One of the problems with being deceived is that you don’t know you have been deceived until you come out of it. The tendency for humans to be deceived came with Adam and Eve. The serpent tempted Eve saying, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” His purpose was to confuse Eve. God in fact had said the exact opposite, Gen 2:16 “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden. But there was a proviso, 2:17 ”but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Eve’s reply to the serpent shows that she had understood what God had said to her. She also understood what the punishment would be if she disobeyed God’s command, Gen 3:2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 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.'”
The serpent then added another prong to his deceptive attack on Eve. Having tempted Eve to doubt the faithfulness of God’s Word to her, he then told her a blatant lie. Gen 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Satan accused God of telling a lie and then deceived Eve by telling her that there was a reason for God doing so. He infers that God had withheld this information from her because He didn’t want Adam and Eve to be like Himself knowing good and evil. The serpent was disparaging the character of God, insinuating that God was withholding information from Adam and Eve and that He didn’t want them to be as wise as Himself.
Some truths that emerge from this story in Genesis
1). HUMAN FREE WILL MEANS THAT HUMANS CAN MAKE WRONG CHOICES
In spite of knowing what God had said and the consequences of disobedience to His word, Eve exercised her free will and made a wrong choice. Gen 3:6 “So 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 its fruit and ate.” Instead of loving and obeying God Eve chose to give in to her desires in an act of rebellion against God. This is the same attitude that John warned about in his first epistle, 1Jn 2:15-17, Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (16) For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world.
We have in Genesis 3 the same wrong desires, the desires of the eyes (3:6, and that it was a delight to the eyes), the desires of the flesh (3:6, the tree was good for food) and the pride of life (3:6, the tree was to be desired to make one wise).
Adam also misused his free will and made the wrong choice. He too knew what God had said and what the consequences would be if he disobeyed. He too chose to disobey God, 3:6, “And she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” He could have refused the fruit but he chose to eat of the forbidden fruit. He too was now accountable to God for his rebellion and sin.
2). MISUSING HUMAN FREE WILL HAS CONSEQUENCES
It is often said that all sin has consequences whether they are recognised or not. These are some of the things that happened in the Garden in the fall of humans from the grace of God.
i). An awareness of sin. 3:7, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloth”. It wasn’t the nakedness that was the problem. They had lived in nakedness before God until they succumbed to temptation. Rather it was the knowledge that God had seen into their decision to reject God’s command and had observed their subsequent actions in eating of the forbidden fruit. They now knew they could never hide anything from God. Nevertheless they tried to “cover up” their guilt in the only way they could by covering their bodies.
ii). A desire to hide from God. Gen 3:8 “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.” Humans have been trying to do that through the ages. Sometimes it has been by calling themselves “atheists” so they can think that God (whom they hope doesn’t exist) takes no notice of them because they are taking no notice of Him. Shouting out “There is no God!” doesn’t make Him cease to exist. After all what does God say about those who call themselves atheists? He says they are “fools”. Ps 14:1 “… The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (And Ps 53:1)
Or they desire to hide from God by calling themselves “agnostics” where they say that even if there is a god he can’t be known. Shouting out “God can’t be known!” as loudly as humanly possible does not make the knowable God (through the written word of God, The Bible, through the creation and especially through the living word, Jesus) unknowable. He can be known by all who want to know Him.
Or by ignoring everything to do with God or Christ or religion. Expressing no interest in spiritual things does not prevent one from standing before Jesus the Judge at the end of human history. Pleading ignorance is no ground for defence in God’s law court as He has made Himself known in His creation and pre-eminently in Jesus.
iii). Fear of the consequences of disobeying God. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” There is always fear in being found out especially when you know what the judgement is going to be.
iv). A tendency to shift the blame onto others. We look at God’s question to them. Gen 3:11 ‘He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Adam projected his guilt onto the woman. Gen 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Adam then projected his guilt onto God Himself. Gen 3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me. Adam blamed Eve. But he also blamed God for giving him the woman in the first place.
There Are 2 Major Things We See At Work Here
- An unwillingness to take responsibility for wrong choices.
Projection of guilt onto others. “Passing the buck”. Living in denial of personal guilt.
- The beginning of the use of “Victim Mentality”.
Adam saw himself as a victim of Eve’s encouragement for him to eat of the fruit. “She’s responsible, not me. Hey, I’m the victim here.”
He also saw himself as the victim of God’s action in giving him the woman who in turn tempted him. “Now listen here Lord, it was the woman who was responsible, not me! And remember it was You who gave me the woman who tempted me. So ultimately I’m not to blame. You are! I’m just the victim of what You and Eve did!”
Victim mentality has been a part of the human race since that time. It is based on the concept, “I’m not to blame. They are! ” The more one embarks on that form of rationalisation of sin, the more the victim mentality deepens and the more it clouds a sense of reality. There are thousands of people today who have no awareness of personal guilt because they have always seen themselves as the victim in every situation.
CONSEQUENCES FOR THE HUMAN RACE
The consequences came to pass for Adam and Eve, Gen 3:22 ”Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” (The consequence was spiritual and physical death and separation from God.)
The truths above are brought out in the New Testament.
Physical death. Rom 5:12-21, (12) Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned–
Condemnation by God. 5:16) And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, AND 5:18) Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.
Spiritual death. Eph 2:1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—
Separation from God. Eph 2:12, ”remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
In future articles we will look at what the Fall of Humankind in Genesis 1-3 means for life in today’s world. We will also look at the need we all have to be freed from deception and from the power of the enemy. Jesus called him, “the ruler of this world”, Satan, whilst in Rev 12:9 he is called “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world.” We will be reminded that Jesus came to set us free from the power of the devil to enable us to walk in victory in Him.
Blog No. 167. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 9th December 2015