Abraham and Sarah sought to have a child through their maid Hagar because of anxiety about God’s promise regarding their offspring. They were old and losing hope of child bearing. Hagar conceived but tried to use the pregnancy to disrupt their relationship. They resisted her successfully, choosing their union over the possibility that the child of Hagar might be the key to their promised offspring expansion.
God promised Abraham and Sarah a great expansion of their offspring and blessing for them and all humanity through their offspring. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Husband-Wife Leadership from Abraham-Sarah, God spoke to Abraham alone but the promise was for Abraham-Sarah union. They were anxious about the promise because they did not have a child and were old and losing hope of child bearing. They explored the possibility of having a child through Sarah’s maid, Hagar, in accordance with their custom. Abraham impregnated Hagar as permitted under agreement with Sarah.
Hagar was to remain subservient to Sarah and bear the child for her according to their custom. But she displayed a different aspiration as she sought to displace Sarah from her husband’s love. However, Abraham and Sarah valued their union more than the possibility that Hagar was carrying the child of their promise. They resisted Hagar and sought to impose Sarah’s authority over her. But Hagar would not submit. She instead fled from the household.
The attempt to have a child through Hagar was a temptation that potentially could have disrupted the Abraham-Sarah union and maybe fulfillment of God’s promise to the union. They overcame the temptation because of their belief in the supremacy of their union. In this bible study, we discuss: (1) their initial succumb to the temptation because of anxiety to receive fulfillment of God’s promise; (2) their recovery to overcome the temptation because nothing mattered enough to them to disrupt their relationship; and (3) aspects of their history to understand they built their marital bond through longevity of several decades of respecting, honoring, and caring for each other.
Banking Blessings Ministry welcomes you to 2018. Thank you for participating in our programs as we seek and share understanding of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships. We thank God for the opportunity to understand his message more and better this year and steer closer to his purpose for each of us individually and as member of a community.
The year 2017 ended while we were in the middle of a series on Responding to Adversity, focused on studying events and personalities in the bible to gain insight into the nature and meaning of adversity and what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The series has taken us through examinations of the experience of Job, Mordecai, Shunammite woman, and midway through Paul’s ordeal in Jerusalem and Caesarea.
The experience of Job indicates that recognizing adversity as an attack from the devil is an important step in seeking God’s guidance and direction and ultimately defeating the adversity and the temptation that it represents. If a person lives in the image of God, representing God among other people and fulfilling his/her responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, then an adversity in the person’s life is more likely a temptation instead of punishment for wrongdoing. We learn from Job’s experience that the appropriate response is to declare war against the devil by renewing your commitment to worship and serve God.
We begin a bible study series on Responding to Adversity, with intention to study events and personalities described in the bible to gain insight into what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The current study examines the temptation of Job to expand understanding of the nature of adversity. Job was an upright, blameless, and successful man: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” [Job 1:1]. Yet, he suddenly came under a storm of adversity that included losing his children and every earthly possession.
Job’s experience indicates adversity may befall anyone, even a person that has done nothing wrong. His adversity was a temptation whereby the devil attempted to pull him away from God by destroying his earthly comfort and happiness: “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face” [Job 1:11]. God permitted the devil to tempt Job within a wide but limited scope: “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” [Job 1:12]. Therefore, we learn from this account that God protects us from temptation but may permit the devil to tempt a person. The devil may in that case choose how to tempt the person. He chose to rain adversity on Job in the study example.
Recognizing adversity as temptation will affect how a person responds. Because Job was upright and blameless, he most likely recognized the adversity as temptation and, thus responded by focusing on his relationship with God and leaving it all with him in prayer [Job 1:21]: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Also, we have encountered previous studies that showed adversity as a springboard to launch a person onto another phase of life with opportunities of great significance. Notable examples include the experience of Joseph in Joseph Called to Mission and Ruth in Ruth Joins Naomi, among several others. There also are cases of adversity befalling a person as punishment for wrongdoing: a possible example being the revolt in David’s family during his reign as king of Israel in Absalom Rises Against His Father David.
This study focuses on the experience of Job to learn that adversity may befall a person as temptation at pulling the person away from God. Recognizing the adversity as such will help fortify the person to respond by relying more on his/her relationship with God. A person that lives in the image of God (e.g., Job’s reputation as upright and blameless) will more likely recognize an adversity as temptation, instead of punishment for some wrongdoing. Thus, he/she will be better prepared to respond positively.
RECOGNIZE AVOID AND REJECT TEMPTATION The temptations of Jesus help us understand aspects of a person’s life the devil may target and how it may disguise itself to operate on the targets. We discuss reducing temptation in our lives through prayer, recognizing and rejecting temptation through its attributes and potential disguise, and evaluating potential actions and events based on whether they will fit into or work against our general purpose of living in the image of God.
Nature of Temptation
How to Recognize Avoid and Reject Temptation
Temptation persists among us as the devil tries to pull each person away from living according to God’s purpose. As we discussed in several previous studies (e.g. Keeping Watch by Living in the Image of God), God creates every person to live in his image, i.e., represent him in every human interaction as his provider assistant and conveyor of his image. Representing him means your actions and words radiate Godliness and provide opportunities for other people to feel God. Furthermore, you fulfill your responsibilities as God’s provider assistant by willingly and gracefully providing service to benefit others when God places a need in your path. Also, you receive service provided by others with heart-felt appreciation and happiness. This type of behavior pleases God and draws a person closer to God’s purpose. The devil wants to pull each person away from God’s purpose and devises schemes to lure people into committing sin by behaving in a manner that is opposite to living in the image of God.
Apostle Peter warns about the devil: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” [1 Peter 5:8]. He devours a person by luring them into sin, away from living in the image of God. Our first line of defense against temptation is to pray as Christ taught: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” [Matthew 6:13]. Although we know the devil’s objective is to lure us away from living in the image of God and will readily reject such objective when recognized, the devil succeeds a lot of times because of its disguise and stealth. Therefore, we need to reduce its access to our lives and understand its methods in order to recognize and reject its attempts when it does enter.
In this bible study, we discuss the nature of temptation based on a study of the temptations of Jesus. His temptations help us understand aspects of a person’s life the devil may target and how it may disguise itself to operate on the targets. We seek to understand reducing temptation in our lives through prayer, recognizing and rejecting temptation through its attributes and potential disguise, and evaluating potential actions and events based on whether they will fit into or work against our general purpose of living in the image of God.
We discuss Christ’s teaching on sin, repentance, and forgiveness. He admonishes us to refrain from causing others to sin and to forgive people that sin against us. He talked about sin in terms of things a person may do against other persons, thereby defining principles applicable to dispute resolution.
The teaching focused on individual responsibilities in avoiding sin, seeking forgiveness of a sin committed against another person, and accepting repentance and forgiving a person that has sinned against them [Luke 17:1–4]. The responsibilities include rebuking a person for committing sin against another person and forgiving them if they repent, irrespective of the frequency of occurrence. In this study, we discuss the meaning of causing others to sin (being a channel for temptation to others), rebuking a person that sins against another, seeking forgiveness, and forgiving others. Christ emphasized repentance as necessary for forgiveness. We recall a previous study on the life of Joseph (eleventh son of Jacob) that illustrates the benefits of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.