As I've reflected on some of my experiences in the deserts and wastelands of life, I've noticed something that, at once is both disconcerting and a relief. That thing is that I am mostly responsible for that condition. In a passage that deals with perseverance during trials, James wrote, "When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers" (Jas. 1:13-16). Note that it's not the devil who entices. It is our own "evil desire."
You may say, 'Well, duh!' It does seem rather obvious. But, what's not so obvious is the part our enemy may play in the process. Let's take a look the story of someone else. In Genesis 3 the account of the so-called "Fall" is recorded. I'm not going to deal with the doctrine of original sin at this time. Maybe another day. What I do want to point out is the hint of a process that we may find ourselves in. Verse 6 reads, "When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and
pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took
some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it." Note that the woman saw that the "tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye." How she figured it was good for food, I don't know. For anyone who has picked a pleasing mushroom, eaten it, and ended up in the hospital this doesn't make a great deal of sense. Anyway, she also saw that it was desirable for gaining wisdom. Desirable. The serpent, who was "more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made," had focused on the desire of our ancient ancestors. He did not create the desire, but pointed out the pleasing features of the fruit. For anyone who says that this was the first time that the humans had thoughts about this tree, I say, probably not. They were, after all, flesh. Paul had a lot to say about this 'meat tent' we wear. However, as this post goes, I want to look at 1 Cor. 15. In that chapter Paul wrote about the resurrection and the inability of the flesh to be a part of that. Verse 47 has special significance for this discussion. Paul wrote, "The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven." Adam and Eve were of the earth, earthly, flesh and blood...dust. They had the same propensity to feed the appetites and desires of the flesh as you and me. And, feed it they did.
What I see in this whole episode was: 1. A desire in the humans. 2. A temptation that was directly attributed to the existing desire. 3. And, this is most important...the humans owned the temptation as theirs. The serpent did not force anything. But, I've found that the devil's most insidious tactic is to make humans think that feeding the appetites and desires...sinning...is their own idea! And, that the action will be beneficial. How great the craftiness of the enemy of our souls! We do not 'hear' a prompt from an outside source. Something that we would be able to dismiss. The prompting comes from within ourselves so that we are completely deceived.
I'm going to stop here so that these things can be reflected on. I know it sounds confusing, so much double-talk. But, there is freedom here. Freedom to own up to our responsibility for sin. This, in turn, affords us the opportunity to come before Yahweh in sorrow. It allows us to change directions and to be restored. It also provides us with an insight into how temptation and the devil interact. This knowledge may allow us to be better prepared and give us a defensive weapon to use against him.