I John: The Three Faces of Temptation.

15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 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. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (I John 2:15-17)

What is temptation? Puritan John Owen defined temptation as, “anything, a status, a way, or a condition that has a force or efficiency to seduce, or to draw the mind and heart of man from its obedience, which God requires of him, into any sin, in any degree of it, whatsoever.”

What are the three faces of temptation which seek to entice individuals to love the world? The Apostle John identified them as the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes and pride of life. These three categories of temptation offer much that is attractive and appealing. However, in reality they are evil, harmful, ruinous and satanic. It is all which the fallen world has to offer and many unsuspecting souls have succumbed to their enticements.

They should not be unknown to the student of Scripture. These three faces of temptation are conspicuous from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), the life of Joseph (Genesis 38), the life of David (2 Samuel 11-12), and even when Satan tempted the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13). What is their meaning?

The desires of the flesh refers to the sinful nature of man and the satisfaction of his physical and human desires in opposition to God’s will and Word (Romans 7:15-25; 8:1-8; Galatians 5:16-21). One of the most common ways an individual is enticed by the desires of the flesh is through sexual immorality. The current culture is saturated by the theme of wanton physical satisfaction and pleasure, regardless of what God’s Word has to say.

The desires of the eyes refers to what people see. It is an attraction to something which is beautiful in appearance but which results in not only spiritual death for the unbeliever but humiliation and shame for the Christian. Many have stumbled in their obsession of what they see.

The pride of life is the arrogance of man by which he justifies what he wants due to a sense of entitlement. How often do we hear in advertisements that we should purchase an item because we deserve it?

The promise today’s text provides is that the world is not permanent. Rather, it and its desires are passing away. Only the one who desires to do God’s will endures.

All three faces of temptation are not of God but belong to the world. As one commentator explains, The world is the enemy of the Christian because it is in rebellion and opposition against God and controlled by Satan (1 John 5:19Eph. 2:22 Cor. 4:4; 10:3–5). The three openings presented, if allowing access to sin, result in tragedy. Not only must the Christian reject the world for what it is but also for what it does.”

Have you ever given into one of these faces of temptation? More than one? What was the result? I know of many who damaged not only their reputation but also their family by their disregard for the dangers each of faces of temptation represent.

Resolve today to not give into these temptations when they appear in your life. Remember that temptation is not a sin, but becomes sin when the one who is tempted chooses to give in to the temptation.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

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