Genesis 3 is titled by most Biblical translations as “The Fall”, as in the “fall of man”. It was an event that brought sin and evil into the world. It changed everything about our human existence and relationship with God the Father. The devil or serpent was right in the middle of it stirring things up. As we discovered last week, the serpent or the devil is a fallen angel who was thrown out of heaven because of the wickedness and sin that was found in him.
15You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. 16Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. 17Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So, I threw you to the earth; Ezekiel 28:15-17 NIV
We can connect the dots between the serpent and the devil because Isaiah 28:15 tells us that he was “in Eden, the garden of God”. Unfortunately, we don’t get an explanation of why God allowed him to be in the garden in the first place. According to the Bible we know that the devil was “cast out” and we can only assume that he landed here on earth. I wished he would have been locked away somewhere, but that was God’s decision, and while I may question God it doesn’t mean God owes me an explanation. This is part of the problem with our understanding of God. We think that He owes us something, and the devil can use that to derail our relationship with God just like he did with Adam and Eve. Let’s go back to Genesis 3.
1Now 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’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but 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.’ ”4“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:1-5 NIV
We are told that the serpent (the devil) is “crafty”. No that doesn’t mean that he’s good at making angels with construction paper, magic markers, glue, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, and plastic wiggle eyes. He’s clever at achieving his aims by indirect or deceitful methods. If you’ll notice in Genesis 3, he doesn’t use bribery or try to trick Eve by disguising the fruit from the tree of good and evil as something else. His first salvo of temptation is just a simple question, “Did God really say?” to which Eve responds, “Yep, that’s what He said” and repeats God’s actual words, the truth. Let’s go back and fact check that.
15The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” Genesis 2:17 NIV
It’s all there in black and white. Eve knows that and seems to be content with it. However, the serpent (the devil) is not finished. The first question was bait to see if she would bite, and she doesn’t, so he goes on to plan B. He responds by repeating the original question but adds a little twist at the end. He doesn’t stop and wait for Eve to answer the question again. He immediately follows with “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.” (Genesis 3:4-5 NIV) There is an element of truth in what he says because we know that after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they didn’t drop dead on the spot. There physical death would come much later, but his next move plays into the idea that God owes us something or is holding out on us. The devil wants us to question God’s motives and character. Basically, he’s saying, “Eve, dear child, are you really that naïve? Can’t you see that God is lying to you. Let me tell you that I’ve been around the block a few times and I have history with this guy (God). I know what is really going on behind the scenes. I’ve looked behind the curtain, and he’s really not what he seems. Please understand that I’m only here to help you guys. I’m on your side.”
One of the devil’s favorite tools is doubt. He is a master gardener of doubt. He knows exactly where and when to plant the seeds of doubt in our minds, and we fall for it more times than not. Adam and Eve may have let the skeleton out of the closet, but we haven’t tried too hard to put it back.Hebrews 12:4 says, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.” Meaning that we haven’t put up much of a fight to resist.
After the seed of doubt has been firmly planted in Eve’s mind, she seems to be giving it careful consideration running it through a mental filtering process to see if it’s legit. The devil likes it when we dwell on it. We campout with it, instead of getting rid of it. If we’ll hold on to it long enough, then he’s got a shot, and that’s exactly what Eve does.
“6When 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. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Genesis 3:6 NIV
The rationalization process has been engaged and she’s chewing on it. It passes the eye test and doesn’t look so bad plus I’ll gain some much-needed wisdom in the process. Maybe the serpent is right, and the next thing you know she is chowing down and offering it to her husband Adam. She probably told Adam that the serpent told her everything about how God was holding out on them, and that they deserved to know the truth. Of course, we know what happens. Their “eyes we’re opened”, and immediately the devil’s promise didn’t pay off. They didn’t become “like God” at all. In fact, they became quite the opposite. This new wisdom of “knowing good and evil” came with a price that included guilt, shame, and eventually death. They discovered the reason God told them not to eat from the tree of good and evil. God wasn’t holding out on them. He was protecting them.
Unfortunately, like Adam and Eve, we’ve had to learn the hard way that what God says is not a strategy of coercion, control, or manipulation. Quite the opposite. God wants to shield us from harm. Sin is a bullet, arrow, or bomb that is trying to kill and destroy us, and what God says, His commands or instructions are our best defense against the devil’s attacks. However, we can’t blame everything on the devil. We can’t use the Flip Wilson (Comedian from 1959-1990’s) defense that the “devil made me do it!” We need to remember that the devil doesn’t have the same powers as God. His powers are angelic, but not unlimited. He is not omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent like God. He can’t read your mind or make us do anything we don’t want to or shouldn’t do. James tells us that “13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15 NIV
That’s all for now. Read Ephesians 6:10-20 for next week.
Have a great Labor Day weekend! Love y’all!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC
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