Satan, in the form of the serpent here, is very cunning. Christians often underestimate him. It is fascinating and enlightening to see him at work in this chapter. In chapter 2 we read,
- And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Look at both the serpent and Eve’s choice of words in chapter 3.
- Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
- The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “
- “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
First Satan sows some doubt by saying ‘Did God really say’. Then to add to the thoughts of doubt, he proceeds to misquote God (‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’) to make the deception complete. We never have to doubt God’s words but it would be important to know what they are, otherwise we would not know how to answer the ‘Did God really say’ question when we are confronted with it . . .
I find it interesting that in Eve’s response she (1) does not call the tree by its proper name, (2) she adds words to God’s command (‘you must not touch it’), and (3) she does not fully quote God’s punishment for disobedience: “you will surely die”. The eventual outcome is quite disastrous. We have to be careful with words (I am now speaking to myself too!), especially when it comes to God’s words. Every word in the Bible has its place and purpose. We read in 2 Timothy that “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.” We shouldn’t let this age’s tendency to be careless with words influence how we read and remember God’s words. It can have eternal consequences . . .
Satan finishes the deception off with a blatant lie (‘You will not surely die’), and a false promise (‘For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’). Unfortunately Eve and Adam fall for it and choose against God’s command – causing the punitive part of God’s command to go into effect. Satan did not make them do it: they chose to do it, against God’s instruction. Satan is both a liar and a destroyer.
I think we learn from this series of events part of the action plan on how to resist temptations (deceptions from Satan): if we know God’s words, and we have chosen to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit will enable us to both identify and reject temptations as foolishness when they come. However, if we are not familiar with God’s words, we make it much easier for Satan to sell us a lie.
Until tomorrow . . .