When you’re on the internet and stumble across an insect named: The Spider-Eating Assassin Bug, you know you just have find out how this bug earns his name. Trust me, this bug really earns it.
Apparently the Spider-Eating Assassin Bug hunts spiders that are already squatting in their own webs. Yes, this bug does not lure the spider away from its home, but rather goes to the spider’s home. It inches up to the outer edges of the web and slowly unravels the spider’s webby defense. In fact, the spider does not even sense any vibrations. After the outer edges are opened, the Assassin bug creeps a little closer to its prey. It sticks out two lanky legs and lightly plucks the webby strands like guitar strings. The spider, thinking he has dinner waiting, scurries right into an ambush. With one stab of the Assassin Bug’s jaws, the spider is paralyzed, killed, and devoured. Sly tactics, clever deceptions, and effective stinger— that’s all it takes for the Spider-Eating Assassin Bug to kill.
That’s all takes for your enemy to lure, attack, and kill! Yes, even today— in your life. Temptations are launched against you every single day, every hour, every moment, seeking to lure you away from God. Temptation Is Serious.
You see its devastating effects in our Old Testament reading. Yet, just think what kind of world existed before the Fall into sin.
Everything bursts into existence just by the power-packed words of God’s mouth. Light and dark, sky and oceans, land, sea, and vegetation, sun, moon, and stars, sea, air, and land animals. [T]he Lord God had [even] planted a garden in the east, in Eden… And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. Everything is perfect.
Yet, this is not God’s crowning jewel; he saves his masterpiece for last. Like a master Sculptor, God stoops down, scoops up the dust of the earth, and begins shaping man. Eyes and ears, hands and feet, head and brain, chest and heart, nose and lungs— he carefully and thoughtfully arranges everything into its right place. When everything is set just right, God bends down and gives life to the lifeless. He breath[es] into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Nothing else in all creation receives such special treatment. Trees, lakes, dirt— God speaks; they instantly appear. Birds of the air, fish in the water, dogs and cats, lions and elephants— every single animal— God says: “Let there be…” and they pop into existence. But man— man is different. Carefully sculpted. Thoughtfully constructed. Literally made by hand. It demonstrates that humanity is different; you are different. You are set apart from all the other animals and objects in the world. God invests so much time in you so that you can have a special relationship with him!
If that sounds too good to be true, then see how The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it… It is like a groom carrying his bride into their brand-new, never before seen house. God introduces Adam to everything he created and says: “I did this all for you!” This is life! Pain-free, perfect, joyful, delightful, innocent, secure, worry-free, and however else you want to describe it. Adam’s life is spent nestled not in a little spider web, but in a perfectly lush garden filled with every imaginable thing to provide for his every imaginable need!
The way Adam would live is really quite simple. [T]he Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” That’s it; this is how Adam will spend his days. Working the most perfectly satisfying job. Thanking a gracious God with obedience. Yes, Adam’s worship is not in a church building or in singing, it’s by obeying.
To us that command may sound like God is too strict and needs to lighten up. Yet, is that command really different from the others you already follow? Your spouse tells you on your wedding day: “Love me unconditionally.” So you do. Not because you are a slave, but because your love prompts you to love. You hold your first newborn child in your arms. Those baby blue eyes pierce deep into your own eyes and command: “Love me.” You do. Not because you must, but because your love for this child pulls you to love in ways never before imagined. Your God tells Adam and Eve: “Do not eat.” So, they do not. Not because God drains fun from life, but because he loves them and knows what is best for them. God’s perfect command reveals the perfect relationship God desires to have with us.
While Adam lives with Eve in their perfect home, an enemy reaches their gates. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. Yes, this is a real live snake. The Hebrew word for snake translates: “serpent” (and this is the most common word for “snake. It does not describe anything else than a snake). Yet, this serpent is “crafty”— a way of saying that this snake possesses moral responsibility. We are dealing with more than a just snake.
Once this serpent had the chance, he broke into Adam and Eve’s home. Just like plucking a spider’s web, this devilish serpent plucks at their love for God. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Yes, God did say that; that’s the truth. Yet, here is his trap: He wants Eve to reconsider God’s command. “What do you think, Eve? Did God really mean you should avoid every single tree? You be the judge!” Plink.
He lures her a little closer. “You will not surely die.” A more literal reading is: “Not: ‘Surely you will die!’ God has it wrong, Eve! Eating from that forbidden tree will not kill you. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” That must be the reason for his command. God’s hiding something! God must know something that you do not! …that you may possibly threaten his authority! …that you could maybe take his position as supreme being! …that you could be God! Eve, if this is true, then God is evil!” Plink.
The spider scurries towards something that feels good— or, in this case, Eve reaches for a fruit that looks good. [T]he 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. With that one act, the Tempter-Assassin injects his deadly venom into his prey. Adam and Eve learned what is good. God is good! Adam and Eve learned what is evil. They are evil! Disobedience separates from a perfect God! Shame compels you to cover up! Guilt pushes you to hide! Fear hopes that God will simply never find out! Oh, yes, Adam and Eve learned the good they failed to do and understood the evil they committed instead.
Even though the devil succeeded in plunging the world into sin, even though Jesus has already come and crushed the serpent’s head, the Tempter still stays busy at work. Like the Tempter-Assassin he is, every trick, every empty promise, every lie is simply meant to separate you from God. And he has not changed his tactics.
He will quote Bible passages accurately and then ask for your judgment on them. “Did God really say… ‘Keep the marriage bed pure?’ (Hebrews 13:4). Do you think marriage is so necessary today? Do you think fantasies about someone you’re not married to is so bad? You aren’t touching them. Why don’t you decide for yourself whose word to follow.”
He will cite Bible passages, only to call them lies. “Yes, the Bible teaches: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’ (Acts 5:29) but that’s not what God means. God knows that you can judge for yourself who to obey. If killing the unborn seems justifiable to you, then defend the cause! If anyone can marry anyone and it does not have negative results, then it must not be that bad! God doesn’t want you to think for yourself. He wants to control you!” Plink.
Every single temptation seeks to lure your heart a little further away from the Word. Every single lie sets up God, not as someone who mercifully loves you, but rather as some tyrant controlling you. Every single deception puts out one false hope after another— that life will be better when you listen to your own heart and your own feelings instead of what God desires. It sounds logical. It sounds good. Really—it does, that is, until you see the kind of life Adam and Eve lost.
It is as though the opening chapters of Genesis are meant to show just how much different God is from us! Throughout all of chapter two, you see God pour out love after love after love! Trees for food. Water for plants to thrive. Atmosphere for things to live. He plants a garden. He makes the effort to place man in a location where he can thrive. Nowhere in these opening verses can you accuse God of harming man. Nowhere can you fault God for leaving something out. Nowhere can you accuse God of doing evil. By the time you reach chapter three, you recognize the problem with life as we know it today did not start with God; it comes from us!
That’s what makes Temptation so Serious. It seeks to separate you from God. Yet, because Temptation is Serious, it is the reason why Jesus comes.
He steps into your world. Unlike Eden’s harmonious perfection, this world is infected with frustrations, broken dreams, decay, sickness, failed promises, and death. Jesus looks into the eyes of every passerby and sees victim after victim of the Tempter-Assassin. So, he heads out into the desert to destroy the devil.
Like before, the Tempter sees his prey. He inches up beside the Son of God, plinking away at his heartstrings. “Is God really going to feed you?” he hisses “You’re so hungry! Make bread!” Jesus doesn’t budge. “I trust my heavenly Father.”
“God said that his angels will protect you,” he breathes “Jump off a cliff. See if he will.” “Yes, God is protecting me— right now. I know this. I will not test him out of doubt.” “Worship me just this one time and everything is yours!” “The Bible teaches: ‘Worship God alone!’”
The Tempter constantly plucks at the object of Jesus’ love, but can never lure Jesus away from absolute love for God. Try as he might, he cannot stop Jesus from reaching the cross. Instead, on the cross, Jesus plants his heel on the Serpent’s head, crushing it forever. The one who led the whole world astray cannot stop Jesus from bringing you into the perfect relationship God intended for you and me.
You see, Jesus’ wilderness trials are not meant to provide a “How-To” manual against temptation. Instead, it reveals how Jesus is tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Because Jesus is without sin, he can give you the free gift of righteousness. He can assure you of eternal life in heaven’s perfect Eden.
Yes, be sure, until the day you reach your heavenly home, the Tempter will strive to lure you away from God. He will call God a liar. He will challenge the truth. He will contradict the effects of Jesus’ death. Yet, look at the cross; know Jesus has defeated the devil. The cross is proof all is done.
Because Jesus wins, it means the perfect Garden of Eden is already yours. Yes, you will experience it in heaven’s joyful bliss. Until that day, you live in the righteousness of Jesus. That relationship between you and God is restored.