Just Say "No" to Temptation

Theme: Temptation in the Garden of Eden - 1st Sunday in Lent, Yr. A
Object: A plate of cookies
Scripture: "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." Genesis 3:3-5 (NIV)

Yum, yum... these cookies sure do look good. I am tempted to eat one right now. Temptation -- that's a pretty big word, isn't it? What does it mean? Temptation is something that makes you want to do or have something that you know you should not. Eating a cookie isn't necessarily a sin, but it could be wrong in certain situations. Let me tell you a story that might help us to see how eating a cookie could be wrong.

One day Jason walked into the kitchen just as his mother put the last of a freshly-baked batch of cookies on a platter. "Oh boy! Chocolate chip cookies!" said Jason as he reached for a cookie.

"Put that cookie back!" said Jason's mother. "We will eat dinner soon and snacking will spoil your appetite. You can eat some cookies after dinner."

"Alright," Jason said as he put the cookie back on the platter. "I'm going to go outside and play with Bobby."

Jason and Bobby played for a while and then went inside to get a drink of water. The cookies were still on the kitchen table. "Look," said Bobby, "chocolate chip cookies! Let's eat one."

"My mother told me not to eat any cookies or it would spoil my dinner," said Jason.

"Aw, come on," Bobby pleaded, "one cookie won't spoil your dinner."

"Okay, I guess it wouldn't hurt to eat just one," Jason agreed. Just as they finished their cookie, Jason's sister, Susie, walked into the kitchen. "Mom made some cookies and they are really good. Do you want one?" So they all ate a cookie together.

That night at dinner Jason wasn't very hungry. His mother noticed that he wasn't eating. "You aren't eating your dinner. Is something wrong?" mother asked.

"No, I'm just not very hungry," Jason answered

"You disobeyed me and ate cookies before dinner, didn't you?"

"Yes, but Bobby said that it wouldn't really spoil my appetite and we only ate one... or two" Jason answered sheepishly.

"I am very disappointed," mother said. "Because you have disobeyed me, you can't go anywhere with your friends on Saturday. You will stay at home and help me clean the house."

Does that story sound familiar? It should, because it is very much like the story of Adam and Eve which we find in Genesis, the very first book of the Bible. God gave Adam and Eve a beautiful home in the Garden of Eden. They had all that they needed, but God expected them to follow his rules. He told them that they could eat the fruit from the trees in the garden, "But you must not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. If you eat its fruit, you will die."

Then along came Satan. "You won't die," he told Eve. "God doesn't want you to eat the fruit from that tree because he knows that if you do, you will be as wise as he is, knowing good and evil." So Eve ate the fruit and gave some to Adam. When God asked them if they had eaten from the tree, they began to play the "blame game." Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed Satan, but God still punished them for the wrong that they had done. God made them leave the garden.

Did you know that Satan even tempted Jesus to do things that were wrong? When he did, Jesus answered him with Scripture. That is a good way to defeat Satan, isn't it? Read the Bible and when Satan comes around, just say, "No" to temptation.

Father, we want to be like Jesus. Help us to say, "No" to Satan when he tempts us to do wrong. Amen.

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