ORIGINAL TEMPTATION

BY:  JOHN R. GAVAZZONI

2015

 

I think most of the readers of this article are at least somewhat familiar with the theological concept known as "Original Sin." While I'm not, at the time of this writing, disposed to do all the research into the many variations of this doctrine as found in Roman Catholicism and in mainline churches dating to the Reformation, suffice it to say that generally the doctrine declares that by (dis)virtue of Adam's original sin, all mankind has been made to share in the consequence of his disobedience, even before the individual has, himself, acted in any way in reaction or response to God.

 

Under its general heading, the idea has been pushed to such an extreme as to insist that from birth, and by virtue of being sequentially born of Adam, even a little baby, fresh from mother's womb, stands condemned before God, looked upon by God with only the most vehement disfavor, reckoned by Him as deserving the full out-pouring of divine, retributive and retaliatory wrath, God's love being withheld from the child awaiting only the possibility that God might have reason to change His mind.

 

While the idea of original sin has had more than enough treatment by theologians, teachers, and preachers, by comparison, very little has been said about original temptation. It was, after all, original temptation that resulted in that original sin. It would seem important to understand just how the serpent seduced Eve, with Adam choosing to join her in her disobedience. (Interestingly, it was only by Adam's disobedience that sin entered into the world, but we won't pursue that subject in this article.) Just what was the nature of that seduction? What was the serpent's method of operation? How was it that Eve was "drawn away of (her) own lust and enticed"?

 

Having had considerable experience as a salesman for much of my adult life, I can easily recognize a "pitch" that leads to that crisis moment of "closing the sale." I see it clearly in the serpent's approach to Eve. In his initial question, "Yea, hath God said thou shalt not eat of every tree of the garden?" his intonation and rhetorical mannerism suggests to Eve that he'd be surprised to find out that God's command would be anything otherwise, for he is familiar with how God operates, and what God is leading up to.

 

He draws Eve out. He gets her to put into words a growing feeling in her heart. She answers, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, ye shall not eat of, neither shall ye touch it lest ye die." Ahh! There it is. He's drawn Eve out. She makes a Freudian slip. God had simply told them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He didn't say anything about not touching it. What does that little addition on Eve's part to the word of God reveal? It reveals a growing feeling of resentment. ("Hmm, not only aren't we allowed to eat the fruit, we're not even allowed to touch it, even though it's good for food, pleasant to look at, and desirous to make one wise") People who resent the command of a superior, always tend to restate, especially an order of prohibition, in a way that makes it sound extreme and unfair.

 

The serpent has his hook in Eve by this time. Having drawn out her resentment toward the Lord's prohibition, he now goes on in a way that suggests he's on God's side, and knows that the prohibition is not about denying Eve any pleasure, it's about getting her to act like God would act -- with sovereign independence, and with that, be assured that "(she) shall surely not die." Why, if Eve would not do what God told her not to do, that wouldn't be godlike at all. That would simply be carrying out someone else's will. She sees it suddenly; she understands that God is setting her up to be godlike so as to act according to her own godlike independence and sovereignty. Whew! The serpent is indeed more subtle (crafty) than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

 

So what are we to come away with from this analysis of original temptation? Look out for that line of thought that would lead you to conclude God is leading you to, and expecting from you -- in some sense, and by some definition -- to reach down into yourself to do that thing that God is dependent upon you to do. Look out for the idea that, at some point, God backs off hoping that you'll make the decision to become like God. Look out for that powerful suggestion to take aim, and shoot for the target, for sin is missing the mark. The only way you can miss the mark, is by aiming to hit it. After all, if you set out to hit other than the mark, you wouldn't be missing the mark, you'd be hitting what you intended to hit.

 

"Sin is the transgression of the law," and "sin is not reckoned where there is no law." The law always puts before you the goal of hitting the mark. You pick up your bow, slip an arrow in, draw, release, and SIN. YOU always miss the mark, because you're TRYING to hit it. Hitting the mark has nothing to do with trying to do so. Trying belongs to the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Only Christ in you, always hits the mark, and He never tries to. He just does it, by the Father who lives in Him. Now you have Him and the Father indwelling you, and by Them, you will hit the mark, because YOU are God's mark.

 

You are the bulls-eye of God's aim, His never-failing aim. It goes together, i.e., being the mark of God's aim, and He, in you, hitting God's mark. We hit the mark as those who are God's mark. The mark is truly being who we are in Christ, in whose hands all the pleasure of God shall prosper. Watch out for that anxiety that the sales pitch of the serpent leads to.

 

In closing, isn't it noteworthy, that the record of Eve's deception has her referring to "the tree in the midst of the garden," -- only one of the two trees in the midst of the garden? What is it about the tree of life that has not caught and kept her attention? Why was it not a factor for her consideration as she faced that original temptation? I think it was because the tree of life and its fruit, by comparison to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were repulsive to look at, just the opposite of "good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and desirous to make one wise." I think she turned her back on that tree in her mind, because there was something about that tree that was ominous. I think she saw something about that tree and its fruit that pointed to the coming day when "the shadow of a cross arose upon a lonely hill." When she looked at it, she felt a cold chill that frightened her. She feared an ominous unknown. This is present in all temptation. In some way or another, it's always fear of the cross, it's our natural revulsion to the cross, and it opens us to the allure of the serpent.

 

YET, as it turns out, that's how God planned it. Magnificent success through failure. Finally hitting the mark with absolute perfection through missing it with such humiliating failure, and that by being so humiliatingly duped.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ORIGINAL TEMPTATION [John R. Gavazzoni] 2015          2

Pin It on Pinterest