[Willow Creek Association] 1998-09-23 - A Deadly Pattern

Genesis 3:1-6 (NLT) Now the serpent was the shrewdest of all the creatures the LORD God had made. "Really?" he asked the woman. "Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?" 2 "Of course we may eat it," the woman told him. 3 "It's only the fruit from the tree at the center of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God says we must not eat it or even touch it, or we will die." 4 "You won't die!" the serpent hissed. 5 "God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything, both good and evil." 6 The woman was convinced. The fruit looked so fresh and delicious, and it would make her so wise! So she ate some of the fruit. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her. Then he ate it, too.

I have gotten caught up in this President Clinton matter for the past several weeks, not from a political standpoint, but rather a view from a human behavior angle. It is rare, (thank goodness), that we are able to look inside another person's life and see a sin unfolding. My looking into President Clinton's action is to learn from his mistakes, but the more I look, the more I see me and the more I see all of us.

None of us can outsmart the Evil One. He has been around much longer, seen it all, done it all and has perfected ways to lead each of us into sin. Of course, we do have power over the Evil One, through Jesus Christ. The Evil One uses the same tactics over and over. Let's look at them and then try to see what we can do to lessen their impact in our lives.

Here is the pattern:

  1. Doubt
  2. Deception
  3. Desire
  4. Decision
  5. Death

Notice the Evil One casting a doubt to Eve in verse one, this doubt causes Eve to take a little away from God's Word and to add a little. Notice how her answer differs from the warning God gave back in Chapter 2.

Genesis 2:16-17 But the LORD God gave him this warning: "You may freely eat any fruit in the garden 17 except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die."

She leaves out the good part, God saying you can "freely" eat and then she adds that they must not even touch the tree. The Evil One then delivers the deception. "You will not die." He knew full well that Eve would die both spiritually and physically if she ate the fruit. He is the Father of Lies. It does not bother him to lie. He thrives on lies.

Now Eve passes from doubt and deception and enters the next phase, desire. It's hard to turn back once we reach the desire stage. Eve now must make the decision, do I turn back from the fruit or do I give in to the temptation? You can substitute any temptation with the fruit. The key to winning victories over temptations is to do all you can do to avoid the desire stage. I will come back to this in a few paragraphs. Hang in here with me.

Once the decision is made to give into the temptation, then the sin is born and the sin result's spiritual death or simply separation from God.

Genesis 3:9 The LORD God called to Adam, "Where are you?"

Ever notice when you are mired in the muck of some sin, or struggling with not repeating the same sins over and over, that you just want to be apart from God. You don't want to read your Bible because it will tell you what God wants and it is the opposite of what Satan wants to give us. You don't want to pray for fear of hearing God's quiet voice telling you the truth about your decisions and choices. I certainly don't want to be around a bunch of Christians either, one may be Biblical enough to tell me my choices are leading to sins.

So, what do we do? Well, we know the pattern. When you start feeling some doubts about whether your action is right or wrong, that should throw up a red flag. Step back, think about it and pray about it. God is not the author of confusion and doubts; the Evil One is. If we allow the doubts to fester, he has the foothold to deceive us. The simple key folks, is to start early in the process. If you struggle with pornography, stay away from the bookstores and websites. You cannot outwit Satan. Once he creates a doubt in your mind about whether you should go in, or click that link, the bait hooks you and it is doggone hard at that point to break loose. You don't walk into a bar to become an alcoholic, you don't say "I do" so that you can get divorced, you don't do blank to become blank. You fill in the blanks. None of us intend to fall into the traps set before us.

I hear you now "Ok, great David, another practical little tidbit but get real, it's not that simple." I hear you loudly and clearly; it is not simple, but it can work. Keep a notebook or journal with your victories over temptation, big or small. Pretty soon your little victories turn into bigger victories, and though none of us will be perfect until we reach Heaven, hopefully you can see yourself becoming increasingly aware of where the doubts and deceptions are coming from and you can run from them.

Lord, help us to recognize the doubts and deceptions. Give us the strength and wisdom that only YOU can provide. Your power and Your strength always will prevail over the Evil One. Thank you for our victory through Your Son Jesus. In His Name, Amen.