The Pair Are Tempted into Sin: Part 1 of 6 (series: Lessons on Genesis)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

July 19, 2013

The Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe

Lesson I.B.4: The Pair Are Tempted into Sin.

Gen. 3.1-7 (KJV)
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
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.
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.
6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Up to this point, God’s voice is the only one we have heard; creating and commanding. Now another “voice” is heard, the voice of Satan, the deceiver. He is a snake that deceives—“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor 11:1-3; KJV). He is also a liar, and a murderer— “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44; KJV). He questioned God’s word and God’s goodness (v. 1), denied God’s warning (v. 4), and then substituted a lie for God’s truth (v. 5). “You will be like God” is his greatest lie—“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:12-14; KJV), and people still believe it.

Eve was deceived when she ate, but Adam was not; he sinned with his eyes wide open—“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Tim 2:14; KJV).

1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
The words NOW THE SERPENT may have been placed at the top of the chapter for emphasis. All the stress falls on them. The Hebrew reveals that this is a literal reptile. He is a creature that God made and he is described as MORE SUBTIL. The Hebrew word for SUBTIL is “arūm,” and it sounds like the word rendered NAKED in Genesis 2:25 (˓arūmīm). To describe a snake in these terms seems to be taking the first step in going behind the scene and letting us know that there is more here than meets the eye. There is to be some connection between nakedness and subtlety; and since subtlety is a word that one would NOT use when describing a serpent there would appear to be something going on that could prove to be shocking and highly unusual.

This is an account of the temptation with which Satan assaulted our first parents, and I believe you are familiar with the story of how he draws them into a sinful act which proved fatal to them. But just in case the details are a little fuzzy I will provide some background. The tempter was the devil, in the shape and likeness of a serpent or it was a real living serpent, actuated and possessed by the devil, it

is not certain. But it is certain that Eve was beguiled by the devil. The devil who is also called Satan is the old serpent of Revelation 2:9—“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” He is an evil spirit, created an angel of light and a close subordinate of God, but by sin he became a traitor and a rebel opposed to God’s crown and nobility. Multitudes of angels were thrown out of heaven along with Satan; but this thing that attacked our first parents was definitely the prince of the devils, the ring-leader in the rebellion: no sooner was he a sinner than he was a devil, no sooner a traitor than a tempter, because he was furious against God and His glory and envious of man and his happiness. He knew that the only way he could destroy man was to use deception that would tempt him to sin. The plot which Satan concocted was to draw our first parents into sin, and to separate them from their God. Therefore the devil was a murderer, and a great villain, from the beginning.

The devil chose to act in the role of a serpent, but we are not told what kind it was, only that it WAS MORE SUBTIL THAN ANY BEAST OF THE FIELD. Many examples are given of the subtlety of the serpent and its ability to do harm to people. We are commanded to be as wise as serpents. But this serpent is motivated and controlled by the devil, and he was undoubtedly more subtle than any other creature; because, the devil, though he has lost the sacredness of an angel retained the shrewdness and wisdom of one, and therefore he was capable of doing great evil. The serpent, as it existed in Eden, is not to be thought of as a snake. That form is the effect of the curse of Genesis 3:14. The creature which Satan possessed may well have been the most beautiful as well as the most "subtle" of creatures less than man. Traces of that beauty remain despite the curse. Every movement of a serpent is graceful, and many species are beautifully colored.

And he said unto the woman,
Satan decided to disguise himself as a “cunning” (lit. “shrewd” or “clever”) creature. The text does not say why the serpent approached the woman instead of the man, but it may have been due to her situation—she was alone, and at a distance from her husband, but near the forbidden tree. He took advantage of finding her near the forbidden tree, and probably gazing upon its fruit, if only to satisfy her curiosity. It is possible he decided to attack her rather than Adam because she was the weaker vessel; inferior to Adam in knowledge, and strength, and presence of mind. Some think he chose Eve because she, unlike Adam, did not receive this prohibition directly from God—“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen 2:16-17; KJV), and therefore she might more easily be persuaded to discredit it. Though sinless and holy, she was a free agent, and liable to be tempted and seduced. Satan’ plan was to tempt her, and then to tempt Adam through her.

The fact that the serpent speaks at all is tantamount to a denial that God made him, because he was definitely not made after his kind, and he was not good—“And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good” (Gen 1:25; KJV).Only man has the ability to speak.

Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
The first word insinuated that something was said before this, and they are connected; perhaps Eve had been talking with herself, and Satan took advantage of the situation to graft on this question, HATH GOD SAID, YE SHALL NOT EAT OF EVERY TREE OF THE GARDEN. Here is a question which seems designed to cast doubt upon God’s goodness and at the same time imply that if the serpent is misinformed, he is willing to be instructed in the matter (Do you really mean to say God has said you are not to eat from all of them?). He implants the idea that God is excessively strict by not permitting Adam and Eve to eat from all the trees. Notice how he does it; he quotes the command inaccurately, making it a prohibition of all the trees, instead of that one. God had said, Of every tree you may eat, except one.

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