As you move through the book of Genesis you come to the fall of man. This is one of those Bible moments that are so well known that I think we have a dangerous habit of dismissing it and speed-reading right past it. Yeah, yeah, serpent tempted Eve and she ate the apple and gave it to her husband and then they were ashamed and God kicked them out of the garden and sin entered into the world. Especially when you were raised in the church, Bible moments like this and Jesus walking on water and Moses parting the sea become so familiar that we forget just how profound and important they are. So this time as I studied, I made it a point to slow way down. We have been falling for the devil’s tricks and temptations for thousands of years, and something can be learned from looking at his original tactic. In the story of the fall, we get a very clear illustration of the methodology of our enemy. By understanding that, we can better protect ourselves to resist temptation.
Let’s start by what God’s command was to Adam and Eve about what trees they could and couldn’t eat from.
Genesis 2:16-17 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
The instruction couldn’t be more clear. Eat anything you want EXCEPT this one single tree. So then the serpent shows up, and let’s take a look at the method he uses to trick Eve into sinning.
Genesis 3:1-5 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” 2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” 4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. 5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
Here’s the skill of the enemy right here. He’ll take what God gave you as a command, and he’ll turn it into a question. He’ll introduce confusion into what was actually a very straightforward situation. Look at how he words his question in verse 1. “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden”? That’s the start of confusion. Eve tries to clear things up, telling him it’s just the one tree they can’t eat from, not all the trees, but you see what the serpent’s done? He’s turned this into a discussion now. God’s commandment and God’s reason for giving the commandment is now up for debate and interpretation, and the enemy strikes in verse four and five. You won’t die! God just doesn’t want you to know as much as he does!
You know what the word is for this? It’s compromise. I’ve spent some time meditating on this and it’s crazy just how often this exact scenario gets us and pulls us into sin. The enemy is crafty but his oldest tricks work just as well today as they did in the garden. He gets us to open up the debate and the conversation, and then we’ve already lost. “I know we’re not supposed to have premarital sex, but what exactly does that entail? Surely it wasn’t talking about this act and this one, maybe we could do a bit of that as long as we stop there…” and what happens next? You’ve broken God’s commandment to keep sex between a husband and a wife. All because you opened up God’s easy to understand command for discussion.
This is the story of almost every sin we commit and when you really break it down and realize that we’re letting the devil get away with the same tactic that tripped up Adam and Eve thousands and thousands of years ago it should make you a little angry. His original trick, laid bare for us to read about, study, and develop a defense against, and yet it still works. It’s that whole fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, thing. Only at this point it’s fool me twenty-six thousand times, shame on me, because we keep falling for it. If we held fast to the commandments of God and had trust that the commandments and rules and guidance of God are there for OUR benefit, then we never would’ve opened the conversation with the serpent in the first place. We’d say “God’s spoken on what I can and can’t eat and that’s how it is, serpent. Now move on and get out of my life.”
James 1:17-18 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.
Nobody knew this better than Adam and Eve. God regularly came to the garden and chilled out with them! They had an intimate relationship with Him in paradise, a place that was the ultimate representation in creation of His goodness. And they had a single rule to follow, and they allowed themselves to get pulled into a conversation about that rule. They allowed the enemy to introduce confusion into a situation that couldn’t have been more clear. This whole scripture makes me realize how quickly we can go from talking to someone to compromising about what our God actually says and who He actually is.
1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.
We are not meant to avoid questions about our faith. In fact, we’re told to ALWAYS be ready to explain it. Let’s say someone comes to me at work and says “Hey, I noticed you actually clock out for your breaks. You realize that they have no way of knowing if you just stay on the clock, right?” I should have an answer for that person. One that is gentle and respectful, as Peter reminds us.
1 Peter 3:16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
Everyone at my job knows I’m a Christian, so my response would be something like this. “I appreciate the tip, but for me I feel like the best move is to clock out for the breaks. As you know I’m a Christian, and I don’t want to do anything that goes against how the bible tells me to live. I appreciate you thinking of me, though.” To me, that was gentle, respectful, didn’t show any judgment on how they’re choosing to live, but made clear my bible based stance on the matter.
That conversation should now be over. I’ve fulfilled my biblical mandate to be ready to explain my faith, the end. But, let’s say that my co-worker comes back with this. “Oh come on man, you can’t steal time, time’s just a concept. The bible doesn’t say anything about stealing concepts, it’s talking about not stealing money and stuff.” All of a sudden, I’m in the same position that Eve was in. Even if they don’t mean to, my co-worker has now actively started to attempt to introduce confusion to one of God’s commandments for my life. They want to engage in a debate about a rock solid, set in stone aspect of God. I’m one step away from compromise. Our response in moments like these define if we fall into temptation or if we don’t. I’d hope that I’d be wise enough to say something like “Well that’s an interesting theory but I’m going to keep clocking out for breaks no matter what. Have a good day!” But far too often we do what Eve did. We get baited, and we go right for it, either because we’re naive, or because we’re prideful.
When it comes to moments like these, it’s not about proving how good we can debate, or “winning” the argument. Nothing is going to speak to the glory of God more in this moment than the action I take. Words will never compare to the things we do and the examples we set. Me consistently sticking to my beliefs and clocking out for breaks and making a slightly lower paycheck than that guy will be an ongoing testimony that my argument against him could never be.
The commands of God aren’t up for debate. Their interpretation isn’t to be found through a conversation, they are the truth of how we need to live our lives. Don’t let anyone ever introduce confusion into the commands of God. The devil has been getting away with that one for far too long, and it’s time we say no to that particular tactic. If you’re in the word, then you know how God wants you to live. Stick to the absolute truth and authority of the word, stick to your knowledge that God is good and His statutes are there for our benefit, and you will not be led astray.
I love all of you! We went a little long today, but I feel very passionate lately about avoiding temptation. Too many people are falling into the traps of the enemy and I for one am sick of seeing it happen. We need to rise up and get proactive about guarding against temptation. I hope you are all well and I’ll see you again here on Monday!
If you have a prayer request or just need someone to talk with, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.