Last night I had a craving for my favorite snack. For the past three years, this snack has been a no-no because I’m to watch my sodium intake, but last night I gave in. I bought some cheese twists, had a few and satisfied the craving, but I didn’t stop. In no time, my stomach felt awful and I knew I should have resisted. I may not eat this salty junk food again for another three years.
I’m noticing that sin is like that. It begins with wanting something. It might be a good thing, like the physical need for food or the emotional need for appreciation. If not taken care of in legitimate ways, the want can become a craving and the craving begins to overwhelm. It then becomes an opening where Satan can stick his foot in the door and tempt God’s people to fulfill their needs in illegitimate ways.
Last night, the liar suggested that ‘just a little’ will fix that hunger, but instead of fixing it, the desire increased. I began thinking just one more cheese twist will give a fuller satisfaction than the last one. Eventually, I was left with the unpleasant aftermath of knowing I should not have started the snack, never mind over-indulged.
In the temptation of Christ, Jesus said NO to food for many days and must have been incredibly hungry. The hunger was not a sin. Eating was not a sin. Jesus even had power to create bread from stones, which was Satan’s suggestion of how to meet that need. My devotional booklet says this would have been sin because it was an illegitimate use of power.
I’m thinking that the sin would also be in using an illegitimate source to meet a perfectly legitimate need. Jesus answered, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4) From that, I understand that God has a way to meet my needs. I’m to trust Him, not take matters into my own hands.
However, any unmet legitimate need (whether physical or emotional), is a wilderness place. Waiting for God to take care of it can feel like being dropped into a bottomless pit. As the sense of need becomes stronger to the point of feeling totally empty, famished, and unable to go on (this is not about cheese twists), Satan’s suggestions to fulfill it in a sinful way become more appealing. It would be easier to say YES and yield to the temptation than suffer such starvation.
Matthew 4:2 says Jesus was tempted ‘after’ He fasted forty days and nights because that was when He became hungry. I would have been hungry the very first day, and maybe tried to tell myself that I was fine. But Jesus did not deny the fact of His hunger. He just said NO to Satan’s suggestion that He do the wrong thing to satisfy it.
Sometimes my legitimate desires increase the more that I deny the illegitimate temptations to take care of them. Then the cravings begin to feel as if Satan is clawing at me, telling me “You will die if you don’t fix this.” I understand why so many people wind up giving in, why I give in. I cannot wait for God’s supply. The pressure increases and I am convinced (by the liar) that I must fix this myself.
However, stones turned into bread are still stones. They do not satisfy. They do not taste good. They even break my teeth and wind up sitting like lumps in my gut.