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Study to Grow

By Randy Dillon

Part 1 of 2 Parts I John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

***** The Apostle John in this first epistle reflects the three temptations which Adam and Eve succumbed to in the Garden of Eden and which Jesus faced in His confrontation with Satan at the beginning of His ministry. John cites the lust of the flesh and the eyes and the pride of life as things which are not of God. What do these mean? First, notice that the word “lust” is used; lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes. The Greek word for lust is epithumis which means a longing for or a desire, especially for something forbidden. But then John uses the word “pride” to note the things of life. The Greek word for pride is alazineia which means boasting or pride implying a self-confidence or braggadocio. The root of this word, alazon, means boaster or braggart. The lust of the flesh is a term which is associated with the evil desires borne from the inherent sin nature of mortal human beings. It encompasses the sinful rebelliousness of mankind against God and His righteousness and the opposition to all of God’s commands by self-righteous, self-centered , self-dominated humans who desire only the evil desires of their own heart. The lust of the eyes is the means by which Satan encourages and entices sinful behavior. It is through the eyes that Satan creates human desire for the beautiful things of the world, especially those things which feed the self-centered nature of sinful man. The pride of life can be viewed as the self-centered aspect of human nature which is eager to boast of its accomplishments and work rather than giving honor and glory to God for His gracious beneficence. When we consider the fall of Adam and Eve into sin in the Garden of Eden we see the parallels with I John 2:16. Genesis 3:1-7 relates the fall from innocence. First note that Eve was deceived by the serpent who claimed that she would not die but rather be like God to know good and evil. Isn’t this the issue with the lust of the flesh; to be a god oneself and to not need to rely on the true God. Eve may have been deceived as the weaker mortal, but Adam sinned willfully by joining her in taking the fruit. God’s command was disobeyed, thus sin and death entered the world. Next, we see that Satan told Eve that if she ate of the fruit her eyes would be open and she would be like God, knowing good and evil. We may infer from this verse that Eve did not know the difference between good and evil but when she “saw” that the fruit was “good for food” and “pleasant to the eyes” and would “make one wise” she succumbed to temptation. The fruit was not only pleasant to the eye but it was good to eat, that is, it satisfied the need for fleshly sustenance. After Adam also ate “the eyes of both of them were opened” to their nakedness. Again, we observe that the eyes of mankind have become the vehicle for sinful desires based on the beauty of God’s creation and the sinful desire of mankind to accumulate worldly things in direct rebuke of an all-sufficient God. Finally, we find that pride enters Eve as she follows the guidance of the serpent in believing that she won’t die if she eats, but rather she will be like God. This prideful arrogance led her to also give the fruit to Adam. Both are now in a sinful state which they acknowledge by realizing they are naked. Their eyes were now open to good and evil which caused them to cover their bodies with an apron of fig leaves. This was a result of pride which they now understood as they were naked before their creator. Pride also caused them to seek to blame someone else for their willful sin. Eve blamed the serpent, Adam blamed Eve and even God for giving him Eve as a helpmate. Neither wanted to take blame for their own failings. When God asked if they had eaten of the tree, the response of Adam and then Eve in blaming someone else rather than answering the question directly with “yes” show the end result of their pride. Pride: the desire to be more than what you really are. Such a definition certainly fits our first parents and all of mankind since. Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life. These were Adam and Eves failings. They are also ours. (But they are not failings of Jesus as we shall see in Part 2, in about two weeks.)

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