

    Choice. The concept has also monopolized my thoughts for weeks. Through all the what-ifs, daily the journey brings me back to the glory of grace.

  5. bcaudle77 says:

    Not only do we fall to easy for the quick satisfaction of lust but then we try to blame everything but ourselves just like Adam did. God it was the women you gave me, God it was the serpent that told me…..

    I have found out for myself that maturity has a lot to do with my bad decisions……

    In regards to how long are you going to act like a child…

    Thanks Don!

  6. lovessiamese says:

    Hi, Don. Been a while since I visited, trying to get my email down to a manageable level, do research, keep up with my blog (somewhat), and do my own writing. Ok; I’ve let things pile up to the point that I’ve neglected people I care about. It’s one of the things I’m good at: procrastination. We all have to be good at something, right? Anyway, I really enjoyed these two posts and glad to see the link back in my email. Please forgive me for neglecting you for so long. Have a blessed and glorious day.

  7. Brother Don, choice is the key isn’t it? And what can be simpler than that? If we didn’t have that ability to choose, we couldn’t choose to Love the Lord or allow Him to love us! And I love what Roos Ruse stated, the glory of grace! We have grace because of our ability to choose. The Apostle Paul stated that the things that I want to do, choose to do, I don’t do and what I don’t want to do, I end up choosing to do! Except for the Grace of God, whoa is me!!! Love it Brother and I wish I could put the simplicity of the Word into words as you do, it is a gift and one I do appreciate!
    God bless, brother!

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thank you Roland; much appreciated. Oh, and you do have a way with words; it may be a bit different than the way I express things, but I think you always get to the heart of the matter in a way that makes one think and reflect 🙂

  8. Lizzy says:

    Temptation. Yikes!!! It is a tough thing to handle. It is a choice. Everything in life is a choice. Some choices, however, are a wee bit more complicated to make than others. Spice it up with a wee bit of this or a dash of that and the whole thing can be swayed the wrong way. But it is a choice.

  9. dwmartens says:

    Interesting! Temptation is our opportunity to make a choice. I’ve been plodding through “God In Search of Man — A Philosophy of Judaism” by Abraham Joshua Heschel (within a dozen pages of the end, finally). In chapter 41 “Freedom” in the section “Freedom and Creation” he writes: “We are free to choose between good and evil; we are not free in having to choose. We are in fact compelled to choose. Thus all freedom is a situation of God’s waiting for man to choose.”

    Fascinating how different sources of a theme come up together in life, making one think the more deeply on a point.

  10. lovessiamese says:

    We make choices even when we don’t realize we’re making them: memories–to dwell on the negative or the positive? To answer with grace when criticized or respond in kind? To judge the serial killer/pedophile/prostitute/etc., or reach out in God’s love? Not always easy to choose right. Sometimes just the choice to veg out and play solitaire or get out of my comfort zone and reach out to a neighbor.

  11. jimbelton says:

    Interesting post, Don. Here are some of my thoughts on it: Eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge is an allegory for the achievement of consciousness by humankind. Man, unlike the animals, is fully conscious (well, most of us, at least). Animals take what they need, and live in harmony with the earth. Only man takes more than he can use. With consciousness comes suffering. Only by becoming perfect (as Jesus would say, like the Father) will we be free from it. A truly enlightened man would not even feel temptation. Jesus explains this when he says that “whosoever is angry with his brother without cause is in danger of judgment”. Simply giving in to the temptation to anger is enough to throw you out of the enlightened state (which Christians call “being in Christ”). The path to that state consists of resisting temptations until they pass away, and the grasping “monkey mind” becomes quiet. At such time that enough people have achieved this state, creating a critical mass of “God consciousness”, the kingdom will finally come, and those who have, until that time, been unable to become Christlike will be given the choice to give up desires and attachments and enter it, or to remain in the material world of temptation, material pleasures, and suffering.

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