Out of the Garden, part six

Last week we looked at the way the serpent tempted Eve in the garden, and today I want to pick up in the very next verse. Just to remind you, after the serpent cleverly turned God’s clear explanation about what tree not to eat from into an open conversation, here’s what he said to Eve.

Genesis 3:4-5 “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.”

The serpent calls into question the integrity and motive of God, and unfortunately, Eve gives in.

Genesis 3:6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

I’d love to criticize just how weak-willed Eve was and just how quickly she fell into sin, but the fact is that we’ve all had moments where we were every bit as quick to give in to temptation as she was here. It’s fascinating and helpful to us to study the exact reasons why Eve was so easily tempted. Let’s break this down.

“She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious.” Sin almost always looks beautiful and delicious from the outside, doesn’t it? It’s enticing, in the modern day usually heralded with neon signs and bright colors, there’s just something about the way sin gets dressed up and presented that makes it look appealing. I don’t drink alcohol, but anytime I’m in a restaurant that has a bar I find myself mesmerized by the bright colors of the alcohol shelves. These cool looking bottles and amazingly vibrant colors, surely what’s inside is delicious and amazing, right?

Sin gets so dressed up because outward appearance is all it has. Once you give in and experience it, you know that the thing that appeared to be good actually wasn’t after all. This may sound cynical, but in my life, I’ve grown skeptical of anything that looks too good that isn’t directly of God. If something looks on the outside to be wonderful and amazing and I can’t directly connect it back to God, I usually will pause for a moment and pray about it. I only want what comes directly from God, too often the “blessings” of the world come with unforeseen strings attached to them. I’m not advocating that we be paranoid or anything like that, but I think it’s important to examine everything and take a close look before we indulge in things, especially knowing what we know about how good sin looks from a distance.

Here’s the second reason Eve fell to temptation. “and she wanted the wisdom it would give her.” We are not always proud of it, but a lot of times we want the thing that we THINK sin will give to us. People seek a cure for loneliness in one night stands while others seek escape from their problems through drugs and alcohol. The broken part of us often wants the perceived rewards that sin can bring. The reason that the devil is so successful at playing off of this is that he gets us to believe the lie first. This activity will help you. You’ll find fulfillment here, or escape, or whatever it is that you are in need of. Eve was told a lie, that the fruit of the tree would make her wise like God. And again, just like my last point, I feel like we need to build a pause into our lives where we closely examine things. When we hear that quiet statement that tells us the benefit of whatever activity/situation is in front of us, we need to know for a fact that it’s the God of heaven and not the master of hell who’s behind the words.

On Saturday, I wanted to disconnect and spend a day away from everyone. Before I did it, I prayed, because I wanted to have a clear understanding of my motivation. Was I isolating myself because I wanted to reboot and have some quiet time with God? Or was I doing it because I was feeling a little down and didn’t want to be around anyone? I’ve used isolation for both purposes in the past, and one is healthy and the other is not. Everything we do has reasoning attached to it. Eve ate the fruit because she wanted the wisdom it would give her. That’s flawed reasoning. She had every bit of evidence needed to fight that thought away and say “I don’t know you serpent, but I do know God, and He’s the one that sets the boundaries on what I can and cannot eat.”

When a desire strikes we need to get serious about figuring out the motivation. Desires can be good, but temptation always refers to the enticement to commit evil. I desire to serve God every day of my life yet I am tempted to give up on my responsibilities and go do whatever it is that I want to do. Is this a desire or a temptation? Is the perceived benefit of this action/situation real or is it a lie from the enemy? When we add in that little pause, we give space for our spirit to get involved with the discussion that our flesh is having. Doing so will save us from a lot of poor decisions.

Both of the reasons that Eve had for giving into the temptation can be counteracted by us being more alert. Peter sums it up beautifully in the New Testament.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

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There’s one last thing I want to touch upon before wrapping up today.

Genesis 3:6 The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.

Look at that last sentence. She gave some to her husband. Sin rarely stays with just us. Just like wildfire, sin spreads in the blink of an eye. Even sin that we think is hidden, it always comes out. It comes out in our attitudes, in our speech, and that in turn affects those around us. Jesus has some strong words for those of us who lead others into temptation.  

Luke 17:1-2 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! 2 It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.

It’s one of the heaviest things Jesus says, in my opinion. You’re better off being drowned in the sea than to cause someone else to sin. Eve’s not responsible for Adam’s decision to eat the fruit, but she is responsible for introducing the temptation. Be very mindful of your sin, because it can and will splash over and dirty up those who are around you. Jesus says you’re better off dead than leading someone else into temptation. That’s just another very good reason for us to take these lessons from Genesis to heart and learn to defeat the temptations that come against us.
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Alright, that’s it for today. I love all of you and I hope your week is off to a fantastic start. If you have any prayer needs or just need someone to talk to, please feel free to email me at freejenkins@gmail.com.

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