Temptation in the Garden
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’ ”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Remember where we are in the story so far. God has created humans and placed them in the garden. Their worship is to obey the one law God gave them and to build and spread God’s culture in creation.
Humans don’t exist in this idyllic state very long however. Here in chapter 3 we see what is known as the fall of humanity and this fall has everything to do with humans misplacing their worship.
This description of what is known as the Fall in the big picture story of the Bible is a biblical anthropology, describing the nature of human beings, and it also gives us a paradigm for how temptation and succumbing to sin occurs.
The serpent is described as being crafty. Being crafty, clever or shrewd is not necessarily a bad thing. In the proverbs we are told to be prudent all the time—same word. It simply refers to being aware of the situation and making wise decisions in those situations. Yet Satan uses his clever nature for evil by tempting them to disobey God’s one law and to take the care of creation into their own hands by defining good and evil for themselves, instead of following God’s definitions of good and evil. He tempts them to worship themselves, not God.
The first couple of days we are going to examine how Satan tempts us to misplace our worship. Satan tempts the first humans by calling into question both God’s words and God’s motives. First, note in the first 2 chapters when God speaks it produces life, order and beauty. When Satan, the serpent, speaks here it produces death, chaos and destruction.
Note his initial crafty question in verse one that focuses on the negative. He over-exaggerates the prohibition to get Eve thinking about the one tree God told her she can’t eat from instead of multitude of other trees she can eat from. She is focused on what she can’t have rather than the vast blessing she has been given. The serpent knows this and Eve knows the command from God was clear as day. He is here trying to cloud it and cast doubt.
Satan’s “lies” in vv. 4-5 are technically true however sneaky distortions of the truth. They didn’t die immediately but they will now die eventually; their eyes were opened but opened to their shame and separation from God; they were like God knowing good and evil but in doing so they are banished from the garden.
After calling into questions God’s actual words the serpent pivots to call into question God’s motives. His second question challenges their understanding that God truly has good intentions for them. That humans following God’s way is actually better than following their own way. The phrase “knowledge of good and evil” is often used to describe children before learning wisdom. So the implication of this phrase is that the humans in this current state are immature and needing wisdom. It is likely that God intends to teach them wisdom so they will grow into better rulers of creation. The temptation then is to gain wisdom and understanding in how to rule creation without following God’s word and God’s way. Instead to take if for themselves. In essence the serpent is telling them to follow their own way, rule creation themselves, without God’s oversight, worshipping themselves, not God. The irony however is that humans are already like God because God has given them his image and likeness.
For our additional content today I’ve included a podcast from the Bible project called “The Tale of Two Trees“. In this podcast they discuss this event in scripture from the angle of trees. You can find the whole podcast here
(ff to about 5:30 in the devotional recording for the extra content)
Today, spend some time reflecting on the nature of temptation. Satan is crafty and he will tempt you to call into question God’s word and God’s motives. Did God really say. Does God really have your best interest in mind. It seems as if he unnecessarily restricting you from pleasure or joy. Pay attention to how you see these temptations at play in your day today.