The Word for today:
mark this: Genesis 3:1
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'?"
Students of scripture must have a thorough understanding of Genesis 3:
We must be aware of Satan's strategic distortion of God's Word in the Garden of Eden;
We must guard against the very same strategies when they are employed by Satan today;
We must learn, from the Bible's parallel scenes--the temptation of Christ in Matthew 4 and Luke 4--how Jesus wielded the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (1) to defeat Satan's evil designs.
So let's walk, step by step, through the garden…
Did God really say…?
Adam and Eve are real individuals and their story is specific history recorded by Moses under the direction of the Holy Spirit. But their story is also universal, describing what has happened countless millions of times down through the ages--the descent into sin.
God's word attacked.
Through the snake's voice Satan attacked God's Word. This is the beginning of the descent.
God's Word had been responsible for everything that Adam and Eve enjoyed. God speaks into existence day and night, sun and moon, the blue sky, flowers, singing birds, and all the adoring creatures.
"Did God really say…"
So shrewd. The serpent didn't directly deny God's Word, but he smuggled the assumption that God's Word is subject to our judgment. Such a thought had never been verbalized before, and it was enticing.
This sets up Satan's systematic distortion of God's Word.
Satan's scheme (which will fail) is to get them--and you--to sin; he postulates that God will love them too much to condemn them and in so doing God will have abrogated his own word, placing him on the same level with Adam and Eve--on the level of sin.
"Did God really say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1)
This is a complete distortion of God's Word and his generosity.
Whereas God was generous in his original statement of verse 2:16--You are free to eat of every tree but one-- he is made to seem stingy and miserly, by suggestion. Satan is subtle--not coming out and directly attacking the Word of God--he just asks an "innocent" question. The seed of doubt has been planted and it will bear surprisingly quick fruit.
This would have been a great opportunity to defend God, but Eve didn't. She descended to her own revisions of God's Word:
She diminishes God's Word.
She adds to God's Word.
She softens God's Word.
3:2--She leaves the 'every' out of verse 2:16. She discounted God's gracious generosity. This is a tacit agreement with the serpent. This subtle shift of heart indicates something bad is happening inside of Eve.
3:3: "…and you must not touch it." God never said that; Eve added it. She magnified God's strictness. Then, paradoxically, she…
3:3: She leaves out the "surely" of 2:16. She removes the certitude of death.
By her revisionist approach to the Word of God she has placed herself in harm's way.
This emboldens the serpents' reply in 3:4--"You will not surely die." This is not subtle. Together, they have arrived at the place of saying that God's Word is wrong.
"You will not surely die."
The doctrine of divine judgment is the very first doctrine to be denied. Satan attacks it from the beginning. Modern culture's loathing of this doctrine indicates that our culture is conversant with Satan, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2) But note that judgment did come upon Eve and Adam--as it surely will fall on all.
God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (3:5)
Emboldened further by Eve's participation in the distortion of God's Word, the serpent shifts from attacking the Word of God to attacking the very goodness of God Himself. According to the serpent, the threat of death is nothing but a scare tactic to keep them in their place. So God is repressive, and jealous--that they not ascend too high. This is an incredible, unbelievable slander of God, in light of the thousand "goods" of creation.
This lie would alter life on earth forever. It bore the lure of divinity for Eve: You will be like God. Sin had a promise, which God's Word withheld.
By reaching out for the fruit and eating it, she would be like God; she would decide what was right and wrong apart from God's Word. What an intoxicating thing it was--and is today: she would do it her own way. This is the lure of moral autonomy--to be your own moral compass.The godlike prospect of moral autonomy drew her to take and eat the fruit.
Adam and Eve had come from the pinnacle of innocence and intimacy to the pit of guilt and estrangement. See 3:7-8.
***We are not unaware of Satan's schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
What we learn from Genesis is that sin takes hold when we begin to doubt God's Word and God's goodness.
When this starts to work in us, we begin to leave out the great pluses in God's word and character. We begin to minimize the promises and the graces and the goodness of his Word. They evaporate in our minds. We become less enthusiastic.
Then we add to and exaggerate the things we don't like, making it grievous in our minds.
When we do these things, we are in harm's way. We begin to regard God as someone who is withholding something, keeping us down, repressing us.
That's why Moses, who wrote Genesis under the inspiration of the Spirit, at the very end of his writing, will say:
Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you--they are your life. (2)
And when we come to the New Testament we find Jesus facing Satan--in the wilderness, not in the Garden. He defeats Satan with three quotations from Deuteronomy, including "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (3).
(1) Ephesians 6:17 (2) See Deuteronomy 6:6-9; and Deuteronomy 32: 46, 47a; (3) Matthew 4:4, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3