By Will Whyte

Read Part 1 here...

We left off reflecting on how the enemies questioning of God, especially of his work in the world and with his people, can pave the way, if we allow it, for us to accuse God of not being good and trustworthy. Here, we will continue to explore this original dialogue and we will notice that the enemy has no new tricks.

We last heard Eve’s response in Genesis 3:2–3 in which she fed off the serpent’s seed of doubt and began making God out to be unreasonable and restrictive in his care and provision. After her response the Serpent makes another statement, which appears to make God out to be a liar!

In Genesis 3:4 the serpent exclaims

“You will not surely drop dead!”

Now here is where the serpent’s tactics can be clearly seen, and this is often where we humans fall prey to his tactics. The serpent is not actually refuting what God said. Remember, God’s original command warned them that they would “be doomed to die,” as in if they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would open themselves up to the realty of death. This distinction is not made in English translations, but in Hebrew it is clear that the serpent is not actually refuting God’s original warning but is rather refuting Eve’s interpretation of that warning. Let’s take a look…

Genesis 2:17 “… you will be doomed to death.” (Literally: “surely you will die”)

Genesis 3:3 “…lest you drop dead” (literally: “lest you die”)

Genesis 3:4 “…You will not drop dead” (Literally: “you won’t certainly die” as in right now)

This serpent was originally called “more-crafty than any other animal,” and indeed he is showcasing that at this moment. God said that in eating the fruit the humans would eventually die. Eve, in her interpretation and explanation to the serpent says that God said, “they would die,” as in right then and there. The serpent then refutes Eve’s claim. The serpent assures Eve that death is not as imminent a threat as she originally perceived, BUT, the serpent never actually says that the humans will not eventually die, in fact the serpent knows they will still die if they eat the fruit. After this clever twisting of interpretations the serpent then goes for his final attack. He portrays God as having hidden motives when he asserts in Genesis 3:5 that…    

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil”

In the serpent’s eyes not only is God unreasonable and restrictive, but he is now also

hiding something from the humans. Through his questioning the serpent gets the humans convinced that God cannot be trusted and is actually keeping something from them – their supposed godly status. Eve is then drawn to the fruit, Genesis 3:6 says…

“she saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye…and desirable for gaining wisdom, she took its fruit and ate…”

This is where the sin of pride comes into the scenario. The humans wanted to be like God, they wanted to be “in the know,” they wanted to be in control. But why? Pride did not just suddenly arise within them. They wanted to know, control, and rule because the serpent had talked them into doubting that God was good, he was not trustworthy and was hiding something from them. The serpent fed on the human lack of understanding. He fed that small seed of doubt, uncertainty and frustration. He nurtured it until it grew into a mighty plant of accusation. And if God is not good and cannot be trusted, then who is left but ourselves—PRIDE!

The original sin is mistrust. The original sin began by believing a lie about God. Once our trust in God is broken, we turn to everything else, or worse, ourselves. G. K. Chesterton said, 

“When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

Jesus said that, “…in me you will have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Paul reminds us that, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The enemy often preys on our doubts and frustrations. He seizes those moments, those thoughts, and begins to tempt us to look at our present circumstances and blame God for them as if God is punishing us. If God is so good then why this, why that, etc. etc. The enemy is a master at taking advantage of our lack of understanding and using it against us. The prophet Hosea said, “My people perish because of a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) 

In this season we must remember that we will all experience trouble, the world will not be perfect, there will be sickness, death, deceit and the like, but God has overcome the world and we can experience peace in Christ. Temptation will constantly pursue, and that is common, but that is not God punishing us. In moments when it seems like God is not moving or working the temptation comes to make something happen ourselves, to take control, or to try something else. It is the old “This Christianity thing isn’t working for me right now I’m gonna go try something else,” or “I don’t need God, I can do life on my own.” The Bible, from beginning to end, is a story that details why that response is not the answer.

Maybe for some of us, this season of quarantine has provided time to sit, reflect, and get honest with God. Or maybe, we are trying our best to avoid those moments. Maybe somewhere along the line we have allowed the enemy to keep feeding us his cynical twisted views on God and we have allowed them to seep into our souls and grow. Maybe somewhere along the line we got sick of waiting and trusting God’s work and God’s timing and tried to make things happen for ourselves, and maybe those actions made things worse. 

God is good. He provided and will provide. Life is not fun right now. We are living in uncertain times with a lot of anxiety and worry. But when the enemy whispers we must respond with the truth of God’s character, of what he said in the past. We must know our scriptures and we must trust God and not ourselves.

Stay tuned for Part 3...