God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, "To dress the garden and to keep it" (Gen. 2:15). He told them, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but ot 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). It is significant that the first problem in what should have been man's happy abode was caused by a question mark after God's warning.
Satan asked Eve, "Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?" (Gen. 3:1). This question sought to discredit God's Word and create doubt in the heart of His child. But, if Satan is to have his way, God's Word must first be taken out of the way by some means. If he can undermine their faith in the Word of God, then Satan can control them. He knew that. And he still knows the same truth with regard to us.
If Eve can be made to forget, or just to disbelieve, what God has said, then she will be ripe for the temptation which Satan has in store. And if she yields, there is not much question what Adam will do. Satan won't even have to use the same tactics on him, for the woman's request will be enough to captivate hsi pliable soul. And who can better persuade Adam than the wife of his bosom? So Satan tackles Eve first.
SATAN'S BASIC PLAN: -- Satan's plan was laid well, and his first attack was intended to sweep away the only barrier to sin: "Hath God said?" He knew what God has said, but he did not attack that word directly. That would have been too crude, Satan was too subtle for that (Gen. 3:1). He asks, "Hath God said?" as though he were saying, "Did God really tell you that? How could He have said that, when it is clear that you are too intelligent to believe such a thing!" The implication of Satan is that God wanted to limit the freedom of Adam and Eve, keep them ignorant and limit their enjoyment, as well.
Finally, leaving all of the inuendoes and subterfuge, Satan got aroung to flat-out denying what God had said. "Ye shall not surely die" (Gen. 3:4). We don't have all of the conversation, but Satan could have said something like this: "God was talking to you as to a little child. He knows that if you are strong enough, you will be as a god, yourself, and able to defy His tyranical authority that keeps you in bondage through superstition and fear. He knows that if you eat of this fruit, you will have knowledge and power and be able to enjoy all of the pleasures of the world."
That sounds very much like what Satan is still saying to people today, doesn't it? Assert yourself, eat of this luscious fruit and enjoy it. Join the modern world, express your own personality, defy tradition, flout superstition. Eve knew what God had said, but she was persuaded by Satan: "And 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat" (Gen. 3:6). So our first father and mother fell victims to Satan's false reasoning, and thus brought untold misery and problems to all of us.
NOW, WHAT IS MAN'S CONDITION?: -- The very next scene in Gen. 3 reveals man's consciusness of his guilt, ashamed and hiding from God, and God asks, "Where art thou?" (Gen. 3:9). Adam and Eve now recognized that they had been misled by Satan, that they had disobeyed God. Eve said, "The serpent beguiled me" (Gen. 3:13). She was deceived, but that was no excuse, she was still guilty of sin. Adam and Eve did not enjoy their promised freedom, nor did they really benefit from their "newly-found knowledge." Both Adam and Eve were now sinners, they had broken God's law, as as such were no longer fit to live in the presence of God. So God drove them out of the garden. And that principle has not changed. As God said to Israel later, "Behold, Jehovah's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1,2).
Adam and Eve could not justify what they had done, nor could they deliver themselves from the predicament they had caused. Eve tried to place the blame on Satan. Adam tried to place the blame on both God and woman, "And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat" (Gen. 3:12). But it didn't work. They were both sinners. From that day until now, sinful men and women have tried to place the blame for their sins on someone else. But it still doesn't work.
"THE SERPENT BEGUILED ME": -- Poor Eve could not deny the charge of God nor that of Adam. So she simply says, "The serpent beguiled me" (Gen. 3:13). The word "beguile," means: "To mislead by cheating or lying, to deceive." Jesus said later to some servants of the devil, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth 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 thereof" (Jno. 8:44).
When she was driven out of the Garden of Eden, Eve must have finally realized just how monstrous was the lie she had believed. Out into a cruel and bloody world to fight and struggle and toil for their very existence, Adam and Eve would grow old and decrepit and stumble into the grave and return to dust: "For dust thou are, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:19).
The apostle Paul, writing of the death and resurrection of Jesus on our behalf, wrote: "For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:21,22). Hundreds of generations have been born and buried since the first sin in Eden, and the consequences have passed to all men. The Word of God has been calling to His children throughout all the ages, and He has offered His mercy through Jesus Christ. But Satan is still preaching his falsehoods, and poor, sinful, vain mortals still lend their ears to his honey-coated tones.
SATAN HAS NOT CHANGED: -- Satan still uses the same methods which he used with Adam and Eve. "The old serpent he that is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world" (Rev. 12:9). Satan attacks now just as he did in the Garden of Eden. The devil's first move is to question the Word of God, then he puts doubt in the heart, denies there is any real punishment for sin and maybe even denies there is any sin. Satan still flatters man by appealing to his intellect, and urges him to demand freedom and independence to do what he wants to do. Next, Satan pictures the pleasures of sin and points to the enjoyable path that leads to the (beguiled) vision of worldly delights.
The apostle Paul wrote, "That no advantage may be gained over us by Satan: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11). Satan tries to destroy faith and trust in God by his falsehoods and deception -- then destroys souls through the unbelief he creates. Whether the devil is dealing with a dizzy daughter of Eve or the egotistical and lustful son of Adam, he uses the same methods of attacks as he did in Eden. Whether his plea comes though the scholarly and sedate boastings of a doctor of philosophy or the fulsome flattery of a sexual siren, that temptation is directed at the same vital weakness in the human heart.
When man listens to Satan, then comes sin, suffering and spiritual suicide -- followed by broken homes, wrecked Edens divorces, drunkenness, death and condemnation. But God is still calling out to us: "Where art thou?" He sent His Son into the world to die for us (Jno. 3:16), and assures us, "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). You see, Jesus, by His death on the cross has nullified all that Satan has done, or can do, to you: "If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (Jno. 8:36).
That is why we read later, "Since then the children are sharers in flesh and blood, He also Himself in like manner partook of the same; that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb. 2:14,15). If you are "in Christ," then Satan cannot hurt you, "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1). When your sin is gone, Satan's power is gone. So, put your trust in Jesus, be baptized "into Christ" (Rom. 6:3-6) and live for Him.
By Clem Thurman in Gospel Minutes, Vol. 56, No. 30, July 27, 2007.
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