Entry Level Theological Truth [20]

Indian cobra snake

“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

In choosing a surrogate to approach Eve with an insidious temptation, Satan chose a serpent – an animal that was known for its intelligence. The New King James Version’s rendering “cunning” is somewhat misleading, implying something negative. No doubt the translators chose this word because in this chapter the serpent’s cleverness is being misused for evil purposes.

Elsewhere Proverbs and Job both use the word positively in the sense of “prudent” (e.g. Proverbs. 1:4; 12:16, 23.) This shows us that one’s strengths can be frequently turned to disadvantages. The serpent’s intelligence turned to craftiness as it was applied to the task of deception (see the NAS, ESV, NIV translations for this idea.) Many a gifted human mind has become the unwitting tool of Satan’s machinations. The more talented the pawn, the more dangerous the gambit in the high stakes game of life.


Inspiration For Reptiles


That Satan was behind this serpent is evident from certain factors within Genesis 3, as well as the later testimony of Holy Scripture. If a mere reptile is in view, it seems as if the punishment meted out later in the chapter is overblown (v. 14.) What is more, the famous prophecy of Genesis 3:15 clearly refers to the bruising of the serpent’s head in terms that look beyond earthly snakes to the inspiring Satanic mind behind the animal. The Lord Jesus said that Satan was “a murderer from the beginning” and also called him “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44.) Likewise, 2 Corinthians 11:3 clearly links the serpent and his duplicity with the beguiling ways of Satan. Lastly, Revelation 12:9 refers to him as “that old serpent.”

It seems clear then that the serpent was the tool of the great infernal adversary who is commonly called the Devil. As Briscoe says: “…Satan was utilizing the serpent’s own natural brilliance for his own nefarious ends.”1 Kidner adds: “…her temptation comes through a subordinate (cf. Matthew 16:22, 23, concerning Jesus and Peter), which strengthens its appeal to pride but carries no compulsion.”2


The High Cost Of Deception


The serpent would pay dearly for his participation in the beguiling of Eve. Genesis 3 shows us that sin has consequences. If one runs with the devil, so to speak, one shares his deplorable fate. The Beast and the False Prophet of the Revelation are cast into the Lake of Fire for their involvement in Satan’s mad schemes (Revelation 19:20.) In like manner, everyone who joins his side – wittingly or unwittingly – is placing themselves on the path to spiritual damnation.


Jump back to the first article in this series.


1D. Stuart Briscoe The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 1: Genesis, (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), p. 49.

2Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 72.

Photo Credit: Kamalnv [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


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