Genesis 3 Paradise Lost

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”

 

Now I have heard or read this story more times than I can count.  I remember in my dentist office growing up, in the waiting room was a Bible story book with pictures.  I’m sure the picture in my head when I read this story is pretty close to the picture in that book.  Here’s Eve, casually and yet suspiciously near the center of the garden, right by a beautiful, fruit-laden tree with a snake wrapped around a branch, within conversation distance from Eve.  And so the story goes:  snake talks, girl eats, BAM! Best Day EVER is OVER!!!

So easy for me to take this Word of God and boil it down to the image in my head from the book in the dentist office.

But you know what I REALLY want to know?  In an adult, use your brain sort of way?

WHO is this serpent?  Oh, he’s the E.N.E.M.Y., he who is not to be named, you know? SATAN!  But where did he come from???  Have you ever wondered that?

If you have gone to Bible School you surely know that answer to this question.  But there may be some here, like me, who only have the Bible Story picture book image.

It clearly says here that the serpent is a “beast of the field that the Lord God had made.”  I get a little confused here, If everything that Lord made was good, (which we learned about in lesson 1, 2, 3, and 4) how could this serpent, this creation of God, be crafty, cunning, deceitful, so anti-God?

Side note: if you come across something you don’t understand, dig a little.  I happen to have a Seminary Graduate Husband’s books on the shelf at home.  You can use the internet (watch for reliable resources), ask a Pastor or your local Seminary Professor like I did.  Todd Miles sent me about 15 pages of his lecture notes from his Theology class that I plowed through, deciphered into my own language, looked up the verses, and came up with a much clearer picture of the enemy than a snake wrapped around a tree branch with it’s slithery tongue sticking out.

Here is what I learned about Satan:

The devil, a high angelic creature, was created by God as wholly good, because all that God creates and does is wholly good (Gen. 1:31, James 1:17).  At some point he rebelled against the Creator and became the chief antagonist of God and man.  He also drew with him a great multitude of lesser celestial creatures, making him the “Evil One” of “the tempter.”

God is infinite, unchangeable and incorruptible goodness.  His created goodness is finite, changeable, and corruptible.  Since Satan before his fall, was finite, he lacked much. He wasn’t God.  No matter how glorious he may have been, he had limitations.  Being limited he could see things (but only good things) that he did not possess and he could desire them.  In wanting what was not his (similar to Eve in the garden) he could bring about evil by misusing the good that was before him. He could disobey God, and did. He was thrown out of heaven to earth and is now ruler of the present evil world system.

Some of the other names given to him in scripture are:

accuser of the brethren, our adversary the devil, a murderer, the dragon,

the power of darkness, the prince of this world, the evil one, the wicked one, the god of this world.

Satan is NOT a friend of God!

There is so much more to say. not now.

Why was this a valuable bit of theology for me to understand? Because if I see Satan for real, not just some picture in my head, like a slithery snake or a guy in red pajamas with a pitch-fork in his hand, but for who Scripture says he is, actively seeking to build his kingdom.  Intent to mess with me, stumble me, get my eyes off the Lord in any which way he can, this is helpful for recognizing and remembering that there IS AN ENEMY! And his entire agenda is to cause me to serve and worship him and not God the Creator!

Well, let’s see how this enemy interacted with Eve, the mother of all living.  We see in Genesis 3 a pattern that is introduced here but continues to this very day to be repeated again and again in the the behavior of both Satan and mankind.

Gen. 3:1b  “He (the serpent) said to the woman,  “Did God actually say “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”

Immediately we see the craftiness of this beast.  Engages Eve with a rather ridiculous question, to bait her to engage in an ongoing conversation designed to destroy her trust in her good heavenly Father. I like how Derek Kidner puts it, “The tempter begins with suggestion rather than argument…it is both disturbing and flattering:  it smuggles in the assumption that God’s word is subject to our judgement.”

Gladys Hunt says this about the situation, “Satan is very clever.  Always his strategy is to confuse reality, to make evil seem good.  He knows Eve is living in all the splendor of Eden. with all of her needs met.  How do you get at someone who is contented with good?”

“The serpent has a plan,  He approaches the woman with a theological discussion about God.  That is a safe subject, she likes to talk about God.  The serpent queries, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The serpent makes an overstatement that he allows Eve to correct, but in doing so he makes her aware of a restrictionGod is keeping something from her.”

The seed of doubt is planted in Eve’s mind and it festers there.

Now, why do you think that the enemy went to Eve and not to Adam first?  Could it be that Eve didn’t get God’s command first hand, directly from God?  It appears that this command about the tree was given before Eve was created, so it is quite possible that Eve had 2nd hand knowledge of the truth.  And Satan, being ever so crafty, would have chosen his target carefully and strategically.

As it turns out, Eve takes the bait, and answers Satan’s question with her own overstatement of what God said, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”  Eve ever so slightly distorts the truth, but truth altered ceases to be truth.

 

Scripture gives us many names for Satan.  In John 8:44, Jesus says of him, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  A Lie is constructed to take your eyes off of the Father and the truth, and to get your eyes on you.

And Satan’s next move is a lie, a direct contradiction of God’s Word.

Verse 4 – “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”

Eve’s attention is now riveted to the tree – not the garden full of goodness, not God’s gracious fellowship and provision.  Just the tree.”

It looks good and tasty, it’s pretty, and this serpent says it will make her wise.  Wisdom is good.  Who doesn’t want to be wise?  The more she looks, the more appealing it becomes.

Isn’t that the way that Satan works?  He gets us to concentrate on the thing, even the good thing, instead of on God?  Temptation is when sin appears more attractive than obedience.  Knowing good and evil, becoming wise, isn’t a bad thing.  That’s a really good thing. But God asks for obedience.  And He asks us to trust Him enough to follow His words and ways.

But Eve listened to the lies of the serpent and took the fruit…

And ate..

and Adam ate…

and their eyes were opened…       but not in the way they expected.

In this account of this fateful choice of Adam and Eve we see a process that happens again and again throughout history.

The deceiver skillfully deceives.

He crafts a lie and we entertain it, try it on for size, eventually buy into it, believe it to be true.  We engage the lie.

Which leads to fear:  For Eve, something better than she had was available, she was missing out on something.

Which leads to shame:  after acting out in grasping the lie, Adam and Eve’s “eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and make themselves loincloths.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

They became fully aware that they had stepped outside of God’s boundaries,  and there was shame.

Is this just a story for us?  Was this a one time act for Satan?

Or does any of this sound familiar to you?  Does anyone here relate to a pattern of lies, fear and shame in your own life?

What might a lie be?   People don’t like you.  You’re not as pretty as the other girls.

Fear:  I will never be loved.

Shame:  You don’t amount to anything,  You are worthless.  You can’t do anything right.

Let me show you how this works on me.  I’ve been thinking about this for the past few weeks, in anticipation of teaching today.  I’ve been burdened with the weightiness, the grave responsibility  of teaching women.  I was thinking about the lies, and how I have bought them over and over again, how I have been buried in shame, struggled with feelings of inadequacy, less-than, never good enough.  But here I was, working out this message and riding pretty high, not thinking any of that, and even wondering why not.  Wouldn’t the enemy want to defeat me in this time of speaking out about him? revealing verbally his destructive agenda and untrustworthy character?

And I was just about done, closing down the computer for the night and then it happened…

I thought I saved my working document…

I thought I replaced the existing file with the new, almost complete one…

and at about 11:30pm I had one more thought to add and I tried to reopen the document, and all that was there was a few scribbled notes that I started the day with.

Tried to recall it, got my husband out of bed, had the techno wizard son give it a try, as I sank deeper and deeper into despair.  I tried to pray, pretty certain that it would pop up at any moment and all would be saved and I could go to bed.  But it didn’t, and I realized I would need to reconstruct the entire thing.  You have to understand that this was not easy for me in the first place.  And I thought i had finally gotten something worth speaking about down on paper…, and it was all gone…, and I was tired, and needed sleep.

As I stared at the blank screen, I found myself spiraling down into the very place the enemy wanted me, a pit of despair, unable to put a sentence together, let alone an intelligent thought.  And you know what I thought?  Not, “Oh what a huge bummer!  Well, you better get started and rewrite that thing.”

No, I’m thinking, “You are a loser. What made you think you could even do this in the first place?  You should go crawl in a hole.  You can’t even save a document correctly.”  I was very defeated!

Lies! and I was buying it.

Fear:  You can’t do this, It will be embarrassing to show up on THursday morning with NOTHING!  You will be found out to be an empty fraud.

Shame:  You are worthless.  You don’t deserve to know this group of wonderful, intelligent, beautiful women.  You should go crawl in a hole.

But an amazing thing happened.  Because I had this truth in my head.  I had just been saturated in the truth that we DO have an enemy, he is actively pursuing his kingdom, and he HATES God because he is NOT GOD!

I realized that of course this should happen, Satan wins when I get my eyes off of God, the Father and the truth, and on to me.

We do live in a fallen world with an active, very present enemy.  1 Peter 5:8 says, “be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a  roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him!”

I said, “Aha!!!” close call evil one! Almost had me!  Just about took me out at the knees!  And just like that, I popped out of it.  Keep calm and carry on.  Right?  WRONG!  I spent the next 20 minutes in a battle.  I was helpless at the hands of a crafty, cunning enemy of God.  I needed help outside of myself.  I needed a victor!

“But” as 1 Corinthians 15:57 says, “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”!!!

Where does Christ come into the picture?  Right here in Genesis 3.  In verses 14,15 the enemy receives his sentence for this heinous crime of deceiving mankind into disobeying God.  Here we see the first glimmer of the Gospel; there will be a serpent crusher!  In 1 Corinthians 15, which you looked at in your homework, we are told that that serpent crusher is Jesus Christ!

Verse 25:  “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”

PRAISE GOD for the serpent crusher!!  We have victory over the evil one through Jesus Christ.

 

I was humbled, and I praised God for His goodness and mercy and grace, and His ultimate victory over the accuser, the evil one!

I didn’t get much sleep, I had to work double-time, and this may not be the stellar message I hoped it would be, but that’s OK, because in the really big picture, God wins, and I choose to believe HIM and expose the deceiver.

Christ himself did this very thing, and gave us model for combating the enemy. In Matt. 4 we read about the temptation of Jesus. 3 times Satan tried to lure Christ into turning his back on God and follow him.  3 times Christ countered Satan’s very attractive suggestions with Truth straight from the Word of God.

That brought to mind this worksheet from Kerri Kenyon, who taught on this a few years ago here at a women’s weekend.

Here is a tool to help work through the process of identifying and facing down the lies, fear and shame that cripple and bind you.  How do we overcome these shackles?  By laying God’s Word over the lies and claiming the Truth against them.

 

What lies are you believing?

Where do you experience shame?

How does fear play out for you?

Take this worksheet, use it. share with those around your table.

God invites us to be women living victoriously in the power of the blood of Christ!

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