Friday, July 29, 2011

Really, right there in the middle?

I was reading through Genesis and as I came across Genesis chapter 3 a question leaped out at me. First let me share the verse with you.

"'Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,' the woman replied. It's only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, 'You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.'" Genesis 3:2-3

Now, Eve, is being tempted here and she is trying to prove her case as we all do when we are tempted. Funny we can change things around and make every excuse for why we should other than why we shouldn't. But what stands out to me is this. Why did God place that tree in the middle of the garden? I mean right smack dab in the middle? Why not place it off in the corner some place where they wouldn't see it daily and be tempted by it? I must say I have been pondering this question.

"The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. but the Lord God warned him, 'you may freely eat the fruit of the every tree in the garden-except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.'" Genesis 2:15-17

My thoughts? Well, our lives are surrounded by temptation. Where is temptation usually? It isn't in the corner of our life, it is right smack dab in the middle of everything! Was God making a point here? Have I totally been missing something?

"Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. but if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live." Romans 8:12-13

We battle temptation daily, sometimes moment by moment, but the amazing thing is, as we are faced with temptation in the middle of everyday, we can fight it! The Holy Spirit gives us all we need to move away from it, turn from it, and leave it in its tracks.

We are no different than Eve. Oh sure, we try to say we are, but we are tempted just as she was and we make excuses placing blame on others. Oh, how we love to point the finger when we fall into sin. Eve was blaming Adam and Satan and Adam was blaming Eve and Satan. Satan is not called the prince of lies for nothing. He is the great deceiver. We are deceived by the temptations that are in the middle of our day to day lives.

"Do not love the world nor the things if offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. There are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever." 1 John 2:15-17

Eve was craving the fruit. Not fruit from the good tree, but fruit that would bring death. How long do you think she enjoyed that bite of fruit before she was wishing she had never taken a bite? Just like us, right? We give in, but for a second and that sin we thought just minor and mighty enjoyable for a few minutes brings much that we were not looking for. Isn't that how sin works? It isn't lasting, but the effects of it are. Sin is lasting. It doesn't just touch us, but everyone around us. Death? What kind of death was God speaking of? There is physical death and spiritual death. We can be walking dead. We can be sitting in our church pew every Sunday dead as can be. Sure, our heart might be beating, but we don't have a pulse. Sin is sin. Temptation is not sin. Only when we give into it does it become sin.

We might ask ourselves, "How in the world did I get to this place?" One sin at a time. We can awaken from our spiritual death by turning from that sin. We must acknowledge the sin. Ask forgiveness of the sin. Pray for strength to over come the sin and courage to turn from the temptation to do it again. Our flesh is weak. Satan knows each and every weakness. Why do you think he throws temptation in our face at our weakest moments?

"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, 'God is tempting me.' God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don't be misled, my dear brothers and sisters." James 1:12-16

That temptation right smack dab in the middle of our lives will do everything it can to have us give in to it, just as Eve did. We can fight temptation. It doesn't have to lead to sin. When we are tempted might we remember the promises of God and know that what He has for us is lasting! There is a fruit we are to eat of. There is a fruit we are to multiply in our lives. If we stay focused on that and place it in the middle of everything we do, it will give strength in those times of our weakness. The more we put it on and the more we share it, the more blessings there are to flow right in the middle of our lives!

"But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!" Galatians 5:22-23
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