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Temptation and Trust


In popular books and films, temptation is often portrayed as the dark desires for things like sex, power, or money. While those things certainly can become temptations, today’s reading shows us that at root, temptation is fundamentally about whether we trust God’s intentions for us or not.

The serpent’s underlying strategy was to raise doubt about God’s good intentions for humanity. The serpent began by calling into question God’s reasonableness: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (v. 1). Why would God be so restrictive? Of course, God had actually said that they were “free to eat from any tree in the garden” except one (Gen. 2:16–17), but the serpent’s ploy was effective.

Eve responded by restricting God’s word, misquoting God’s command by adding the clause: “you must not touch it” (v. 3). She then minimized the consequences of disobedience. Whereas God had said that if they ate of the tree, “you will certainly die” (Gen. 2:17), Eve simply stated: “you will die” (v. 3). Thus, having produced a seed of doubt about God’s character, the serpent went for the kill: “You will not certainly die” (v. 4). The serpent depicted God as a liar who was trying to prevent humanity from attaining godlikeness.

In response, Eve looked at the fruit in a new way. It was “good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (v. 6). It was no longer a danger God was trying to protect her from, but rather a sinister means God was using to hide something from her. Adam and Eve’s act of disobedience, like all sin today, stemmed directly from the temptation to mistrust God’s loving relationship with us.

Apply the Word

Temptation is ultimately rooted in a mistrust of God’s intentions. If you have things you struggle to trust God for in your life, these are likely the greatest areas of temptation. One way to resist the temptation to doubt God is to list those areas in which you struggle to trust the Lord. Then pray over your list, asking God to increase your trust.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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