- “You know you’re the only one for me!”
- “Do you come here often?”
- “Trust me, this was meant to be!”
- “Look around, baby. All the other guys around here are animals!”
- “I already feel like you’re a part of me!”
- “Honey, you were made for me!”
- “Why don’t you come over to my place and we can name some animals?”
- “You’re the girl of my dreams!”
- “I like a girl who doesn’t mind being ribbed!”
- “You’re the apple of my eye!”
By studying this passage, we will learn how sin entered the world and how we can overcome our sin. Let’s first set the scene: At the end of Genesis 2, life is perfect. Adam and Eve are naked in a lush and plush garden enjoying fellowship with the Lord and each other (2:25). Then something happens that forever changed the world.
The Serpent’s Scheme (3:1): Our story begins with the following description: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (3:1a).
Mankind’s first temptation comes through the mouth of “the serpent.” The creature here is a literal serpent that Satan embodied to carry out this temptation. The Hebrew word for “serpent” carries the idea of bright and shiny. This describes its general appearance as beautiful and pleasant to be around. The serpent made a good pet and was probably constantly around Adam and Eve. In fact, it is also probable, that for this reason, Satan chose to use the serpent as his disguise to deceive Eve.
The serpent is called “more crafty than any beast of the field.” The Hebrew word for “crafty” (arum) sounds like the word for “naked” (arumim, 2:25). While Adam and Eve were naked in innocence, the Serpent was crafty in deception. The word “crafty” is not primarily a negative term in the Bible. Rather, it often suggests wisdom. The description of the Serpent as “crafty” is in direct contrast to the foolishness exhibited by the first man and woman. In man’s quest to be wise like God (3:6), man made a most foolish decision. Instead of enjoying all that was “very good” (1:31) man went after that which was clearly forbidden.
In 3:1b, the Serpent speaks to the woman and asks the first question recorded in Scripture: “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” This is not an innocent conversation starter. The Serpent reduces God’s command to a question. Satan is so subtle. He does not directly deny God’s Word, but introduces the assumption that God’s Word is subject to our judgment.
Notice how Satan spins the question. He does not say, “Why would God keep you from eating the fruit of one tree?” It was couched in more deceptive words as he implies that God, who has forbidden one tree, has forbidden them all. However, the issue was one tree, not “any [every] tree of the garden.” The Devil’s words were misleading, and that is the way temptation always comes.
Satan focused Eve’s attention on God’s one prohibition. He suggested that God did not really want what was best for Adam and Eve but rather was withholding something from them that was essentially good. He hinted that God’s line of protection was actually a line that He drew because He was selfish. The Serpent wants God’s Word to appear harsh and restrictive. Satan is cleverly attempting to plant a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s Word and God’s goodness.
Do you believe God is holding something back from you? Is He preventing you from attaining something that is rightfully yours? Satan does not wish us to ponder the grace of God, but to grudgingly meditate upon His denials. We are to understand that denials (doing without, prohibitions) come from the hand of a good and loving God: “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps 84:11). When temptation comes, stop to think before you take and eat.
Instead of rebuking the Serpent for its craftiness and calling Adam in for spiritual assistance, Eve listens. Eve’s first mistake was to listen to teaching that did not come from either God or Adam. Her second mistake was to listen to teaching that was contrary to God’s previous instructions. Eve placed herself in a vulnerable position by accepting dialog with the Serpent.
One of the questions you may have is: why did the Serpent talk to the woman? Why didn’t he talk to Adam or both of them as a couple? I believe Satan attempted to put a wedge between husband and wife to conquer by dividing, thus to capture their minds and cause them to act in disobedience to God’s Word. That’s why God puts such a high premium on the oneness of husband and wife and why, as husbands and wives, we need to encourage one another and build up one another.
2. The Woman’s Response (3:2-3). Instead of shunning the Serpent, Eve obliged him by carrying on a conversation. Rather than running from this one who dared to mock God’s character, she stays to debate. This is never wise. The Devil is not reasonable so there is no point in trying to reason with him. Not to mention, it is always dangerous to flirt with temptation. The moment Eve detected the Serpent insinuating something suspicious about God’s goodness, she should have kicked dirt in his face and made tracks. But instead, she stayed to argue. There are many Christians today that think they can counter the Devil. So they talk trash to him, stomp him under their feet, and make light of his power. We must always remember to have a healthy degree of respect for Satan. He is powerful. We are no match for him apart from Christ’s power working in and through us.
Let’s take a close look at Eve’s reply in 3:2-3: “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
In her reply to the Serpent, Eve attempts to defend God’s honor but in the process distorts His Word. First, while God said, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely” (2:16), Eve said, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat” (3:2). Eve omitted “any” and “freely,” the two words that emphasized the generosity of God (cf. Rom 8:32). Eve subtracts from God’s Word.
Likewise, Eve had a distorted impression of the severity of God in prohibiting the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. She expressed God’s instruction in these words: “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die” (3:3). But God had said, “But from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die” (2:17). Eve magnified God’s strictness—“Just touch the tree, and zap you’re dead!” Her comment suggested that God is so harsh that an inadvertent slip would bring death. Here, Eve adds to God’s Word.
While exaggerating the prohibition to the point where even touching the tree was evil, Eve had unconsciously downplayed the judgment of God by omitting the word “surely,” and by failing to report that death would come on the day of the offense. In other words, Eve emphasized God’s severity, but underestimated the fact that judgment would be executed surely and soon. Satan’s first attack on the woman was that of a religious seeker, in an effort to create doubts about the goodness of God and to fix her attention on what was forbidden as opposed to all that was freely given. In this final example, Eve softens God’s Word.
Satan’s scheme was quite diabolical. Had he begun to challenge the rule of God or Eve’s faith in Him, her choice would have been an easy one. But Satan erroneously stated God’s command with a question so as to appear that he was misinformed and needed to be corrected. Few of us can avoid the temptation of telling another that they are wrong. And so, wonder of wonders, Eve has begun to walk the path of disobedience while supposing that she was defending God to the Serpent.
3. The Serpent’s Kill (3:4-5). In 3:1b, Satan operated as a sly ole dog, but now in 3:4-5 Satan unleashes his beastly self. Moses records, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! 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’” (3:4-5). In the first question (3:1b), Satan tiptoed up to Eve on her blindside, but now he steamrolls over her on the broadside with a bald-faced lie. The Hebrew places the word lo (“not”) in front of God’s declaration: “Not—you shall surely die!” It’s the Serpent’s word versus God’s Word. It’s crucial to understand the “Father of Lies” (John 8:44) is so saturated with lies that he even attempts to make God out to be a liar!
Satan’s strategy began rather innocently by introducing and encouraging doubt. His strategy quickly culminates in a blatant denial of God’s Word (cf. 2:17). In denying it he imputed motives to God that were not consistent with God’s character. God’s true motive was the welfare of man, but the Serpent implied it was God’s welfare at man’s expense. This added suggestion seemed consistent with what the Serpent had already implied about God’s motives in 3:1. Having entertained a doubt concerning God’s Word, Eve was ready to accept a denial of His Word.
As 3:4 reveals, the first thing Satan wants to deny is the doctrine of God’s judgment. He denies the penalty for sin. He says in effect, “You won’t reap what you sow.” Here is the lie that has allured the human race from the beginning: There is no punishment for disobedience. But the Bible again and again makes it clear that no one can get away with sin. It is imperative that we recognize there are consequences for sinful actions.
To make this direct contradiction of God’s Word seems reasonable; Satan invents a false motive for God. God, he says, has really invented a nonexistent penalty to keep you in your place. He is afraid you will rise to His level. If you knew as much as God knows, you would become a threat to Him. Eve’s response is fatal. She divorces her God-given reason from God’s Word and relies on her own limited experience.
This constitutes the great sin of man: to live independently of God. That is the root of sin. It is interesting to note that what the Serpent said about Eve’s being as God was a half-truth. Adam and Eve did not die immediately, and their eyes were opened. Ironically, she was already as God, having been made in His image (1:26). She did become like God in that she obtained a greater knowledge of good and evil by eating of the tree. However, she became less like God because she was no longer innocent of sin. Her relationship with God suffered. Though she remained like God she could no longer be with Him. The consequent separation from God is the essence of death (2:17).
The first doctrine Satan denied in Scripture was that sin results in death (separation from God), or we could say, the doctrine that God will not punish sin. This is still the truth he tries hardest to get people to disbelieve.
Also interesting to note is that the Serpent only speaks twice (3:1b, 4-5). That’s all the talk that was needed to plunge man downward into the spiral of sin. The success of the Serpent can be attributed to his cunning ability to question the goodness of God. The central theme of Genesis 1-2: God will provide the “good” for human beings if they will only trust Him and obey Him, is challenged by the Serpent. He cleverly suggests that God is indeed keeping “good” from His creation. The Serpent’s claim directly contradicted the main point of Genesis 1 and 2, namely, that God would provide what is good for man.
4. The Man and Woman’s Sin (3:6-7). In 3:6a: “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, she took from its fruit and ate.” In 3:1-5, the Serpent initiated the first two steps. But in 3:6, he let Eve’s natural desires carry her into his trap. James countered this argument 2,000 years ago when he wrote, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust” (Jas 1:14).
Eve’s basic needs and desires fell into three categories that share parallels with 1 John 2:15-17.
|Human Need||Genesis 3:6 Temptations||1 John 2:15-17 Parallel|
|Physical||“Good for food”||The lust of the flesh|
|Emotional||“Delight to the eyes”||The lust of the eyes|
|Intellectual||“Desirable to make one wise”||The boastful pride of life|
The next phrase is absolutely devastating: “and she [Eve] gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (3:6b). Not only did Eve sin, but in her distorted thinking and her false sense of accomplishment, she also gave the fruit to her husband. When Eve brought the fruit to Adam, she was acting contrary to the “helper” principle (cf. 2:18). Instead of benefiting and aiding Adam, she is contributing to his downfall. She is actually inviting him and pressuring him to accept that which is contrary to divine viewpoint.
What sin have you invited a loved one to talk you into committing? Disobedience of God’s Word almost always affects someone else. Most tragically, it affects those we love the most. Eve’s disobedience affected her husband, her children, her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, and every descendant since. The problem of sin doesn’t stop with the choice. Choosing to sin leads to consequences.
The word “with” is what is so devastating about this verse. Adam was with Eve while this tempting dialogue with the Serpent was going on. Sadly, Adam did not say a word and then he sinned willfully by eating of the fruit. Make no doubt about it; although the woman was deceived, the man was not. Adam passively watched everything. He sinned willfully, eyes wide-open, without hesitation. His sin was freighted with sinful, self-interest. He had watched Eve take the fruit, and nothing happened to her. He sinned willfully, assuming there would be no consequences. Everything was upside-down. Eve followed the snake, Adam followed Eve, and no one followed God.
In this biblical account, the man chooses to obey his wife rather than God (cf. 3:17). Adam rejected his relationship with God and embraced Eve. He said no to the Creator of all his blessings, and said, “Yes,” to a created one. He turned down the divine design of Gen 1:28 and turned it over to Satan.
Our passage closes in 3:7 with these tragic words: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”
The moment Adam and Eve sinned, they received the knowledge of good and evil. As a result, they “knew that they were naked.” Their nakedness was beautiful…but when sin entered the world, nakedness became shameful outside of the marriage relationship (cf. 2:25).
- Satan attacks the family. He didn’t concern himself with Adam until he was married.
- Satan attacks new believers and those that aren’t in relationships with other believers. They are usually easy prey.
- Satan attacks when you least expect it. He loves the element of surprise. When you are at ease, relaxed, off guard, or secure, watch out! Eve was in a perfect environment, without a care in the world, when Satan attacked.
- Satan attacks our trust in God.
- Satan poisons truth with lies.
- Satan appeals to our pride.
- Satan makes promises that won’t be kept.
- Realize your vulnerability.
- Strengthen your weakness. Beware of sowing “wild oats” and then praying for a “crop failure”!
- Deepen your faith.
- Know and utilize God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15). “It is written” (Matt 4). Ignorance or disregard of God’s Word makes one very vulnerable to temptation (Ps 119:11).
- Stand strong. Refuse to yield (Eph 6:10).
- Resist Satan (Jas 4:7; 1 Pet 5:8-9).
- Trust in God’s provision (Ps 16:11). Express gratitude to Him for all that He has done for you.