The ultimate temptation

In the final post on Judas, I stated that Satan’s ultimate temptation is to offer us something good that God will eventually give to us anyhow.

This is the ultimate temptation for two reasons. First off, if God is going to give it to us eventually, it’s a good thing. When we see it, we see that it’s good and we want the goodness it will bring to ourselves and to others.

Secondly, if God wants to give it to us, it appeals to our natures. It sings to us and we realize it’s something we should have. We’re naturally attracted to this thing, whatever it may be.

How can something good for us and that God wants to give us become a temptation? Because Satan tells us to take it before we’re ready for it, and before God is ready to give it to us.

God probably would have given Adam and Eve the knowledge of good and evil eventually; Satan urged them to take it for themselves, and then suddenly (as Ivy notes in her Knitspirit podcast) they do have knowledge of evil, but the intimate kind of knowledge that comes from bearing that evil within yourself, of beholding your own darkness and knowing the shadows at your feet were cast by you, and only by you. We took that knowledge for ourselves, and while knowledge in itself is a good thing, what we got was a perverted form of the knowledge God would have given us eventually.

You see this over and over in scripture, in life, in lore. We see something wonderful, and we want it now, and we don’t want to listen when God says “Wait.”

It links back to the idea of spiritual prematurity, how we’re little ones carried by God and not ready for solid food, not able to keep ourselves warm.

The right thing at the wrong time doesn’t fit. The right think taken the wrong way won’t work as smoothly because everything else won’t be in place. It might not be primed to go as far as it would have otherwise.

My mother tells me of a woman she knows who’s a third order Carmelite. Now, if someone has a vocation to the religious life, I would bet the enemy can see it long in advance, and also knows the good that person can do; it’s a huge target to try stopping such a person.

The woman felt a very strong calling to the order when she was a young mom with children. Her husband was fine with her joining, but when she took the time to pray and fully discern, she realized God was telling her “Not yet.” Joining was good, but the time commitment was too much for a mom with young children. She wouldn’t have been able to give the order her fire, her concentration, or the hours it would take to do it well. So she told them no.

Years later, when her children grew up, she joined, and she loves it. She’s great with them. She’s now the leader of her chapter, and she does a wonderful job because she resisted the temptation to do the right thing too early.

Judas: possibly trying to force Jesus’s hand.
Satan: demanding that Jesus show his power now, before his hour had come.
(Contrast with Mary, who pointed out a need and then said, “Do whatever he tells you,” but never demanded a sign and let Jesus decide how much of a sign he should give.)
Eve: seeing the fruit was pleasing to the eye and would taste lovely, ignoring the fact that the only reason it was wrong to take it was that God said not to.
Sarah: As knit_tgz points out in her comment, Sarah tried to get Abraham a child with Hagar rather than waiting for God to provide what He said He would.

And on and on and on.

Good things at the right time. In God’s time. Not before we’re ready. Because like an unripe fruit, it’s just not as sweet and as good for us if we take it for ourselves too soon, and sadly, if we’re really wedded to the temptation of taking it for ourselves, we’ll give ourselves the credit for snatching the good things from God’s hand, and at the same time, we’ll never know the sweetness we missed.


  1. ivyreisner

    The question I would then have is, why didn’t it work? If Judas was effectively saying, “Hey, Papa Smurf, that Superman guy you’re looking for is in the castle on the hill”, knowing Superman could easily: step on, fly away from, blow away, glare and set fire to, or punch into the next galaxy any Smurf that came to threaten him, then why did the plan fail?

    A- Judas was working in accordance with divine will, knowingly or unknowingly.

    B- Loyalty was in some way required for the stated plan to succeed. Some kind of a test and Judas failed it for humanity.

    C- Jesus was bound by Roman law and thus could not, in good honor, fight them.

    D- ???

  2. xdpaul

    Or God is humble and Jesus offered himself to bear the sin of the world.

    My lament is that Judas committed suicide. All the apostles failed Jesus in the final hour, falling asleep against His wishes, denying their relationship with Him, scattering in fear. If Peter could be restored, if Thomas could put his hand in the wound, had Judas lived, could he not have presented himself directly to the risen Lord for judgment?

    Not only did he trade God’s intended good for Satan’s counterfiet “now” but he then compounded it by placing everything upon his own shoulders after the betrayal.

    Wow. I’m so glad that you’ve done this series.

  3. ivyreisner

    That takes the responsibility away from Judas.

    If Jesus offered himself, then Judas’s actions shouldn’t matter anyway.

    If Jesus was in control and this was his plan, then Judas might about as well have gone home and written his memoirs. What would have been, would have been. In this world-view, Judas is a tool of the divine, intentionally or unintentionally. It’s a terribly unfair universe when one is both acting in accordance to divine will and in a state of sin from the exact same action.

    It seems to me that a Christian world-view could never admit the possibility Judas succeeded in betraying Jesus against his will. That would require accepting that Jesus did not have control over the situation, and therefore he didn’t willfully sacrifice himself. He did not act but was acted upon.

    It can’t be both at the same time. He was pulling the strings or he wasn’t.

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