Entry Level Theological Truth [24]

“And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die”.’” Genesis 3:2-3

God’s Word is a disclosure of His mind and a revelation of His character and will; therefore, it must be handled carefully. To be slipshod in one’s reading or interpretation of the Scriptures is to invite spiritual error and the disaster that inevitably ensues.

When tempted, Eve responded by misquoting God’s Word: she omitted “Lord” and only mentioned “God” (cf. Genesis 2:15-16 with Genesis 3:2-3.) Moreover, she added to the divine prohibition by saying “…nor shall you touch it.” As Kidner explains: “Eve is duly drawn, and by adding neither shall ye touch it she over-corrects the error, magnifying God’s strictness (she was to have many successors.)”1

Another adds: “These slight alterations to God’s remarks suggest that the woman has already moved slightly away from God toward the serpent’s attitude. The creator’s generosity is not being given its full due, and he is being painted as a little harsh and repressive, forbidding the tree even to be touched. Indeed, the way ‘lest you die’ follows ‘touch’ suggests that not just eating it but touching it may be lethal.”2


The Perils Of Legalism


Warning Extreme Danger SignMany people think that adding man-made rules to the Scriptures is an effective deterrent against sinning. A survey of Christendom shows that this notion is patently false. Legalistic situations move people one step backwards from direct dependence on God through adherence to His Word.

Take for example the religious people of Christ’s day: He affirmed that they searched the Scriptures diligently because they thought intellectual knowledge of the Word would earn them favor with God. Nonetheless, when God revealed Himself in the person of His Son the Lord Jesus, they flatly rejected Him. This attitude showed that they did not really believe the Scriptures (John 5:38-47.)


How Do We Keep Our Balance?


What led to this disturbing unbelief among religious men? A survey of their attitudes throughout the four gospels shows that their faith ultimately lay in their ancestral traditions – “the traditions of the elders” as they often referred to them (Mark 7:5.) This misplaced faith gave them the erroneous idea that they could please God by keeping laws that they had devised. What is more, their traditions eventually provided loopholes for avoiding obedience to God’s Word (the Lord Jesus pointed this out regarding their duties towards their parents, Mark 7:6-13.)

In the end, adding to the Holy Scriptures only diminishes real holiness and diverts true zeal into hypocrisy. It also paints an overly harsh view of the Almighty, presenting Him as one who restricts man by placing impossible demands upon him. In contrast, the Lord Jesus revealed the Divine heart in this invitation: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30.)


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1Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 72.

2Gordon J. Wenham, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1, : Genesis 1-15, (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), p. 73.

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  1. Tim Stafford

    Wonderfully written my brother — Thank you

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, brother Tim. All glory to the Lord!

  3. Larry Price

    Nice job. Clearly stated.

  4. Thanks, brother Larry. The saints in SW have been speaking warmly of Wanda, your ministry, & you.