“All That Is In The World…” Gen 3:6, Matt 4:1-10, 1 John 2:16 (CBB 2009)
I had heard an evangelist preach that Jesus’ temptations represent the same kinds of temptations that we all experience. When one looks at the three of them (Matthew 4:1-10) they seem to be the temptation to let ourselves be driven by our physical appetites, by the lure of the pleasure of materialism/ accumulation of wealth and worldly power, and by the temptation to test our status or value to God, others, or ourselves (ego fulfillment). For a Disciple I class I was reading the Genesis account of satan’s temptation of Eve. Genesis 3:6 says that she saw that it (the fruit) was good for food (physical appetite), was pleasant to the eyes (appeal to pleasure/materialism/covetousness/accumulation) and would make one wise (ego self gratification, to become like God). I had pondered the similarity between the types of the temptations in these two scriptures. Then I was reading Robert Munger’s “My Heart, Christ’s Home” and I saw this quote from 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world.” It seems to me that, in this scripture, John is recapping and characterizing the three types of temptations that mankind faced in the Garden of Eden and Christ, too, experienced in the wilderness. Seeing this same triad of temptations in these three locations suggests to me that it is worthy of note. In fact, my experience has taught me that anytime I observe God repeating something three times, it is definitely noteworthy. The question becomes, are the temptations that we experience all reducible to these three categories? I suspect that fundamentally, they are. If so, what do we learn from Christ’s response compared to Eve’s? Obviously, Christ 1.)knew the source of the temptations and 2.) rejected them using God’s Word. Eve didn’t seem to recognize the source or know how to combat it. We, too, should grow spiritually to the point that we can recognize the temptations that beset us, knowing their source. Our knowledge of the Word should be thorough enough to give us all the defense we need when faced with the temptations.
In reviewing Genesis 3:6 (Eve’s temptation in the garden), Matthew 4 :1-10 (Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness) and 1 John 2:16 (John’s summary of the nature of sin, characterized as “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life”) I am reminded that one of the challenges for people in recovery is seeing that the problem that they have is not external to themselves- someone or something that they are tempted to blame-but within them. But as one reads these scriptures, it is easy to see how we can attribute our temptations to something outside of ourselves, too. Eve’s problem began with the serpent. Jesus was tempted by the devil.
John says that “everything in the world (these temptations)…. comes not from the Father but from the world. He divides all of life into two neat categories- “of the world” and “of the Father” and makes it clear that the two are incompatible. Some of us have difficulty seeing, however, that we are “of the world” by nature, not “of the Father”.
Eve’s temptation came to her in her own environment from outside of herself in the form of the serpent who knew just how to present the temptations so that all three of these weaknesses in human nature were touched- she saw that the fruit was good for food (lust of the flesh), pleasing to the eye (lust of the eyes), and desirable for gaining wisdom (pride of life). And though the temptation was presented from outside of her, disobedience came from within. She knew what God had said, but she allowed herself to be deceived by the subtle twisting of His words by satan. That disobedience to the word spoken by God was the sin.
Jesus, too, was presented temptations that came from outside of himself, too, although Scripture tells us that he was led to the place where he was to be tempted. They were, in fact, the same ones that satan used to appeal to Eve- lust of the flesh (feed his hunger by turning stones to bread), lust of the eyes (to possess the nations and all their glory for himself), and pride of life (to test his value to God by throwing himself down from the mountain). But his response was obedience to the Word of God, which he knew and recited. In doing so, he thwarted satan’s plan, who then retreated to await another opportune time (and with someone else who would be used against Jesus!)
Two lives. Same temptations. Different responses.
Paul shows us the same dichotomy in Romans 8:13 “For if you live according to the flesh (the sinful nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the flesh, you will live…” We all have the same choices that Eve and Jesus faced- to respond to the same three temptations. Whether we respond like Eve or like Jesus depends on whether we are “of the world” living according to the flesh, without knowledge or obedience to the Word, or “of the Father” living according to the Spirit.
In these three places in scripture we clearly see that the source of temptation to sin is reduced to three types- lust of the flesh (physical appetites), lust of the eyes (acquisitive desires for material goods or power), and pride of life (egotism, desiring status in someone else’s eyes). The three scriptures are Genesis 3:6, Matthew 4:1-10, and 1 John 2:16-17.
In Rick Warren/ John Baker’s Celebrate Recovery’s lessons, as a part of beginning the inventory development step, they talk about sins and the damage they do to our “basic social, security, and/or sexual instincts”. When I read that a little light when on. Those three “instincts” fall into the same three categories as the categories of sins in scripture.
sexual instincts = physical appetites (lust of the flesh)
security= desire for goods or power (lust of the eyes)
social= desire to have status in relation to others (pride of life).
I also have heard Rev. Skip Heitzig from Calvary Chapel talking about the 1 John scripture. He said that pride of life (which he called bragging egotism) is a “social sin”, it requires the presence of other people where the first two are private sins, confirming my recognition of the connection between the two lists.
It just never ceases to amaze me how the Holy Spirit leads different people to the same Truths in the Word! Truth is Truth is Truth……
Heitzig went on to point out that John, in verse 17, further divides everything into two categories- “of the Father” or “of the world”. In the Truth Project curriculum, Del Tackett says essentially the same thing with regard to worldviews. There’s the biblical Christian worldview and “all others”, for all practical purposes. The things of the world will pass away, but the things of the Father are eternal.
Key Verses and Principles on Temptations:
1 Corinthians 10:13
– All humankind experiences the same temptations.
– God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our endurance.
– God provides a way of escape for any temptation that is allowed to come against us.
Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 2:18, James 1:13-14, 1 John 2:16
– Christ was, in all ways, tempted just as we are.
– Because Christ was tempted, we can be confident in his aid when we are tempted.
– God is not tempted by evil and God does not tempt anyone. We are tempted by the enticement of our own desires.
– There are only 3 temptations that we face in the world.
“Of the World/Flesh” or “Of the Spirit”- Diagram of key points in comparison of the 3 examples of temptation types
In Matthew 4, in each of his three answers to Satan, Jesus used the same phrase. What is it?
What does it mean? What is Jesus doing in response to temptation?
Connect the verses in Matthew 4 with the corresponding verses in Deuteronomy:
Matthew 4:4 Deuteronomy 6:13
Matthew 4:7 Deuteronomy 6:16
Matthew 4:10 Deuteronomy 8:3
What are the temptations you face?
How can you follow Jesus’ example and arm yourself against temptations?
How does Jesus address believers? Why isn’t he ashamed to address them this way? Hebrews 2:11
What are some results of Jesus becoming a man? Hebrews 2:14-15
1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man: and 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, that you may be able to endure it.” What does this scripture mean?
What is the way out of temptation for all of us?
Take time now to pray:
• Thank God that he understands what it is like to be tempted.
• Ask him for help to overcome your temptations.
• When you fail, be sure to claim his promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
• Thank him for his mercy.