I believe the temptation of Man in the garden was three-fold, and based on 1st John 2:15-16 NKJV
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 lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world.”
In Genesis 3:1-6 NKJV we are told the following;
1″Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden;
3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
The lust of the flesh,
Lust of the eyes and
The pride of life.
These three systems of the world are specially designed by the devil to cripple any likeness of God on earth and the devil always uses it each time he wants to battle the image of God on earth as we would soon see.
What we see above is a temptation based on the lust of the flesh, it was an appeal to man’s appetite. It is symbolic of the temptation of every craving and desire we have in our flesh as humans. Whether it is food or sex or even sympathy – all are lust [i.e. desires] of the flesh.
When we get to verse 4, we see the temptation begins to tug on the other two strings of man – the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.
Notice the emboldened words – eat and touch, they speak of our appetite and need for physical contact, whether sexual or empathic. So, it’s safe to say that they are not bad; it is the price we pay to obtain them that corrupts and deprives us of our heavenly inheritance.
The bold words [“saw” and “pleasant to the eyes”] highlight the lust of the eyes for us. Status symbols and things we want for prestige reasons. That’s why one man wants houses in every city, and another wants more clothes than he can wear in a lifetime.
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.
Notice those emboldened words and the italicized words in the above verses.
As for the italicized words – “to be like God, knowing good and evil” and “to make one wise” – they speak of the pride of life. This is vain glory. It is a counterfeit of the glory of God that is supposed to be in Man. Pride of life includes our achievements, our callings and assignments in life, our life’s mission and purpose.
Remember I said these three temptations are a product of the three systems of the world. And I also said they are specifically designed for one purpose – the destruction of any representation of God an earth. Here is what I mean;
These three temptations represent the gateways into the hidden identity of man – which is the image and likeness of God.
Remember, man was made in the image and likeness of God.
Whether it is food or sex [lust of the flesh], or if its material possession and visual entertainment [lust of the eyes] or having achievements, reaching goals and executing life’s missions, [the pride of life] all are good. These things are not bad in themselves, but when they begin to eclipse God and our divine inheritance, it then becomes of the devil. That’s why the question the devil asked Adam and Eve was about their identity.
First the devil asked;
Has God said you shall not eat of this fruit?
Then when he got the answer he was looking for, he went for the jugular and said – if you eat of the forbidden tree, you shall not surely die, but rather you will “become like God“. Lust of the flesh defiles the body, lust of the eyes invades the soul, but pride of life corrupts the spirit. Once our spirit soul and body are corrupted and changed from what God initially intended then we have lost our identity as the image and likeness of God. That lie only worked because Adam and Eve forgot their identity. They forgot that they were already in the image and likeness of God. They did not need to eat any fruit to be like God.
The temptation of the devil was a strategy to destroy man’s identity and thus attempt to remove any representation or likeness of God from the earth and he succeeded with Adam and Eve…
…until the Lord Jesus Christ came.
The devil tried the same thing with Jesus. He questioned the Lord’s identity – if you are the son of God, do this or that.
And notice he employed the same strategy – he attempted to penetrate the three gateways of Son of Man’s identity [his spirit soul and body] – by tempting the Lord with the lust of the flesh – when he asked Him to turn stone to bread to quell His hunger. And by lust of the eyes when he showed Him the kingdoms of this world. And by pride of life when he asked Him to jump of the pinnacle of the temple for all to see and marvel at vain glory.
The real battle is one of identity. That’s why Jesus said;
“… the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Luke 19:10 NKJV
Notice the Lord did not say He came to seek and save he who was lost or they who were lost but rather that which was lost. What was lost? It wasn’t just Man that was lost but Man’s identity. Yes, Man was lost, but for the devil, destroying man was just a means to an end. The main goal of the devil in destroying man was to destroy man’s identity.
Where can we discover our identity? It is in the word of God. That which the apostle James calls the perfect law of liberty. I believe this is very instructive for us. A lost soul is not as tragic as THE Lost Identity. If we know who we are in Christ, we will not fall for the temptations that are in the world.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the word, this one will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:23-25 NKJV
This is the reason Jesus combats every temptation of the devil with *it is written*. We need to learn to do the same. It is beyond a recital. It has to do with conformity and transformation by the word. If we don’t know what the word of God says concerning us, we will not know who we are.
Be courageous and know this –
“Glorious things are spoken of you, O city of God! Selah”
Psalms 87:3 NKJV
I hope this blesses someone. Amen and Amen.