The Pair Are Tempted into Sin: Part 2 of 6 (series: Lessons on Genesis)
by John Lowe
The devil intended to persuade Eve to eat forbidden fruit; and, to do this, he used the same methods he still uses today. He questioned whether it was a sin or not; he denied that there was any danger in doing it (v. 4); he suggested it was for their advantage to do it (v. 5). The first thing he aimed to do was to remove her sense obligation to the command. "Surely you are mistaken, God would never deny you the use of this tree; he would not do such an unreasonable thing.’’ Here we see the subtlety of Satan; that he would blemish the reputation of the divine law by making it appear uncertain or unreasonable, and consequently to draw people to sin. The way we combat this approach is to keep up a firm belief of, and a high respect for, the commands of God. Has God said, "You shall not lie, take his name in vain, or be drunk,’’ etc.?” Yes, I am sure he has, and by his grace I will abide by it, no matter what the tempter suggests to the contrary.’’
The question arises: Why the temptation? If we go back to chapters 1 and 2, we find that man was created innocent, but man was not created righteous. What is righteousness? Righteousness is innocence that has been maintained in the presence of temptation. You see, temptation will either develop you or destroy you; it will do one or the other. Character must be developed, and it can only be developed in the presence of temptation. Man was created a responsible being, and he was responsible to glorify God, to obey God, to serve God, and to be subject to divine government. Temptation was a necessary part of creation, but God did not cause Adam and Eve to sin. They made that decision on their own!
2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
3 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.
Why did the serpent approach the woman? Why didn’t he approach the man? When God created Adam, He told him he could eat of every tree of the garden, except for this one particular tree. Woman was created last, and she had gotten her information secondhand, from the man. And so the serpent approached the woman first. Frankly, I think the woman may have been a better-quality creation than man; that is, she had more compassion and sympathy than man, which is still true. She was probably more open to suggestion than the man. Actually, I think women are more inquisitive than men. She is the one today who goes into the cults and isms and leads men into them. In fact, many of the founders of cults and isms have been women.
Instead of turning away, the woman engages the serpent in a conversation, which indicates she did not realize that the serpent was her enemy. Notice the following:
(1.) It was her weakness that allowed her to enter into this conversation with the serpent. She might have perceived from his question that he had no good intentions, and told him Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me. But her curiosity, and perhaps her surprise at hearing a serpent speak, led her to continue talking with him. Note, Proverbs 14.7 suggests that we “Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.” She should have turned away from the serpent and sought the company of her husband.
(2.) It was wise of her to point out the liberty God had granted them, in response to the serpent’s sly insinuation that God has put them into paradise only to tantalize them with the sight of appealing but forbidden fruits. "Yes,’’ says she, "we may eat the fruit of the trees, and thanks to our Maker, we have both abundance and plenty of variety to choose from.’’
(3.) It was a sign of her resolve to adhered to the command, that she faithfully repeated it, as if it was an unquestionable certainty: "God hath said (I am confident he said it), You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;’’ but then she adds, Neither shall you touch it, which seems to have been said with good intentions, and perhaps to indicate a high degree of prohibition.
(4.) She seems to be a little indecisive about the threat, since she added her own words to what God had said. God had said, IN THE DAY THOU EATEST THEREOF THOU SHALT SURELY DIE; but she distorted God’s command by adding her own interpretation, GOD HATH SAID, YE SHALL NOT EAT OF IT, NEITHER SHALL YE TOUCH IT, LEST YE DIE. Either she was exaggerating in hopes of making God’s directive so restrictive that it appears unjust, or Adam did not properly convey the prohibition to her.
Satan knew what he was doing. He used a very subtle method. He asked her a question, which cast doubt on
the Word of God, “YEA, HATH GOD SAID, YE SHALL NOT EAT OF EVERY TREE OF THE GARDEN?” He raises a doubt in her mind and raises her curiosity. She answers, “We can eat of all the trees, but this tree God has told us, ‘Ye shall not eat of it that’s all God had said, but she added something
, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’” I do not find where God ever said, “You are not to touch it.” Her answer exaggerated the liberty they enjoyed amongst all the trees—only one is exempted, with respect to which, she declared both the prohibition and the penalty. But there is reason to think that she had already received a detrimental impression; because by using the words "LEST YE DIE," instead of "YE SHALL SURELY DIE" (Ge 2:17), she spoke as if the tree had been forbidden because of some poisonous quality of its fruit. The tempter, perceiving this, became bolder in his assertions.
4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5 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 the serpent said unto the woman,
The serpent had an evil plan, and he was carrying it out brilliantly, although Eve in her innocence must have been extremely naïve, and contributed to her own downfall. Satan was in the position to deliver the knockout blow; he would deny the accuracy of God’s word. And Eve must choose between believing God’s word or Satan’s lies. Satan hates God and he hates man, consequently he goes all out in condemning the concept of the absolute authority of God. The serpent very cleverly contradicts God, and he substitutes his word for God’s word. The Book of Romans teaches the fact of the obedience of faith. Faith leads to obedience, and unbelief leads to disobedience. Doubt leads to disobedience—always.
Ye shall not surely die:
The serpent denies that there was any danger in disobeying God’s command; his erroneous contention is this—all it amounts to is breaking a rule, and you will not be punished for misbehaving: YOU SHALL NOT SURELY DIE. It is a direct contradiction of what God had said. Now, his statement can be taken in two ways:
1. "IT IS NOT CERTAIN THAT YOU SHALL DIE,’’ or perhaps, “It is not as certain as you have been lead to believe.” With this approach Satan hopes to shake or even overthrow her trust in God’s word, and invalidate the power of divine threats by questioning the certainty of them; and once there is doubt in the legitimacy or accuracy of God’s word, a door is opened to downright disloyalty. Satan teaches men first to doubt and then to deny; he makes them skeptics first, and then by degrees makes them atheists.
2. "IT IS CERTAIN YOU SHALL NOT DIE.’’ He states his contradiction with the same phrase of assurance that God had used in declaring the warning. He began by questioning God’s rule (v. 1), but, when he saw that approach was not working, he quit that assault, and immediately began another, where he perceived her to be the weakest; he is skillful at finding ways to gain the advantage, and to attack where one is the weakest: YOU SHALL NOT SURELY DIE. That this was a downright lie is apparent for two reasons:
1. IT WAS CONTRARY TO THE WORD OF GOD, which we know is true—“I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth… But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” (1 John 2:21, 27; KJV). You not only know what is the truth (concerning the Son and the Father), but also are able to detect a lie. You do not need a teacher because you have the Holy Spirit as your teacher; He teaches us the truth, and we will abide in that teaching." This does not mean that the believer is made infallible, since no believer receives the Spirit in all its fulness while he is here, but only enough to keep him from some soul-destroying error.
2. IT WAS CONTRARY TO HIS OWN KNOWLEDGE. When he told them there was no danger in disobedience and rebellion he knew from personal experience that it was a lie. He had broken God’s law, and he was punished by having to live on earth instead of in heaven; and yet he tells our first parents they shall not die. He concealed his own misery, so that he might make them miserable too: He still deceives sinners in the same way; by convincing them that they can get away with sin. He tells them that, even though they sin, they shall not die; and they prefer to listen to him instead of God, who tells them, “The wages of sin is death.”