The Cycle of Temptation

When Eve succumbed to the craftiness of the serpent, she gave in to all three major categories of temptation, as described in 1 John 2:16.

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.

Three Major Categories of Temptation

  • Desire of the flesh (she “saw that the tree was good for food). Sin is most often a distorted appeal to one of our natural appetites.
  • Desire of the eyes (“it was a delight to the eyes”). Our sinful heart (the source of temptation) takes advantage of what comes into the eye gate, either intentionally or accidentally.
  • Pride of life (“to be desired to make one wise”). Temptation appeals to our natural desire for autonomy.

Having given in to the desires of her flesh, it was now very easy for Eve to rationalize her actions. And Adam gladly followed. By doing so, he not only sinned against God. But He also sinned against his wife by passively standing on the sidelines, failing to be the spiritual leader Eve needed him to be.

When Satan successfully draws us away from the authority of the Word, and tricks us into thinking God is not good, the stage is set for him to coordinate his deception with the desires of our own sinful heart.

  • The desire of the flesh typically appeals to one of our natural, and good, appetites. What God created for good, sin has corrupted and used for evil.
  • The desire of the eyes takes over when sin becomes more attractive than the Lord, and obedience to Him.
  • The pride of life takes hold when, having been convinced God is holding out some good from us (being too strict), we say, “I want it. I deserve it. I’m gonna take it.”

And that is just what Adam and Eve did and then blamed God for it. They satisfied their fleshly appetites. But at a very high price. Immediately, they felt the drastic consequences of their rebellion.

What About You?

How do you see the cycle of temptation working in your own heart and life? Do you sometimes justify your sin by blaming God? Remember the warning from the New Testament:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one [God tests our faith, but He never tempts us to sin]. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire [Temptation begins at the level of desire, within our sinful hearts]. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. Do not be deceived… (James 1:13-16).

[Adapted from the sermon, The Beginning of the End. Search on that sermon title here.]

RECOMMENDED READING: Good News About Satan: A Gospel Look at Spiritual Warfare

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