Responding to God with obedience is not instinctive. Rebelling against God is instinctive. When tempted, the person who follows his or her "natural inclination" without consideration, evaluation, or reflective thinking will rebel against God.
The free will of the human can make unselfish decisions that consider the best interests of another person, the family, other Christians, society, or the nation. However, the free will of the human may make selfish decisions that only consider "what I want."
Satan always has known that the human free will can be selfish. The most effective avenue available to temptation exists because the human free will can be selfish.
Consider Eve's first temptation (Genesis 3). Evil did not exist in the realm of human reality. Eve was not in need. All her needs were supplied in ideal circumstances. She was not inadequately fed. She was not deprived. She was not stressed. She was not in pain. She was not struggling with peer pressure. She was not in a state of anxiety.
How could Satan tempt a person living in the perfect situation under ideal circumstances? If Satan could get Eve to focus on herself, he effectively could challenge her to rebel against God. He could challenge her to rebel even though she had every reason to obey and no reason to rebel.
What were her thoughts when she examined the forbidden fruit? Read Genesis 3:1-7. Satan altered her view of God by suggesting that God (a) lied to her, (b) was bluffing, and (c) deliberately deprived her. His deception was successful. Because Eve was deceived, she thought of herself as she examined the fruit. Though she did not want for food, the fruit appeared to be a good food source. Though she was surrounded by beautiful things, the fruit was beautiful. Though she had sufficient knowledge, the fruit offered her the apparent opportunity for wisdom. She used her free will to act selfishly. Her temptation was not need driven. It was driven by self-centeredness.
From that moment on, people used (and use) the human free will to pursue selfish considerations. Temptation successfully deceives us by exploiting our preoccupation with self.
From the beginning, the Bible affirms these truths:
Obedience is learned even when evil does not exist as a part of the human reality. This provides us a powerful, essential insight into Jesus' human existence. We find it too easy to disregard Jesus' example in specific circumstances. "He was different. Because he was God's Son, he was not like us. It was easier for him. It was natural for him to obey God. It is not natural for us to be obedient." Not true. He became obedient in the same way we do--he learned to obey.
Did Jesus want to die? In this matter, was his personal desire in conflict with God's purposes? How did Jesus resolve the conflict? Do you see any visible differences in Jesus when you compare his behavior during this conflict with his behavior after this conflict is resolved? If your answer is yes, state the difference you see.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 1, Lesson 9
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