The temptation in the wilderness…of Jesus…regarding the attractive appeal of the kingdoms of this world, and the power and glory of them (Lk. 4:5-8)…as the sole conventionally recognized and popularly understood means to solve the problems of this world…should not be automatically disqualified…as not being commendable and admirable…just because it comes out of the mouth of Satan.
The cleverest and most appealing of the destructive temptations by Satan contain a kernel of partial truth…being half-truths that have some measure of positive value…their destructive nature being in that they rob the intended target of realizing the full benefit of the half-truth being deceitfully offered…having a final, hidden outcome that intentionally and knowingly falls far short of the misleading promise conveyed…like unknowingly accepting a one-hundred dollar bill from a counterfeiter…only to find out later at the grocery store that it is worthless.
The precisely targeted temptations by Satan in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:1-5)…of Jesus in the wilderness (Lk. 4:1-15)…and now being put forward in this present time…attempt to get people to lower their sights to aim for things below their created potential…to aim for lower goals that miss the mark of people’s divinely intended destinies.
If human beings are created with the privileged capacity to be able to have a personal relationship with our Creator God…to know Him from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:34)…then one of the most misguided tragedies in this life would be to become side-tracked by alternative goals that distract, frustrate, and dilute the fully realized human life-script…of enjoying a walk with God through life…that actualizes into reality this intimate personal relationship with God.
The destructive intentions deceptively hidden within the temptations by Satan…are masked within the details of choices and suggested courses of action…that have the outward appearance at first glance…of being reasonably beneficial and sensible.
By taking these classic temptations apart piece-by-piece…”sunlight being the best disinfectant”…what is revealed is the real truth about God (Jn. 10:10).
For example, the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden that: “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5)…hopelessly falls short of its implied benefit…misleadingly falls short of the whole story…because simply knowing about good and evil alone…without the dual accompanying divine capacities of timeless foresight and absolute perfect character…leads to the despair of failure…leads to the frustration of not be able to fully achieve consistent success…of not being able to produce and maintain the trouble-free life of secure happiness…elevated safely above the vulnerable zone of being corruptible and mistake-prone.
In a nutshell, this is an accurate description of flawed human nature. In essence, this is a fundamental explanation for the imperfect record of human history.
Our modern culture denigrates the story of the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as a human invented, literary myth…but the highly sophisticated theme here is so far above and outside of the boundaries of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…differentiating the deeply profound concepts of self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty in the course and direction of human life-scripts…that to lightly dismiss this Garden of Eden temptation story as having a human imaginative origin…in my opinion is being naïvely uncritical and short-sighted.
No human literary writer…at the time of the writing of the book of Genesis…or in modern times today…could or would get within ten miles of this story…could or would invent this account of the downward fall of mankind in freely choosing to go our own way…independently going about our own lives being the foundational keystone of humanistic self-sovereignty…the diametric opposite of following the counsel and input of God our Creator within a walk of faith.
Obtaining the knowledge of good and evil alone…on the cheap in the Garden of Eden by merely eating a particular fruit from a tree…is like someone giving us an automobile for free that has no motor. It may be beautiful on the outside…but it is not functional in terms of getting anywhere.
That “knowing good and evil” alone would be a positive thing for mankind…is a classic example of being a half-truth…having an end-point outcome that does not fully deliver as advertised.
The only way that “knowing good and evil” successfully operates for autonomous human beings…walking within our own self-composed life-scripts apart from God…is if we also innately possess the timeless foresight to see into the future to make correct decisions ahead-of-time…and possess the absolute perfect character to always without exception choose the right course of action for the optimum benefit to ourselves and to other people
Without timeless foresight and absolute goodness…”knowing good and evil” becomes a Catch-22 dilemma of only being able to recognize, appreciate, and second-guess our past bad choices and mistakes…in hindsight…after-the-fact in the reactive, cleanup mode.
Not having the benefit in-the-moment…of being able to see ahead into the future the final outcomes of our decisions, choices, and actions now in the present time…and not being able to divinely separate and parse the subtleties of good from evil…at the proactive, preventive, and trouble-free level of perfect character…is a reality of human life.
But acquiring the knowledge of good and evil alone…as non-divine human beings…does indeed work extremely well…if this deficiency in our nature is repaired by the addition of a personal connection with our Creator God…who does possess the divine attributes of timeless foresight and absolute perfect goodness…a reality that is brilliantly patterned for us in the life-scripts of the worldly unconventional, biblical narrative stories of faith.
The tempting appeal of independently acquiring for ourselves one of the legs of the three-legged stool required as a first-start to becoming “as gods”…the three legs of the stool being at a minimum the knowledge of good and evil, timeless foresight, and perfect character…this hasty and rash decision by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to accept the proposal made by Satan speaking to them in beguiling words through the spiritual apparition/holography of a beautiful serpent (2 Cor. 11:14)…carries with it the unimaginably destructive, hidden by-product of going our own way (Isa. 53:6)…of departing on our own from the clear command of God not to eat the fruit from this particular tree…thereby separating Adam and Eve from the vital personal connection to God that they and we need…the connection to fill-in the missing input of divine foresight and absolute goodness into the equation of life…that they still lacked after acquiring this knowledge of good and evil.
A thoughtfully questioning and worldly-savvy Adam and Eve might have more wisely answered back to the serpent: “What you say sounds good and appealing on the surface…but there is no rush…we will first discuss this with God, think about it, and then get back to you in a few days. Also, we know God just well-enough now to trust His judgment…and will ask God to elaborate further on why He told us not to eat this fruit…and why someone would be suggesting we do otherwise…as if there might be another alternate reality we are missing-out on in this Garden of Eden…that is independent of and contrary to the council of God…before making our decision regarding this new option you present.”
The absence of all of the information needed to make a thoughtful decision…of not having the whole picture…identifies this temptation in the Garden of Eden as having such a malicious and destructive intention…that its subtlety of being masked within a half-truth containing some limited measure of appealing value…enables us in hindsight to be able to categorize this temptation by Satan as being an injuriously deceptive evil…on a monumental scale as demonstrated every day in the front pages of newspapers around the world…of people having a knowledge of good and evil but being incapable…as less-than-divine gods…not possessing all of the tools needed…to divinely control life-events consistently towards favorable outcomes.