Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
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.
Satan is crafty indeed. He knows that temptation requires more than just a fine piece of fruit that is pleasing to the eyes and good for eating. That's not enough for someone in a relationship with God. Eve had a covenantal relationship with God just as we do. She and Adam would never cross the that covenant line just because the fruit was fine. Their consciences were bound by that covenant.
Satan knows that about them and knows that about us, too. He needs to do one more thing: give each of us a good excuse to ignore our covenant with God. How? For Eve, he made her feel as though he knew more about God's real motives for the covenant. He undermined God's goodness and authority. He attacked God's motives and repositioned them to invalidate the covenant He established to protect Adam and Eve. Satan provides loopholes to our covenant with God, because it's not enough to just present a gorgeous, tasty apple (actually we don't know what type of fruit it was, but because the Latin Vulgate dominated all Bibles for 12 centuries there arouse a play on words because apples and evil are the same Latin word, mala). We are protected so long as we remain in our covenantal relationship with Jesus, and we are free from sin (John 8:31-36).
Satan, then, employs two strategies to bring about a conception between temptation and desire (James 1:15). He presents appealing fruit AND a seemingly valid excuse to taste it. We should fight this on the right front. We can't do much about the former - appealing fruit is appealing fruit (thus we should avoid it - see the next step on Detour Temptation), but we can do a lot about the latter - by exposing his loopholes or excuses for what they are. Here's a great way to do exactly that:
- Review the last time you fell to temptation and sinned against Jesus by indulging in sexual sin
- Normally, we all have a small debate with ourselves before decide to indulge - not too different from the cartoon argument between the little demon and angel whispering into each ear
- Write down the winning argument that opened the door for sin. That is, write down the excuse or loophole that gave you a special pass to transgress the lines of our covenant with Jesus
- Most guys hate thinking, so they fail to thoroughly expose and capture this excuse - don't be mentally lazy! I'll provide some priming for the pump. Common excuses that I've heard in counseling include:
- “I’ve heard that even more mature Christians struggle with it”
- “I’ve been much more righteous lately, so this once won’t be so bad”
- “Since I’ve already thought it, I might as well go ahead and do it.”
- “It’ll be just this one last time”
- “It’s not as bad as actual sex”
- “I’ll be able to stop when I married”
- "I can’t get on with my day until I give in to this temptation”
- “My flesh just couldn’t take it any longer”
- “I don’t have an excuse, I just put everything out of my mind… I don’t think about anything; it’s just mechanical”
- “God understands; he forgives me. There’s grace, so I’ll repent later and be forgiven”
- “Let me get in as much as I can before I come into the light and/or finally repent”
- “It’s OK, because I’m only thinking about my wife (or future wife).”
- Once you've captured the loophole or excuse, bounce it off of a likeminded brother in Christ to be sure that you've been sufficiently thorough
- Ask your brother in Christ to help you show the lies in Satan's excuse by exposing them to the truth of the Gospel. Let the light of the Gospel show the folly of your consideration of this excuse.
- You'll know that you've eliminated this excuse when your internal debate is replaced by godly sorrow (2nd Corinthians 7:8-10) for the wretched indulgence
- Be sure to grab tight onto the Scriptures that eliminate this loophole and bring safely back into covenant with Jesus, for if you "hold to my teachings, then you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
- "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." John 8:36
- Click HERE for a resource of Scriptures that can help expose the Lie of these excuses.