Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.1 Timothy 4:16
Paul tells Timothy to keep a close watch over his own soul; this is something we all must do, but very few actually do. Why do you struggle with particular sins? Why do you have days with no temptations but then have days with more temptation than you could imagine? Where do these temptations come from? Is there any victory over sin? How can you finally overcome sin?
For the most part, Christians have been taught “don’t do this” and “do that.” These teachings are true, biblical, and helpful. However, in many respects these teachings do not help us to overcome our besetting sins. Obviously, that is why Jesus came. He came to do what we could not do, defeat sin. However, many Christians who believe this have a hard time walking in victory over their sins. They do not know how to identify the real causes of their temptations.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.Genesis 3:1-6
Eve’s temptation and sin offer us tons of insight into our own temptations.
- Temptation always has its root in unbelief and wrong beliefs, both of which are inseparable. Eve did not believe that God was good (unbelief), and she believed that God was withholding good from her (wrong beliefs.) Every temptation to sin begins with unbelief and wrong beliefs.
- This unbelief and belief in a lie all begin with the most subtle of doubts. For example, our loss of temper does not begin with a denial of the Trinity; it begins with a slight doubt of God’s good control over our circumstances.
- These wrong beliefs cause us to look for legitimate needs in perverted or twisted ways. Hunger is a legitimate need, but Eve could have eaten the fruit God has given her to eat. All sin is a perversion of a good desire. It is seeking to satisfy a legitimate need that can only be met by God by looking to someone or something other than God.
- In light of all these things, sin is always idolatry, making someone or something god. For Eve, she became her own god; her desires mattered more than God’s desires.
- Before the culmination of all these things there is a deliberate adding to God’s Word. This is the natural course of idolatry. When I am my own god, I now make the rules. This normally begins with adding to God’s Law and ends with subtracting from God’s Law. If I am my own god, not only can I make the rules, I can break the rules.