All temptations in life begin in sugared form’.
So wrote the great 20th century German preacher, Helmut Thielicke. He was writing about the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis chapter 3). There is much in the story that is baffling, such as a talking serpent, and the idea of God walking in the garden. Yet it is a story which contain key lessons about how temptation works and how evil spreads.
God, says the writer of Genesis, had ordered Adam and Eve not to eat of a particular tree in the beautiful garden; but the serpent comes along, casting doubt on the seriousness with which God had stated his command. Beginning to think that God is not serious, Eve takes a good look at the tree in question, and sees much that attracts her. The record in Genesis reads: ‘When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it’(Genesis 3;6). Had the tree be unappealing, there would have been temptation. Hence Thielicke’s comment, ‘All temptations in life begin in sugared form’.
Always there is something attractive, pleasant and enjoyable presented to us when temptations comes.
The bitter fruits of shame, guilt and regret are hidden.
Eve did not know that her disobedience would bring shame upon her and Adam, and exile from the delightful garden.
The novel ‘Crime and Punishment ‘ by the Russian writer, Dostoyevsky, concerns an impoverished student, Rashkolnikov. He feels himself above the law, free to do as he pleases.
He plans to flaunt his superiority by murdering an old money-lender. He visits her apartment, and administers a crushing blow with an axe.
When the woman’s sister appears and sees what has happened, he feels compelled to murder her also.
But the experience did not provide the sense of confidence and invulnerability he imagined. Instead, he is wracked with guilt.
As the author put it, ‘He realised that there was no one in the whole wide world he could effectively meet at this moment face to face’.
Reflecting in what he had done, the student asked himself, ‘Did I kill the old hag?’ and concluded, “No, not the old hag. I killed myself. I went there, and all at once, I did away with myself for ever”.
Beware the sugar-coated temptation.