Today’s selected reading continues in the first epistle of the apostle Paul in the New Testament written unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, the text and passage are found in verses twelve through twenty-one of the sixth chapter. It is absolutely incredible how the apostle Paul opens and begins this second half of the sixth chapter, for he does o making two distinct statements. The apostle Paul first begins by declaring that all things are lawful unto him, yet all things are not expedient for him. The apostle then goes on to make a second declaration where he states that all things are lawful unto him, yet he would not be brought under the power of any. It are these two concepts—the concept that while there might be things which are lawful, and even permissible within our lives, not everything is beneficial, as well as the concept that while there might be things that are lawful and even beneficial in our lives, we are not to be brought under the power of any. One of the single greatest questions I am finding myself asking right now is how many men and women are allowing themselves to be brought into subjection to and under the power of certain things within their lives—even things which are lawful and permissible. One of the greatest challenges we face within our lives is to work diligently to ensure that we are not brought under the power of anything that would keep us I bondage. The apostle Paul spoke of things which were lawful for him in this passage, yet he would go on to state that not everything that was lawful was beneficial unto him, and that he would not be brought under the power of anything.
The question I can’t help but find myself asking is whether or not it is possible to allow ourselves to be brought into bondage by those thugs which are perhaps good—whether good within our own eyes, or even good within the eyes of God. I am finding myself asking whether or not it is possible to allow ourselves to get so caught up and consumed with that which is beneficial unto us that we actually allow ourselves to be brought under the power of such things. BROUGHT UNDER THE POWER OF THAT WHICH IS GOOD! BROUGHT UNDER THE POWER OF THAT WHICH IS BENEFICIAL FOR US! The question I find myself asking is how do we determine that which is beneficial for us within our lives? How do we determine that which is good for us within our lives and for our lives? What is the ultimate authority for that which might be good within our lives? How have determine and how do we determine that which is lawful for us? How do we determine that which is good within our lives? The apostle wrote of that which was lawful for him and that which is lawful for him, but he also spoke of something being beneficial unto him. The more I pause and consider this reality, the more I am convinced that we can indeed and can in fact be brought under the bondage of that which might very well be good within our lives. This is especially true when we allow ourselves to be the authority on what is good within our lives. This is especially true when we allow ourselves to be the authority on that which is right within and for our lives. There is and there has always been a great danger with allowing ourselves to be the ultimate and finally authority on that which is good and right within our lives.
The more I consider this reality the more I can’t help but be reminded of the account of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden which is found in the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis. If you journey into the Old Testament and into the third chapter of this book of beginnings you will quickly discover the tremendous possibility it is to not only allow ourselves to be tempted by that which is good and that which is pleasant, but also by that which is beneficial unto us. The account of the very first man and woman to ever walk upon the earth is confirmation that it is most certainly possible for us to not only to be drawn to, enticed by, and tempted by that which is good, but to actually be brought into bondage by it. I am utterly and completely convinced that it is necessary for us to carefully examine the text that is found within this passage of Scripture, for it is possible that we are drawn to, enticed by, and tempted by that which is good, that which is pleasant, and perhaps even that which to the natural mind may seem beneficial unto us, and yet actually find ourselves giving into a temptation that is both subtle and seductive. Consider if you will the account of Adam and Eve which is found in the third chapter beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life; and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:1-15).
Before you attempt to understand the language and text that is found in the third chapter of the book of Genesis it is first necessary to journey to the previous chapter, and specifically to the first seventeen verses found within the chapter. It is with these seventeen verses that we encounter the formation of man of the dust of the ground, as well as the planting of the garden and mans being planted within that garden. Moreover, it is within this passage of scripture that we find the command instruction of the Lord unto Adam concerning the two trees which were present in the garden. Consider if you will the words and language that is found within this passage of Scripture:
“This the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blesses the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground. And the Lord God forked man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And a river went out of Edwin to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compass with the whole land of Hanukkah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river of Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. And the Lord God God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:1-17).
If you read the first seventeen verses of the second chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis you will find that after God rested on the seventh day from all His work on the first six days, He transitioned to a place where He planted a garden in the midst of the earth. Upon the completion of the garden we read of the Lord God forming man of the dust of the ground and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life, thus causing him to become a living soul. When we read of the garden which the Lord God not only planted, but also placed man in the midst thereof, we find the Lord causing to grow from the ground every tree that was good for food and pleasant for sight. I can’t help but wonder how many different varieties of trees with their fruit were found within the garden, and how many different types of fruit man had to choose from. What’s interesting to note is that in the midst of a garden full of trees which were good for food and pleasant for sight the Lord planted two distinct trees—one being the tree of life, and the other which was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Once these two trees were planted in the midst of the garden the Lord gave man a very specific command that was to coexist with an invitation. The invitation given unto Adam was that he could freely eat of every tree that was found in the garden—including and as well as the tree of life—yet that invitation was accompanied by a command and a warning. The command given unto Adam was to abstain and refrain from eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, while the warning was simply that in the day he partook of the fruit of that tree he would surely die.
What is so incredible to me is that in a garden filled with trees which were good for food and pleasant for sight, it was the one tree which was not permissible that was used to tempt and entice Eve in the garden. If there is one thing we must recognize and learn concerning this particular passage is that while we might be surrounded by a variety of things which might be good and pleasant, there are those certain things which while they might also be good and pleasant, and not permissible. There is not a doubt in my mind that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil appeared to be every bit the same as the various other trees within the garden, yet the one fundamental truth that made that tree completely different was that that tree was accompanied by a command and warning. WHEN THAT WHICH IS PLEASANT TO THE EYES COMES WITH A WARNING! WHEN THAT WHICH IS SEEMS TO BE GOOD COMES WITH A COMMAND! I am convinced there are a number of things all around us which may seem to be good unto and good for us, yeh they not only carry with them a command to abstain and refrain, but also a warning should we decide to engage ourselves with it. I am convinced there are a number of things all around us which might very well be, and are indeed pleasant for sight, and yet such things carry with them a command to abstain and refrain, as well as a warning should we choose to ignore, neglect and reject the command. I am convinced that it is absolutely possible for us to partake of and engage ourselves in and with certain things which might appear to be goof, and might be pleasant for sight, and yet we are prohibited from partaking of them. I would dare say that just because something appears or seems to be good, that doesn’t mean it is permissible for us. I am convinced that just because something is pleasant to look upon, that doesn’t mean it is permissible for us to partake of.
To help illustrate this point even further before getting into the account of Eve and the serpent, its absolutely necessary to examine and consider the life of Samson who allowed himself to become captivated by that which appeared to be good, and that which was pleasant for sight. IF you direct your attention to the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Judges you will notice the first account within the life of Samson where we find this reality perfectly illustrated, for we find Samson journey down to Timnath and there in Timnath we find him not only looking upon that which was undoubtedly pleasant to the eyes, but also engaging himself with it. Consider the following words: “And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; FOR SHE PLEASETH ME WELL. But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the PHilsitines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and he had nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. And he went down, and talked with the woman; AND SHE PLEASED SAMSON WELL. And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, there wa a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion. And he took thereof in his hands, and went on eating, and came to this father and mother, and he gave them, and they did eat: but he told not them that he had taken the honey out of the carcase of the lion. So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do. And it came to pass, when they saw him, that they brought thirty companions to be with him. And Samson said unto them, I will not put forth a riddle unto you? If ye can certainly declare it me within the seven feasts of the feast, and find it out, then I will you thirty sheets and thirty change of garments: but if ye cannot declare it me, then shall ye give me thirty sheets and thirty change of garments. And they said unto him, Put forth thy riddle, that we may hear it. And he said unto them, Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Judges 14:1-14).
This particular passage was the first of two passages where we find Samson pursuing that which would seem and appear unto him to be both good and pleasant. Twice within this particular passage we read how this woman of the Philistines from Timnath pleased Samson very well, and so much so that he sought to have her unto himself as his wife. When you come to the sixteenth chapter of the same Old Testament book you will find another account of Samson looking upon that which was good and pleasant in his sight, and pursuing it with everything he had. Beginning with the first verse of the sixteenth chapter of this Old Testament book we read and find the following words: “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her. And it was told the Gazites, saying, Samson is come hither. And they compassed him in, and laid wait for him all night in the gate of the city, and were quiet all the night, saying, In the morning, when it is day, we shall kill him. And Samson lay till midnight, and arose at midnight, and took the doors of the gate of the city, and the two posts, and went away with them, bar and all, and put them upon his shoulders, and carried them up to the top of an hill that is before Hebron. And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and said unto her, Entice him, and see wherein his great strength lieth, and by what means we may prevail against him, that we may bind him to afflict him: and we will give thee every one of us eleven hundred pieces of silver. And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee” (Judges 16:1-6).
It is necessary and imperative that when we read these three distinct references to the life of Samson that we understand that while he did indeed fulfill the requirements of the Nazarite vow he held to from the days of his birth, there was a glaring weakness and struggle he faced—perhaps throughout his life. THE WOMAN FROM TIMNATH! THE HARLOT! DELILAH! When studying the life of Samson it’s worth noting and understanding that he was a man who was drawn by and enticed by that which was good and pleasant to the eyes, and that which satisfied and gratified his flesh. There is not a doubt in my mind that the women Samson was enticed by were beautiful and comely to look it, however, that did not mean the woman were permissible for him. In all reality, I am convinced that just because certain things are pleasant unto the eyes and appear outwardly beautiful in our sight doesn’t mean that such things are permissible unto us. I can’t help but consider the fact that when Samson went down to TImnath to take this woman unto himself as wife that a lion came out against him so as to devour him. It is true that this was an occasion against the Philistines from the Lord to begin to repeal their dominion and authority over the children of Israel, however, I would dare say that there are times in our lives when we set out to pursue that which might very well appear to be good, and comely, and pleasant, and beautiful, and the minute we set forth to pursue such things, we are met with a lion that would seek to devour us. Let us remember the words of the apostle Peter who wrote concerning our adversary the devil. In the fifth chapter of his first epistle we read and find the following words—“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever” (1 Peter 5:6-11).
When considering the life of Samson it’s worth noting that on at least separate [recorded] occasions he was drawn away by and enticed by that which was undoubtedly good and pleasant before him in his sight. On one occasion he took a Philistine woman as wife; on another occasion he went into a Philistine harlot; and on another occasion he gave himself in love to a woman named Delilah. It’s worth noting that in addition to Samson being met by a lion in the process of taking the woman of Timnath as wife, that very same woman revealed the secret of his riddle to those who perhaps sought occasion against him. In the case of Delilah, we find that she not only nagged him concerning the source of his strength, but also once she had finally realized he had given in and revealed unto her the secret of his strength, she not only lulled him to sleep, but also had the locks of his head shaved, and called the Philistines upon Samson so as to destroy him. While Samson was drawn to that which was good and pleasant in his sight, one such thing revealed the secrets of his heart and mind to his enemies, while the other revealed the secret of his strength to his enemies and adversaries. There is an underlying warning and word of caution found within each of these accounts, for that which might appear to be good and pleasant in our sight might very well be that which would work for our destruction and demise. It is possible that while certain things around us might appear to be good and pleasant in our sight, those very same things might very well seek to uncover the secrets of our heart and mind, and reveal them to those who would destroy and devour us. What’s more, is that those things which might appear to be good and pleasant within our eyes might very well be those things which will not only seek to uncover the source of our strength, but will also lull us into a place of sleep and stupor in order that the source of our strength might be compromised, and we might be overcome by our enemies and adversaries. These Philistine women—while they might have appeared to be good and pleasant unto Samson—would actually each in their own way plot his destruction, demise and devastation. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for it helps reveal the bondage we might very well find ourselves coming into when we pursue that which might be good and pleasant in our eyes, yet is not permissible for us.
Turning our attention back to the third chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis we find the account of Eve and the serpent at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There is no indication whether or not Eve was drawn to and enticed by the fruit of this tree previously, but one can’t help but wonder how the serpent was able to beguile her with the fruit of the tree. Is it possible that Eve might have made frequent passes by this tree and admired the fruit that grew upon it? Is it possible that the serpent was able to deceive, tempt and beguile Eve with the fruit of this tree because he observed her continually making passes at this tree? At any rate, we must consider carefully the account of Eve with the serpent, for it helps reveal the tremendous reality that we can be brought into bondage by that which might very well appear to be good and pleasant. If you read the account of Eve and the serpent, you will first notice the serpent asking Eve whether or not God did indeed say that they should not eat of every tree in the garden. This particular question isolated this individual tree from the rest of the trees, and caused her to focus on that one thing that was good and pleasant, yet was not permissible for her. When Eve responded to the serpent’s question he responded by stating that she would not surely die, for the Lord knows that in the day she eats thereof, her eyes shall be opened, and she and her husband would be as gods, knowing good and evil. It was immediately after this we read the most intense plot twist, for we find the woman looking upon the tree and seeing that it was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desired to make one wise. It is necessary that we recognize and understand this, for Eve was not drawn to that which was inherently evil, for she was drawn to that which was good for feed, that which was pleasant to the eyes, and that which would make one wise. Essentially and ultimately Eve was drawn away and enticed by that which would gratify her flesh, would be appeal to the eyes, and which would bring her to a place she otherwise hadn’t been. The account of Eve with the serpent in the garden must be examined, for it reveals the incredible reality that we can indeed be drawn away and enticed by that which is good unto us within our lives, and by that which is pleasant unto the eyes, and yet that which we are drawn away and enticed by might very well bring us in bondage and under the dominion and authority of that which would destroy us.
I can’t help but be reminded of the words of the apostle Paul which he wrote unto the saints which were at Rome—words which are found in the sixth chapter of this epistle. Beginning with the first verse of this chapter we read the following words: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death/ Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For He that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him: knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath. No more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:1-14). Within this particular passage of Scripture we find two distinct realities which shall not have any dominion and/or authority over us—the first being death, and the second being sin. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and pay close attention to what we find within this passage, for it is possible that we might be brought under the bondage of death as a direct result of allowing ourselves to give into that which while it might appear to be good and pleasant, might not be permissible for us. What’s more, is that it might very well be possible for us to be brought under the dominion of sin within our lives by going after, chasing after, and pursuing that which appears to be good and pleasant before us in our own sight.
As you continue reading this passage within the sixth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian congregation you will find the apostle going on to write that meats for the belly, and the belly for meats, yet God shall destroy both it and them. Furthermore, you will read the words of the apostle Paul concerning the body not being for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. The apostle Paul would go on to write and declare that just as God had both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power. It’s worth noting the apostle Paul goes on to write how our bodies are the members of Christ, and then asks whether or not we would take the members of Christ and make them the members of an harlot. Paul would go on to write that that which is joined to an harlot is one body, for the two shall become one flesh. Those, however, who are joined unto the Lord are one spirit, and we as individuals and as a corporate body are the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in us, which we have of God. Within this passage of Scripture we not only read of us being the members of Christ, but we also read of our being the temple of the Holy Ghost. The question we must ask ourselves is since we are members of Christ, what are we joining ourselves to. The second question we must ask ourselves is since we are the temple of the Holy Ghost, what are we filling that temple with. Much like the vision Ezekiel saw in the Spirit concerning the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem we must examine carefully our temple to see if we have. Joined the temple of the Holy Ghost with idols. JOINING THE TEMPLE OF THE HOLY GHOST WITH IDOLS AND JOINING THE MEMBERS OF CHRIST WITH A HARLOT! JOINING UNTO HARLOTS AND FILLING WITH IDOLS! I am incredibly challenged with the words that are found and recorded in this passage of Scripture, for within this passage of Scripture we find an incredible challenge to examine our lives and to understand the very real possibility that we can indeed be brought into bondage and brought under dominion by that which appears to be good and pleasant before us. We must ask ourselves whether or not we truly feel and believe we are the ultimate authority for that which is good and evil, and that which is permissible and that which is prohibited within our lives. Ultimately, the true question we must ask ourselves is what are we fleeing from, and what we are running away from, and what are we resisting in order that we might not be brought under the dominion or power of that which would destroy us and keep us in bondage.