Choose who you “talk” with and “listen” to wisely.
REVIEW chapters 1 and 2
A new character arrives on the scene: the serpent. And he’s not good. So far God had created everything “good” and “very good”. The earth was good for man and man was good for earth. The man was good for the animals. The woman was good for the man. But the serpent is not a bringer of “good”.
The animal is a serpent. Isn’t it interesting how snakes and serpents and dragons have all become symbols of wisdom in so many cultures around the world throughout history? [List several examples]
Was this a real serpent? Yes. This was all real. It was all just like the text says. You do yourself a favor ignoring the “Genesis-isn’t-history” crowd.
Did God make the serpent to be able to talk? No. This serpent was Satan, the Devil. Either Satan possessed an actual snake that God had made along with all the other beasts of the field, or, somehow he manifested himself as a snake.
Before you scoff at that, consider that spiritual beings manifest in this physical world all the time according to the Bible. God manifests as angels, burning bushes, a cloud, a fiery pillar, a man. Angels manifest too – “Do not forget to entertain strangers – for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb 13:2). And if you have a hard time with the idea that an angel can talk through an animal remember that a donkey was enabled to speak to the prophet Balaam (Numb 22-24).
We underestimate the invisible spiritual realm when we think it is like this physical one we live in.
So this serpent is Satan. Throughout Scripture Satan is referred to as a serpent. Second Corinthians 11:3 says, “….” and Revelation 12:9 says, “….”
Who is Satan? Jesus summed up the character and career of Satan in John 8:44 when he said, “[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in Him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan is a liar, a cunning and crafty liar. He uses his cunning lies to lead people away from God (Revelation 12:9; 2 Cor 11:3; Matt 4:1-11; Judas…).
He wasn’t always this way. Satan began as a guardian cherub, and the most beautiful, most powerful, and most wise creature God had ever made. Two foundational passages for understanding Satan are Isaiah 14:9-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-19.
He was Lucifer, which means “Bright Morning Star”, until he sinned, then he became Satan, and the Devil. Satan means “adversary” and Devil means “slanderer.” Satan slanders God, like right here in our passage. He slanders angels and man too. His favorite is to slander God’s people – like he did Job and like he does believers. He opposes God personally and everything God is doing. His ambition is not only to corrupt and destroy what God does, but, he opposes God in the sense that he wants to be what God is. He wants to replace God. Remember all those “I will” statements in Isaiah we read? That’s Satan with sinful ambition to transcend his position and ascend to where God is and who God is to do what God does.
Some say that this Fall of Satan happened in a previous world. We took a look at this idea in our first couple sermons in Genesis. The thought is that prior to human history there was an age of angels on a previous epoch, in a previous heavens and earth before the ones we live in now. In that age after Satan’s rebellion God destroyed those heavens and earth. That world was left in its destroyed, chaotic state until Genesis 1:2 picks up where God starts to “remake” those materials into the present heavens and earth. This time, rather than angels, he creates humans. If that view is true, then Satan’s fall happened prior to Day 1 in Genesis,
For now, since the Fall here in Genesis 3, this world is in his hands. He is the “prince of this age” (Jn 12:31) and the “ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph 2:2). Second Corinthians 4:4 calls him “the god of this age” and 1 John 5:19 says “the whole world is under the control of the evil one”.
Until Jesus returns Satan attacks nations – he “deceives the nations and leads them astray” (Rev 12:9). He attacks the Church by sending his demonic and human ambassadors to corrupt their faith with false teaching and immorality (2 Cor. 11:14-15). He attacks the individual as he “prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet 5:8). He lies, steals and kills. He is the Antichrist behind the Antichrist, he is the worker of iniquity and deception. He is the Violent one behind all violence against God’s people. He will be locked in the Abyss for 1,000 years. Then his final, permanent end will be the lake of fire.
We note in Genesis 3:1 that it says Satan is “crafty”. Its a word that means “shrewd” or “cunning” or “subtle” or “prudent”. It can be used positively, or negatively. It’s the idea that someone has skills to deal with situations, almost like they have a knack for creatively & impressively working things out towards their own ends – either good or bad ends. Satan is crafty in an evil sense, like 2 Corinthians 11:3 said, “Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning…” and Revelation 12 and 20 when it says he “leads the whole world astray” and “deceives the nations” of the world.
Being crafty is his craft. He applies his craft here in Genesis 3 with the brand new man and woman. These 6 verses are critically important for understanding so much about our world, our enemy, his tactics, the nature of temptation, the nature of sin and so on. There is MUCH for us here. Lets unpack it carefully.
I see four stages in his strategy: 1) Dialogue, 2) Doubt, 3) Deny, 4) Disobedience.
#1: DIALOGUE (1)
First notice he engages her in dialogue. They’re talking together. You almost get the sense that they weren’t just introduced to each other in this passage. They’re talking and you almost feel they’re familiar with each other. And maybe they had been talking a little while before they got the topic of the forbidden tree. Can’t you imagine the serpent and Adam and Eve walking along in conversation in the Garden, all the while Satan is charming and erudite, all the while he’s secretly leading them to the forbidden tree?
They dialogue. This point is important because false teachers and teachings typically come in through “friendly” people. People who are very likeable.
What you must see here in this moment is that Satan does not FORCE her to take the fruit. She is in no way coerced or pressured. She is not pushed or pulled into sin. She is enticed. She is lured.
A couple years ago our family saw an aunt at a funeral. She is an aunt we don’t see much at all. She fell in love with Levi the moment she saw him – and thought he was so cute. He was about 3 or 4 years old at the time. This aunt has a hilarious sense of humor and she said she wanted to take him home with her to be hers. Her plan she said was to lay a trail of skittles down that led up into her car. Like a puppy, little mister dimple would certainly have gobbled up the trail, the door would have slammed and off Auntie would go with her prize. And he would have sat there with a smile munching on his candy
Please do NOT misunderstand me: I am NOT saying we should not dialogue with people who disagree with us. I am NOT saying that anyone should simply believe what they’re told to believe without asking questions or trying to understand if their beliefs are valid. Truth proves itself. If you honestly care about truth you will find it. Jesus, “the Truth”, said anyone who sought Him would find Him, and anyone who came to Him, He would never turn away.
I want you to understand that Satan’s strategy however is to disarm people through friendly dialogue, through conversation where your confidence in the other person isn’t shaken.
Remember: Likeability does not mean theological and spiritual reliability.
Satan wants to talk about God and the Bible. But his aim is NOT to get to the truth. It is to get you away from the truth and away from obeying God.
Now there are only two humans on the planet at this point. Both of them are together. Adam was not off somewhere with animals. But the text says specifically that Satan engaged Eve. That’s important. Why? Well, I don’t think its necessarily because as a woman she is more vulnerable to deception. Maybe, but, maybe not. I sure see a lot of men out there vulnerable to lies. Men aren’t exactly proving their ability to “see” the truth much better than women.
I think he chose Eve, however, because there was a way in which she was vulnerable. Adam heard the command from God directly. Eve, however, didn’t. There is very good reason to believe that she heard the command from Adam. In chapter 2 we saw that God gave the command before Eve was created. Adam most likely was the one who “taught” Eve what God said.
So why does that matter? Well, if you were Satan and had to pick which one to engage, wouldn’t you pick the one that didn’t hear it from God personally? If you had to “bet” on who was more likely to doubt God, wouldn’t you put your money on the woman since she never actually heard God? It really makes you see just how strategic his question to her is: “Did God really say?” She didn’t actually hear God say it.
Application: Choose who you “talk” with and “listen” to wisely. Bad company corrupts good character. (1 Cor 15:33) “Who cut in on you and is throwing you into confusion?” (Gal 5:7) “And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.” (2 Cor 11:12). “They will not put up with sound doctrine, but will surround themselves…” (2 Tim 4). Who you choose to listen to will greatly shape how you think.
Think about it: it was Eve who put the fruit in her hand, but, it was Satan who put the fruit in her head. The battle is always in the mind. “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom 12:2). “Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
Application: Know what you’re really convicted of. Eve and Adam knew the command, but, was there any real conviction that the command was fair, right and good?