08 April 2011

Question of the Week:
How Long Does Temptation Knock?

Photo credit: Preston Bezant

How long were Adam and Eve in the garden before she took that fatal bite? Was the serpent whispering in her ear a long time?
~ Lori

Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day of creation, and God rested on the seventh day, so the earliest day for the "fatal bite" is day eight. Adam was 130 years old when Seth was born, after the death of Abel, whom we can infer lived to adulthood. So the latest date is about 100 years after creation.

The key question here, which applies to all of us, is how long might temptation knock?

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
~ James 4:7 (NKJV)

Scripture records the temptation of Jesus by the devil. (Luke 4:1-13) After 40 days of temptation (which isn't described), the devil presented three specific temptations. When Jesus responded with absolute rejection to a temptation (using Scripture), that temptation ceased.

Consider that an invitation to sin isn't a true temptation unless it appeals to something already desired (whether the desire is a good or bad one). Temptation offers to fulfill desire in a manner contrary to God's will. Here are three different scenarios of what might be expected.

• Temptation's invitation to fulfill desire in a sinful way is given no consideration and categorically rejected. The door is immediately slammed on this temptation. It has no reason to linger.

• Temptation receives some amount of consideration before it hears "no thanks" and has a door shut on it. Temptation has found its mark and is likely to knock again. One shouldn't expect temptation to stay away before it is rejected on sight without consideration.

• Temptation gets a "yes," either immediately or after repeat visits. Once the door is flung open to temptation's invitation, sin establishes its foothold. The door can't be shut on temptation before sin is driven out. If repeated sin establishes a stronghold in a person's life (sin moves in with all its baggage), it may take a long time to want to drive out sin. Even if sin is kicked out, temptation remembers where its sin was sampled and enjoyed. Expect temptation to come knocking as long as its invitations receive consideration before refusal. A person will need to slam the door hard and slam it immediately on temptation for a long time to come before temptation will believe it's not welcome.

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.
~ Genesis 3:6 (NKJV)

The Bible doesn't say how many days the serpent came knocking and received consideration of its invitation. It's usually depicted as all one incident. Temptation may have come knocking over a long period of time, or been welcomed on the first visit.

But this much is certain: one can never open the door to sin and assume to understand all the consequences to follow.

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What questions do you have about Christianity or the Bible? You're invited to leave them in the comments below (anonymous questions welcome), or email buildingHisbody [plus] @ gmail.com.

© 2011 Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Great food for thought. This reminds me of what my husband and I heard at a marriage class once. Don't ever utter the word divorce. Say that there will be no Plan B. It was a powerful message that stuck with us and I pray stays stuck.
    ~ Wendy

  2. Wendy ~

    I could not agree more heartily. Whether the word is "divorce," or "affair," or some other clear no-no, the tiniest HINT of that temptation must receive the most immediate, unequivocal, catagorical "NO!" that is possible.

  3. I'm tempted to say a few things, but I won't ... Just Kidding :-)

    It is nearly impossible to merely resist a temptation. We must take the temptation, or sin if it has progressed that far, and replace it with something else, or someone else, i.e. Jesus, so that the temptation has nowhere to return to.

    Thanks Anne.

  4. Rusty ~

    What a critical point you've made! The void WILL be filled with something. If we determine that the desire itself is a good one, then we turn from temptation to meet it sinfully toward the right way to fill it. If the desire is a good desire twisted into a bad one, we then set the desire straight again, and then pursue the RIGHT fulfillment of it.

  5. Anne: Thank you for your succinct(sp?) answer to my question, this is my favorite part...."Expect temptation to come knocking as long as its invitations receive consideration before refusal" And I love the comment above about divorce. It is so true, I hear it flying around so many married conversations now when my parents generation never considered it.

  6. Lori ~

    I'm not always able to offer an answer that's an exact fit to the question. If my answer about dates was vague, I'm glad that you appreciated where the post went, and where the comments led. :D