Entry Level Theological Truth [29]

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:6

 

Temptation appeals to fundamental human impulses, including the senses. First, Eve “saw,” then she reasoned in keeping with her own intellect; finally, she took and ate involving the tactile and taste senses. People fall prey to the same traps today, following their personal thoughts and impulses to their own spiritual cost. A post mortem on this tragic episode in human history provides modern people with help in recognizing and overcoming temptation.

 


Looks Can Kill



 

AppleGod is the author of true taste and beauty. He created man’s aesthetic sense, and filled the original creation with many lovely things. Even this present, fallen world still has many vestiges of its original divinely-engendered beauty. The problem is not that Eve appreciated something tasty and attractive, but rather that she sought these blessings apart from obedient love towards the Blesser. As the Lord Jesus later summed up the demonstration of true creaturely and filial affection: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15.)

One commentator describes Eve’s view of the prohibited tree in this way: “Already she looks upon the tree with quite other eyes than before. The more she looks upon it, the more charming to her does its fruit seem to be, both in itself and on account of the advantage to be obtained from it. Now, finally, this external charm of sense decides her to the commission of the deed.”1 Her wayward eyes led to the sin. Sight displaced faith in favor of human reasoning that ignored God’s stated command.

The internal strivings of the first woman’s mind exhibit the first demonstration of loving the world, instead of the Lord. 1 John 2:16 spells out the characteristics of such an affection: “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” Kidner explains: “The pattern of sin runs right through the act, for Eve listened to a creature instead of the Creator, followed her impressions against her instructions, and made self-fulfilment her goal. This prospect of material, aesthetic and mental enrichment (6a) seemed to add up to life itself; the world still offers it (1 John 2:16). But man’s lifeline is spiritual, namely God’s word and the response of faith (Deut. 8:3; Hab. 2:4); to break it is death.”2

 


A Gilded Road To Perdition



 

Gilded Road to PerditionIt is a sad reality that a perverted exaltation of the good things of life – flavor, color, melody, and other appealing qualities – can drag someone to hell. Many people are so taken with art, music, and literature that they have no time or interest in a relationship with their Creator. How many gourmands flock to the latest “foody” hotspot, but never even consider going to a place where the gospel is faithfully preached. This is really a subtle form of idolatry, which substitutes sensations, pleasures, and things for adoration of the One True God. This is why the Bible equates covetousness with idolatry (Col. 3:5.) As a contemporary author writes: “Covetousness is a form of idolatry because it is both the exaltation of the object desired as well as of yourself, while Christ is eclipsed by both.”3

 


Overcoming Tasty Temptation



 

God alone can give victory over temptation. His absolute triumph is evidenced by the Son’s conflict with Satan in the desert, where he tested Him three times in a vain attempt to entice this sinless One with the same plan of attack. When the adversary appealed to Christ’s physical appetites, He responded with utter confidence in the Holy Scriptures, keeping His desires in full conformity to His Father’s will (Matt. 4:4.)

Next, the devil bade him to orchestrate a dramatically supernatural spectacle at the Temple by throwing Himself from the roof’s pinnacle in order to force divine protection via the agency of protecting angels. How that would incite pride in ordinary men! Yet the Lord Jesus refused by citing the Scriptures as to His proper role in seeking His Father’s will (as opposed to self-promoting exhibitionism – Matt. 4:7.)

Lastly, from the impressive vantage point of a high mountain the evil one offered Christ a crossless crown. Even seeing the glory of the world’s kingdoms did not turn the Lord’s head. As He said later: “…the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (Jn. 14:30.) Only by faith in Christ (1 Jn. 5:4-5) and by the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given to believers (Rom. 8:1-5) can we overcome temptation.

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1A. Dillmann, Genesis Critically and Exegetically Expounded, Vol. 1, trans. Wm. B. Stevenson. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1897), p. 152.

2Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, Vol. 1. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967), p. 73.

3Joe Thorn, Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (Re:Lit) Good News Publishers/Crossway Books, 2011, pp. 111-112. Kindle Edition.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [28]

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

The title of Tears For Fears’ 80’s pop anthem “Everybody wants to rule the world” hits on a basic truth about humanity: people innately desire to command their own lives and circumstances. Of course, the reality is far different. Many live like the embodiment of Henley’s skeptically poetic lines:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
1

 

Yet the sad truth is that men are not in control of their fate, lives, or world. This inner yearning for control with its correlative quest for personal knowledge and enlightenment are artifacts from the fall. From the garden of Eden onwards, Satan has peddled the lie to humanity “…you will be like God”2, holding forth the promise of self-sufficiency for wayward humanity.

 


A Faustian Temptation



 

The serpent implies to Eve that the Almighty does not want competition by saying this: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5.) In other words, Adam and she will know what God knows and be able to decide for themselves concerning the nature of good and evil. Contemporary people also find this lie attractive. They erroneously believe that they are their own arbiter of truth and can determine good and evil for themselves. But God is the standard of truth in Himself; apart from Him humans do not have the capacity to escape evil and achieve lasting, eternal good.

Of course, the Lord does not want man to be ignorant; He is a God who reveals Himself and gives light through His Word (Ps. 119:130.) He wants people to walk in the light with Him (1 Jn. 1:5-7.) That is, God wants them to discover knowledge in Him. Good is what agrees with His character and will (these things are explicitly revealed by what He commands and teaches in His Word.) In Christ – the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) – believers find the truth about God and themselves (Jn. 14:6.)

 


Rejecting Destructive Independence



 

The essence of sin is rebellion against God – a treasonous act of disloyalty to the One who made mankind. When one sins, they dethrone God in their life and place themselves squarely on the throne. As Stott pointedly said: “Every sin is a surrender to the primeval temptation to become like God.”3 When they sin, they are saying in effect: “I know better than God what is good for me; abstaining from this act would be evil – I must do it.”

 


Sharing In The Life That God Has For Us



 

Christian sanctification is the process by which our Creator and Redeemer works out the new life in His new creature’s lives. The more that the saints walk with Christ, the more they learn to deny self in favor of obedience to God. A nineteenth century preacher put it well:

The first object from which our heavenly Father weans His child is self. Of all idols, he finds self the hardest to abandon. When man in Paradise aspired to be as God, God was dethroned from his soul, and the creature became as a deity to itself. From that moment, the idolatry of self has been the great and universal crime of our race, and will continue to be until Christ comes to restore all things. In the soul of the regenerate, Divine grace has done much to dethrone this idol, and to reinstate God. The work, however, is but partially accomplished. The dishonored and rejected rival is not eager to relinquish his throne, and yield to the supreme control and sway of another. There is much yet to be achieved before this still indwelling and unconquered foe lays down his weapons in entire subjection to the will and the authority of that Savior, whose throne and rights he has usurped…The moment we learn to cease from ourselves–from our own wisdom, and power, and importance–the Lord appears and takes us up. Then His wisdom is displayed, His power is put forth, His glory is developed, and His great name gets to itself all the praise. It was not until God had placed Moses in the cleft of the rock, that His glory passed by. Moses must be hid, that God might be all.4

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1William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”; found here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/invictus/ Accessed on 6/5/12.

2Or “gods” according to some translations; either rendering of elohim is permissible in Hebrew. If one thinks of Elohim as a proper title for God – as in Gen. 1:1 – than it is “God” (NKJV, JND, & ESV.) If, however, the serpent was using the term generically of Adam and Eve, then “gods” would be the correct translation (KJV; “divine beings” NET; see Ps. 82:1, 6 – especially note the margin of the NKJV.) It is a question of emphasis: is he saying they will be like God, emphasizing that they could achieve the same level as their Creator? Or is he affirming that they will be little gods who can decide things for themselves apart from their Maker? Either way, it is a sinful declaration of independence from the God who is the truth.

3J.R.W. Stott, Christ the Controversialist. London: Tyndale Press; Downers Grove: IVP, 1970, p. 207.

4Octavius Winslow, from the blog: http://octaviuswinslow.org/ Accessed on 7/30/10.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [27]

“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

After contradicting the Lord’s word, the serpent impugned the Almighty’s goodness by inferring that His prohibition of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was motivated out of self-serving jealousy that wanted to withhold something worthwhile from human beings.

Satan has employed this timeless tactic throughout the centuries to plant seeds of doubt regarding their Creator’s intentions in people’s minds. It is a common misconception that God is the cosmic kill-joy – a self-absorbed ogre who wants to hoard the good stuff for Himself, while keeping His creatures in bondage. But this could not be more inaccurate.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [26]

The Rock of Gibralter

“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die.’” Genesis 3:4

After beginning subtly, the adversary changes tactics by directly challenging the Word of God. From an implied undermining of the Almighty’s goodness Satan’s argument now proceeds to specific contradiction of the Creator’s authority. Eventually the enemy always unmasks himself in opposition to the Lord’s revealed mind in the Scriptures. Ultimately, everyone must decide: “Does God’s Word have authority in my life?” Whether one realizes it or not, disbelieving or disobeying the Bible flouts the power, holiness, and sovereignty of the Most High God.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [25]

Graveyard

“…Lest you die.” Genesis 3:3

“There’s nothing certain except death and taxes” says the familiar adage, but why is that so? People of every race, nationality, socioeconomic and educational level die. One out of every one dies in our world today; these are easy statistics for the mathematically challenged (like this author.) How does one account for the ubiquity of death in our world? Genesis 3 gives the answer.

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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.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [23]

“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

Among human beings, it is a common sin to discount the goodness of their Creator. Often when God is brought into any conversation, it is merely to complain about what’s wrong with the world. Many people live under the misconception that God wants to rob them of any enjoyment they might have on this woeful planet. This brings to mind the journalist H.L. Mencken’s definition of a Puritan: someone who fears that somebody somewhere is having a good time. Many people think God is like that. Not surprisingly, therefore, the first temptation to Adam and Eve came in the form of a question ascribing harshness to the Almighty’s provision for His creatures.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [22]

to-tell-the-truth-will-the-real-jesus-please-stand-up

“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 the mouth of a clever interlocutor questions can undermine and even destroy faith. Therefore, it is not accidental that the first Satanic attack on mankind focused on questioning God’s Word. The serpent was merely a pawn exploited by the devil for an insidiously evil incursion into Eden’s idyllic scene. By assailing God’s Word, the father of lies sought to erode confidence in the Almighty’s authority. Since it first succeeded, Satan has repeatedly employed this tactic to delude men and women and lead them to spiritual destruction.

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Entry Level Theological Truth [21]

question-authority

“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

The dictum “Question authority” has reigned supreme in the western world for almost half a century. It was repeated so loudly and often in the late 60’s and 70’s that it became axiomatic; today, its truth is assumed, rather than proven. But is this really the best approach? The serpent certainly thought so, but his question led to spiritual disaster.

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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.

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