I recently realized that there is a direct relationship between my view of God's character, or having an "elevated concept of God," as a former pastor of mine used to say, and my ability to obey Him and say "No" to sin when it beckons me to follow its tempting call.
The very first temptation in the Bible occurred when, Satan, posing as a serpent, questioned the trustworthiness of God in his conversation with Eve. He put enough doubt in Eve's mind about the Heavenly Father's goodness and fairness that she made the WRONG choice.
During Jesus' ministry He told a parable about three servants who were each given "talents" to use while He was away by their master, who represents the Heavenly Father. When the master returned, He found that the first two servants had faithfully invested their talents and they had more to present to Him. They were rewarded extravagantly for their faithfulness. But the third servant buried his one talent because he had falsely concluded that his master was a "hard (stingy) man." His end was tragic. Again, it was the Heavenly Father's character that was distorted in the third servant's mind that led him to make the WRONG choice.
So it seems safe to say that the temptation to do wrong comes from a faulty view of God the Father, the very One the Son came to reveal to us. Examine the following examples of sinful responses and the corresponding faulty images of God:
- Lust, (He hasn't provided for me fully, He is holding back His best from me);
- Covetousness, (He is stingy, He is taking care of others better than me);
- Greed (He is not adequately providing my needs);
- Revenge (He cannot be depended upon to bring about justice, I need to take matters in my own hands);
- Pride (There is no reward in humility from the Father, the best things in life are given to the proud and arrogant)...
And on it goes. You get the picture. Our obedience, our ability to overcome evil, comes down simply to how we perceive the character of the Heavenly Father.
The only One who was able to overcome temptation every single time He was tempted was the One who knew the Father best, Jesus, His very own Son. The cross on Calvary tested this Son's trust in the Heavenly Father's sovereign love for Him to its very limit as Jesus cried out in agony, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" But thankfully for every one of us who have put our trust in Him for our salvation, we know He passed the test!
As a Christ-following father, the greatest thing I can do for my children is to give to them as clear a picture, though imperfect and inevitably distorted, picture of the Heavenly Father God. As I choose to trust in the Heavenly Father's faithful character in my own life, by choosing to love Him by obeying Him, I make it easier for my children to overcome temptation when temptation comes their way. As Jesus cried to His Father, "For their sake I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."
Dad, are you continually elevating your concept of the Heavenly Father God by persevering in your reading and obeying His word? Whether they realize it or not, your children need you to do that. Someday they will thank you for it.