The Bible makes it quite clear that a man cannot serve two masters. In the same respect, what appears to be two conflicting loves is not love for both but a hatred for one and a love for the other. This thought is reminiscent of the rich young ruler. At the outset of this man’s story, it would appear as though he loved eternal life, God, and the commandments. The man wanted to know what he must do to be saved. He claimed that he had kept the law from his youth. Now, obviously this could not have been true, yet nevertheless, we get the impression that this man was a moral person. But his button gets pushed.
The rich young ruler was a rich man who loved his wealth. Jesus tests this man’s “earnest” plea for guidance on how to receive eternal life. How bad did this man really want what he was asking for? Jesus tells him to sell all that he has, give it to the poor, and then to come and follow Jesus.
In this command, the heart of the matter was not the distributing of the funds to the poor but rather the giving of his wealth to follow Jesus. In it, a picture is gained of what must be done in everyone’s life if he really wants to seek after Christ. The rich young ruler had to let go of (sell) what he had to follow Christ. He could not lay hold of Jesus while at the same time clutching his riches. Jesus then told of the way that it seems more likely for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich or wealthy man to enter the kingdom of heaven.Sponsored
This is a startling claim that does not receive enough credence. This is especially true in America, where money is plenteous. This is not to say that money is inherently evil, for it is not. But there is a way in which wealth and prosperity become a monumental temptation and besetting sin that can be difficult to overcome. Scripture says, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10). Paul says that a love for money has caused many to “err” (or stray or divert) from the path.
The rich young ruler, in the end, did not want to give up his riches. He did not want to let go. In the end, what initially may have appeared as a love for God, eternal life, and the commandments was nothing short of a hatred for those things that he thought he was seeking.
The world will vie for your attention. Do not allow it to do so. John gives the Christian guidance in 1 John 2:15-17, as does the book of Genesis, the book of Luke, and the example of a man was strayed from the path.
In 1 John 2:15-16, John says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15-16). John here tells his readers of the three avenues of temptation that are found in the world: the flesh, the eyes, and pride. That which the flesh craves, that which the eyes see, or that which arouses pride will all bring about temptation. The world provides all these three avenues in the lives of the people of the earth.
But what does the rest of the Bible have to say about this?
For starters, these avenues of temptation have been around from the beginning. In Genesis chapter 3, a story is recorded in which the serpent, who is the devil, came to deceive Adam and Eve. The serpent approached Eve to lead her astray. He knew that if he could get Adam and Eve to eat from the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they would sin against the Lord.
As Satan set out to do this, what is recorded is important. The Bible says that the fruit was “good for food” and “pleasant to the eyes” and would “make one wise” (Gen. 3:6). Here we see the same temptations that John speaks of in 1 John 2:15-16.
When the Bible says that the tree was good for food, this was the lust of the flesh. The flesh craved the fruit. When it is recorded that the fruit was pleasant to the eyes, this was the lust of the eyes. Finally, when the Bible says that the fruit would make one wise, this was the pride of life (for this being made wise would have aroused pride).
What we see is that these three avenues of temptation listed in 1 John were the same avenues Satan used to bring about the fall of man.
But another point in history is recorded in the life of Jesus. Satan is present in this story as well. The story is told in Luke, chapter 4. In this portion of Scripture, Jesus is in the wilderness, and Satan is seeking to tempt Him. What does Satan do in his attempts to lead Jesus astray?
The Bible tells us that Satan sought to tempt Jesus to turn the stones into loaves of bread, Satan sought to get Jesus to bow down and worship him in return for the kingdoms of the earth, and finally, Satan sought to influence Jesus to throw himself down to the earth to prove that He was the Son of God.
In this scene, once again, the three avenues of temptation are on display. When Satan tempted Jesus to turn the loaves into bread, he was using the avenue of the flesh (Jesus was hungry). When Satan tempted Jesus to bow down to him in return for the kingdoms of the earth, he was using the lust of the eyes (Jesus saw all the kingdoms). Finally, Satan tempted Jesus to prove His deity (the pride of life). Satan basically said, “If you really are God, prove it.”
What we can see in the life of Jesus is that, throughout it all, He remained faithful to His Father. He was obedient and persevered in the Father’s will. He is the perfect example for the Christian, and He is our righteousness. It is possible that when the Scriptures declare that Jesus was tempted in every way that man is tempted, it is directly referring to the three avenues of temptation through which all sin travels.
But there also remains a negative example in the Scriptures that is worth mentioning. This man is not spoken of often. In most cases, he is spoken of in a good light. But overtime, the world vied for his attention, and in the end, he gave into temptation. How a man starts is not nearly as important as how a man finishes. This truth is portrayed in the life of a man by the name of Demas.
His name is mention in the following passages: Colossians 4:14, 2 Timothy 2:10, and Philemon 24.
In Col. 4:14, Demas is placed alongside Luke, the author of the book of Luke and Acts. In Philemon, he is placed alongside Luke, Epaphras, Mark (John Mark, the author of the book of Mark), and Aristarchus. He is even declared to be a “fellowlabourer” of Paul. What good company. It certainly would not appear as though Demas would need to be concerned about falling away.
However, in Paul’s final book that he wrote shortly prior to his death, he makes a startling statement about Demas. Scripture says, “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed to Thessalonica…” (2 Tim. 2:10). Demas left Paul and strayed from the faith.
Do not think that this cannot happen to you. Most likely, subtle moves toward the world and allowances in Demas’s heart caused him to stray entirely. It was most likely not a grand leap, but rather he found himself inching toward the world and away from Christ. Be warned: Hold fast to the hope that is in Christ Jesus and guard your deposit.
Father, I thank You for the ways that You have helped me to see the truth of Your Word. Keep me in the faith as the world seeks to lead me astray. In Jesus’ name, Amen.