In writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul cautions them and says, “I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). The New Testament writers viewed the temptation in the Garden as a real event (Romans 5:12; 1 Timothy 2:13-15), and Jesus previously had endorsed the early chapters in Genesis as being historically true and accurate (Matthew 19:4-6,9). Over the years many observations had been made from the temptation recorded in the third chapter of Genesis.
The Approach: I am Interested in Truth As Well
3:1 “Indeed, has God said”: “The first words uttered form a question, which seems designed to cast doubt upon God’s goodness and yet, at the same time, seems to imply that if the serpent is misinformed, he is willing to be instructed in the matter… It is a sly question, for whatever else it may do, it serves to implant within the mind the idea that God is unduly strict in not permitting Adam and Eve to eat from all the trees. ‘Really? Can it possibly be?’” (Genesis Chapter 3, Edward J. Young, pp. 20, 21). “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?”: Observe the emphasis on the term “Indeed” or “Really”, and how the question is placed in the extreme, “Is it really a fact that God is not letting you eat from any of these beautiful trees?” “Is God keeping all these trees to Himself?” Also observe how the serpent gives the impression that he is interested in the truth – when in fact he is not (John 8:44).
- Satan still wants us to question God’s goodness.
- Satan still wants us to think that if we become a Christian we will miss out on all the fun.
- We may be ridiculed for all the things we are prevented from doing.
- We will be subtly informed that we cannot trust God with our own happiness and that we need to strike out on our own.
3:2 “And the woman said to the serpent”: Eve does remember the truth (2:16-17). We must always bear in mind as we encounter error, that error is never on par with truth, and that we are not merely trading opinions with someone else. Like Jesus, we need to meet error with the words of Scripture (Luke 4:4,8,12 “it is written”). Thus, when we give an answer (1Peter 3:15) for the hope within us, let us remind ourselves to give a “thus saith the Lord” (1 Peter 4:11).
3:3 “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat”: The original command had said, “eat freely” (2:16). “God uses the word ‘all’ to make it clear that the entire garden was for man. God had stressed the fact that the eating was to be abundant… and this idiom simply means that Adam might freely and abundantly partake of the fruit of all the garden’s trees” (Young, p. 27). In contrast to what Satan says, those who love God will respond and say loudly and clearly:
- God is good
- God has treated me better than I deserve
- God has bestowed upon me abundant blessings
- I have not been deprived in living the Christian life
- God can be trusted with my happiness
- This world is filled with all sorts of good, clean, enjoyable things I can do (1 Timothy 4:4)
The Confident Contradiction
3:4 “You surely shall not die”: The emphasis here is on the word “Not”, the serpent calls God a liar, and absolutely assures Eve that they will not die if they partake. It is strange that Christians are ridiculed for believing in absolute truth – when in fact unbelievers hold to all sorts of unproven absolutes, such as "you shall not surely die". This is an absolute statement. Like Satan, the unbelieving world often comes across as being very confident in their assertions (2 Peter 2:18-19; 12 “reviling where they have no knowledge”). Learn to see through them.
The Accusation Against God’s Character
3:5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil”: Evil is not neutral, rather it always attacks the very nature of God. Satan is condemning the concept of God’s goodness, truthfulness and His absolute authority in the universe. He is saying, “The commands of God are harsh and stringent. They constrict life so that they prohibit one from realizing life in all its potentialities and force one into a cramped narrow existence. Far more important than law, the tempter would seem to say, is love. He condemns Eve’s attitude of trust in God’s command and seeks to point out to her that if she would obtain the wholesomeness and well-roundedness that should characterize a fruitful life, she must not be bound by law… She is confined by her position of trusting in God, of taking seriously His command… From this cramping position she must be emancipated and move over to a standpoint of neutrality from which she can accurately pass judgment upon God and His commands. She is foolish to continue permitting God to lay down the law for her. (Young, p. 35).
The Lost Focus
3:6 “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise”: We know we have lost sight of God’s goodness when a particular sin becomes the focus of all our attention. Observe that Eve already had everything in greater abundance than this tree could offer. She already had an abundance of wonderful food (2:16). She already had beautiful things to enjoy, and she already was wise in following God. In like manner, yielding to temptation never adds anything beneficial to our lives; it does not enrich us, and it is never anything we really need. The devil is powerless to give us anything that will add happiness to our lives, and in the end, he can only take away joy. Eve did not lack anything, and neither do we (2 Peter 1:3; Psalm 23; Ephesians 1:3). This is one reason why a “grateful heart” is the best defense against any temptation. Cultivate one.
Failing to Get God’s Side
As one reads Genesis chapters 2 and 3 it is clear that during this time:
- There was some open communication between God and man: 2:16; 3:8
- Nothing seemed to prevent Adam and Eve from coming to God and saying, “We are curious as to why that tree is off-limits”. “We really like it here, we are grateful for all our blessings, but we don’t quite understand why we cannot partake of that tree, can you explain that to us?”
- “We just encountered the serpent and he gave us information that contradicted what You said. Can you help us understand? What can you tell us about the serpent?”
- What Adam and Eve did on this occasion is very common. “In debating the wisdom of a proposed course of action, human beings routinely fail to obtain God’s side of the issue” (The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck, M.D. p. 273).
- One common problem is that mankind tends to rush ahead without taking the time, putting forth the effort, really digging for the answer as to why something that God says is off-limits, is actually detrimental to our well-being.
- In addition, God has given very specific answers and He offers wisdom for all who desire it (James 1:5). So, He does not want us to remain in ignorance, He wants us to be informed (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22; Acts 17:11).
- Repeatedly, God has impressed upon us that His commands all always given for our protection. They are not keeping us from life, rather they are designed to give us life (Deuteronomy 5:33; 6:24; 10:13; 1 Peter 3:10).
Mark Dunagan | email@example.com
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017