20140318_3 sins

The person who said that “there are only three sins” was likely referring to the verse in 1 John that reveals all sins fall into one of three specific categories:

1 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.

That verse clearly tells us that all sins fall into these three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  This is confirmed when we turn to the account of the fall in Genesis 3; and it’s further confirmed in a review of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness found in Matthew and Luke. 

The Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life in Genesis 3

 Genesis 3:1-5  Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.  And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Satan used deception to tempt Eve with sin when he twisted God’s word into a lie and said,  “Ye shall not surely die, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” 

Without a strong knowledge of God’s Word, we are all prone to confusion.  Eve certainly knew God’s command, but she clearly forgot them when Satan asked the question, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”  Eve responded, misquoting God’s command regarding the tree of which they were not to eat. 

Genesis 3:3  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

 God did not say that they could not touch it.  He clearly told them that they could not eat of it.  We do not know why Eve added to God’s command.  Perhaps she had forgotten God’s words, or perhaps she added her own restriction. How often do we forget God’s words or change them.  This illustrates for us the importance of reading and studying the Bible so that we can know God’s words as He has given them and recall them correctly when we face temptations and trials.

The Word of God is the best defense we have in keeping us from sin.  Reasons for Hope is founded on the verse 1 Peter 3:15 that instructs us to be ready always to give an answer for our hope.  We are to be able to explain why we believe and what we believe.  The answers we give are always to come from what God has said.  1 Peter 3:15 also tells us that by doing so we sanctify (honor) God.  We cannot honor God unless we use words of truth, and absolute truth comes not from our thoughts and words but only from the mind of God as revealed to us in the Bible. 

Genesis 3:6  And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise…

1) The lust of the flesh:  Eve “saw that the tree was good for food.”  

2) The lust of the eyes:  Eve saw that it was “pleasant to the eyes.”  

3) The pride of life:  Eve saw that it was a tree “to be desired” to “make one wise.

Eve succumbed to the temptations before her:  

Genesis 3:6 …she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

The Lust of the Flesh, the Lust of the Eyes, and the Pride of Life in Genesis 4 and Luke 4 

In contrast to Eve’s succumbing to these three sins, we read of the time in the wilderness when Jesus was faced with the same three temptations and did not sin.

Contrast the setting:  Eve was in a garden.  She was created without sin and in perfect communion with God.  Jesus came to earth, setting aside his divinity and taking on humanity.  In Luke 4 we read of Him presenting Himself at John’s baptism in the Jordan.  This was the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry.  When Jesus came up out of the water, the Holy Spirit came upon Him and, as in the days of kings and prophets in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would guide and empower Jesus in the ministry He was now embarking upon.  Immediately following this, Jesus was taken by the Spirit (not into a garden) into the wilderness.   

Eve had plenty to eat in the garden…every tree with the exception of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days and was hungry.  

Contrast the temptation: Just as Satan came to Eve with the intention to tempt her, Satan came to Jesus with the same intentions and the same temptations.

1) The lust of the flesh:   the devil said, “command these stones be made bread.” (Luke 4:3,4 ; Matthew 4:3,4).

2) The lust of the eyes:   the devil showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world.” (Luke 4:5-8; Matthew 4:8-10)

3) The pride of life:  the devil challenged Jesus to “cast thyself down…He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee” (Luke 4:9-12; Matthew 4:5-7)

Contrast the response:  Unlike Eve who responded with an incorrect remembrance of God’s commands, Jesus spoke God’s words exactly as God had given them.  He did not add to or subtract from them and there was no confusion.

1) The lust of the flesh:   the devil said, “command these stones be made bread.” (Luke 4:3,4 ; Matthew 4:3,4).

Luke 4:4  And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

2) The lust of the eyes:   the devil showed Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world.” (Luke 4:5-8; Matthew 4:8-10)

Luke 4:8  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 

3) The pride of life:  the devil challenged Jesus to “cast thyself down…He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee” (Luke 4:9-12; Matthew 4:5-7) 

Luke 4:12  And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 

Lessons to Remember

In comparing and contrasting Genesis 3 with the temptations of Christ (Luke 4, Matthew 4) and in the light of 1 John 2:16, we can easily understand how all sin can be understood to fall into one of these three categories:  

  1. The lust of the flesh 
  2. The lust of the eyes and 
  3. The pride of life

 This can help us to identify sin in our lives, and to recognize temptations that come before us, so that we can avoid sinning.  We are equipped and empowered by God to be able to have victory over sin.  Eve failed to do so, but Jesus did perfectly by the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.  As Christians, we too have the power of the Holy Spirit and we should be diligent in learning and understanding God’s unfailing Word to give us the strength to overcome temptation.  Reading, studying and committing Scripture to memory is a powerful weapon in fighting the temptations that come from the world, the devil and our flesh.   

If you aren’t reading your Bible on a daily basis, begin reading today.  For it is written:

Psalm 119:11  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Hebrews 4:12  For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Ephesians 6:13, 17  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand….and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

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