Speaking the Truth Lovingly2 Corinthians 11:1-15Theme: Courageous compassion.This week’s lessons teach us how to confront sin in a caring way. LessonIf you have come in your study of the Word to something that speaks to your condition, something you are not to do – and there are negative commands in the Bible, though it is far more filled with positive commands than negative ones – Satan is right there, as you read it, to say, “I told you all along. God is not good. He does not want you to be happy. He does not want you to have that good thing. That thing would make you happy, wouldn’t it? Yes, it would. God does not want you to be happy. That is why he says, ‘No, no, no, you cannot have it.’ ”
As a result, we begin to doubt God’s goodness, which is such a foolish thing to do. The reason God says no is that he knows that the thing we want so much would harm us. If God says no, it is like a mother saying to a child, “Do not play with the knife.” The child responds, “But it is shiny. It is pretty. I won’t hurt myself.” She says again, “Do not play with the knife.” The child cries, “You do not like me.” That is the way we react when God says no to us. We should not doubt God when he says no.
With Eve, Satan was casting doubt not merely on the benevolence of God, but on the Word of God also. That is what the world says today. As Christians we try to live by this Book. But what is the world telling us? The world is telling us that God’s Word is not true. It says, “God did not say that. And if he did, it is not relevant. Why are you living in the past? Why are you so hung up on that Book and all those rules and regulations?” That is the voice of Satan and we must recognize that. It is the seduction of the evil one, because if we really are God’s people, his Word is the place we hear him. That is where God speaks. That is where the voice of Jesus comes through clearly to our ears. That is why we have to be men and women of the Book.
We live in a world that has no use for the Bible, that has no use for Christian values or Christian truth. If you are not feeding on this Word, you are just drifting in the world’s way and nothing is going to stop you from going the way of the world. On the contrary, you have to say, “This is what God says. Let God be true and every man a liar. I am going to stand by his Word regardless of what anybody else teaches.”
There was a third point in Satan’s seduction of Eve. After he cast doubt on the goodness of God and had contradicted God’s Word, Satan held out the bait, which was that they might be as gods – the greatest temptation of all – the very thing that had caused Satan’s own downfall. Here, having failed in his own ambition, he passes along to Eve the same cheap but seductive argument. Eve, in turn, eventually passed it on to Adam. She believed the lie, that if they sinned, they would become like gods, knowing good and evil.
Now, there is a certain sense in which, by the grace of God, we do become like God. We are made in the image of God, though we lost it at the fall. But the work of Jesus Christ in redemption restores us to that image so that we actually do become like God. It is God’s work. It is the work of holiness and sanctification.
But we can easily be misled in a temptation of this sort. Rather than seeking to be like God in his holiness, we seek to take the place of God. We want to rule like God. We want to do whatever we feel like doing. We really wish to be autonomous in this universe, and we are tempted to go to great lengths to achieve that.
Can you see this in the world today? The world is saying, “Man is the measure of all things. We are going to do what we want to do. We are going to determine our own morality. Nobody is going to tell us what to do. We will do what we want and we will take the world by storm, by conquest.” Paul said that is not courage. That is not wisdom. That is the voice of Satan leading you from God.
What does it mean when God denies us something we want?
What was the greatest temptation that Satan presented to Eve?
Further StudyFor a greater grasp of God’s goodness, spend time studying each verse of Psalm 37.
ReflectionThink back on recent temptations you experienced. What thoughts were underlying the temptation?