Genesis 3 opens with the presence of an evil serpent in the garden. He is “more crafty than any other beast of the field.” Sometime between God’s pronouncement of all creation as good, and the temptation of man, was the fall of Lucifer from heaven. Ezekiel 28 describes his fall, which resulted from his desire to be God—from pride. As a created being, Lucifer was a glorious, high-ranking angel. But he was not content to be a reflector of God’s glory. He was not content to worship God. He wanted to be worshiped. And so judgment fell and he was thrown out of heaven to the earth.
In Genesis 3, we see this serpent has now moved from the field into the garden. The man who was entrusted to keep the garden is seemingly unaware that an intruder has crept in. James Hamilton writes in his excellent biblical theology, “Adam fails to keep the realm of God’s dwelling pure, allowing an unclean serpent to enter the garden. The serpent subverts the created order by tempting the woman rather than the man.”
Who is this serpent? Revelation 12:9 tells us he is “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan.”
Satan’s crafty scheme takes place in three stages:
- First, the devil casts doubt on God’s words (v. 1b). “Did God actually say…?”
- Second, Satan gets Eve to be suspicious of God’s goodness (vv. 2-3). Eve adds to the command of God, indicating she has begun to believe the lie. “The serpent is right. God is mean!” God must be holding back something good from me.” If Satan were not so cunning and deceptive, if he spoke plainly he would have just said, “God is not being good to you, Eve. He’s a meany! You need to reach out and take what God won’t give you.”
- Third, he contradicts God’s words (v. 4). As we learned last week, the one prohibition in the garden was to not eat of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Essentially, the command was for man and woman to not act as their own authority, as their own god. So, basically, Satan lures her to act independently of God and her husband.
This same serpent is doing the same to us today. He lures us away from the authority of God’s word by establishing ourselves as our own authority. This leads us away from full devotion and obedience. Satan works the same way with us. Out of deep pastoral concern, the apostle Paul expressed to the Corinthians, But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:13).
Satan delights to lead believers away from simple obedience to God’s word and delight in Christ, the Redeemer. Let us be aware of the devil’s schemes!
Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon, The Beginning of the End.]
RECOMMENDED READING: Good News About Satan: A Gospel Look at Spiritual Warfare