Pattern of Lies

May 25, 2017

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 certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it…” (Genesis 3:1-6).

Have you ever heard those whispers: “Did God really say that? There won’t really be accountability or consequences if you do that. God is holding out on you and holding you back, maybe He isn’t really good.” Those whispers echo back to that fateful day in the garden when Eve took the bait, hook line and sinker. That crafty serpent knew the way to her heart, and he whispers the same thing to ours.

First, he distorted and twisted God’s Word, seeking to cause doubt in Eve’s mind. God had told Adam that they could freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden (abundance of freedom and provision) except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, (Genesis 2:16-17). Do you notice how Satan (grossly) misquoted the command? “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” He spoke in a taunting way, seeking to portray God’s command (and thus God Himself) as uncertain and unreasonable.

Next, he overtly denied what God had clearly said, seeking to cause greater doubt in God’s Word and character. “You will not certainly die!” He forcefully claims, setting God up to be a liar.

From here, and of greater consequence, he sought to malign God’s character, calling His motives into question. He seeks to plant a seed of discontentment and suspicion that God is not only holding out on her but also holding her back. “Why would God withhold knowledge, newfound awareness, and wisdom from her?” he wants her to ask. “I know I have an abundance, but maybe just a little bit more is even better.” Keep spiraling Eve, he cheers. “This boundary and restriction makes no sense to me. Is God really good and to be trusted after all?” Bam. She’s done for. He salivates as the doubt begins to spiral into full-fledged disobedience, prideful ambition, and rebellion.

John Calvin wisely comments on this passage: “Very dangerous is the temptation, when it is suggested to us, that God is not to be obeyed except so far as the reason of His command is apparent.”

As for Eve, for us the downward spiral starts with just a seed; the smallest of doubts. Once Satan has gotten us to question God’s Word (or just stay away from it and not know it), we stand on shifty ground. From there, anything and everything is called into question, and we are more likely to live however we want. We live as if we will never stand before a God that is so brilliant, holy, and glorious that if we saw Him, we couldn’t handle it and live. We live as if we will never be held accountable for every word, every thought, every action. We doubt God’s character: His justice, His goodness, His love. We view His restrictions as unreasonable—as Him holding out on us or holding us back. Our minds become darkened, and the beauty of His brilliance is eclipsed by the cheap sparkle of the world. We are allured and tempted to trade Him in for money, success, beauty, power, or temporary comfort and pleasure. We want to be like God: self sufficient, independent, knowing and determining on our own what is good and evil.

Does Satan not use this same pattern today? Doubt God’s Word. Doubt God’s heart. Then go your own way and rest on your own authority, only to suffer heartbreak and realize you were utterly deceived. Adam and Eve gained “knowledge” that day, but it was a knowledge that caused the deepest pain imaginable and eternal separation from the only Good in the universe.

Many years later, the “second Adam” would come. He too was tempted by the devil (Matthew 4), but this time, He stood firm. He did not doubt God’s Word, rather he wielded it as a sword. He did not doubt His Father’s heart. He knew His goodness so well that no temptation could draw Him away. He lived the sinless life we could not, then died the death we deserved, rising again to lead us home. Let us study and know God’s Word so earnestly that we simultaneously resist the devil and draw near to Christ (James 4:8).