How Satan Succeeded in Tempting Eve

It is obvious that sin began in the heart of Eve already before she actually ate the forbidden fruit. One may note the following stages: The first thing that happened was that Satan, through the serpent, aroused doubt in Eve’s mind when he said, “Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden??” (Gen. 3:1). In the woman’s reply we note the beginning of resentment: “The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die”? (vv. 2-3). Actually, God had not said that Adam and Eve could not touch this tree; Eve’s mentioning this seems to suggest the beginning of resentment against what she now deemed to be an unfair restriction of their activities.

Doubt and resentment soon led to unbelief. When the serpent went on to say, “You will not surely die” (v. 4), Eve began to believe the serpent and to disbelieve God. Next the serpent aroused pride: “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). Feeling that some greater height of God-likeness than she had previously attained had so far been denied her, and wanting in pride to reach that height, the woman was now ready for the final step. As she looked intently at the tree, evil desire was aroused. There was an appeal to the appetite (the fruit of the tree was “good for food”), to the eyes (it was “pleasing to the eye”), and once again to her pride (the fruit was “desirable for gaining wisdom”). The final step was outright disobedience; “she took some [of the fruit] and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (v. 6). Through these various stages, therefore, Satan succeeded in leading our first parents to sin against God.

Anthony Hoekema, Created in God’s Image, p. 130

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