Skip to main content

Distorting God’s Word and Deceiving Ourselves

Genesis 3:1–13

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.

One of the more subtle parts of the stories here is how Eve even distorts what God said. She has left herself incredibly susceptible to the serpents temptations by either not remembering God’s words properly or by purposefully distorting them because she didn’t like them. In her response of vv. 2-3 she makes three small alterations which prove to be quite significant.

First, she simply says that they may eat fruit. If we go back to Genesis 2:16 God tells them that they are free to eat from any tree in the garden. In Hebrew the verb “to eat” is repeated. This implies the magnitude of God’s blessing. He tells the humans to eat eat. Like freely eat. Really eat! Go nuts. Eve’s answer indicates subtly that she has diminished in her mind the great blessing of God in the garden.

Second, she adds “…and you must not touch it.” God never says this prohibition in chapter 2. So Eve has in her mind diminished God’s blessing and increased the strictness of his prohibition.

Thirdly, she simply says “… you will die”. Again, when we compare this to what God actually said in chapter 2 we see she has diminished the certainty of the consequences God has told them. As with the first one, in Genesis 2:17 the verb to die is repeated adding certainty to the pronouncement. They won’t just die, they will die die, like certainly die. No doubt about it. Eve has diminished the consequences God has promised.

Any one of these 3 may be overlooked perhaps a simple slip on Eve’s part, but including all 3 the author is attempting to tell us something of the human condition in reference to temptation. We have a limitless capacity to deceive ourselves. The deceptions are subtle but they are no less deadly. In our minds we diminish God’s blessing leading to thanklessness; we amplify his restriction leading to resentment; and we reduce his promised punishment leading to indifference.

Jeremiah 17:9 9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Reflection Questions

Take a few moments today and examine your relationship to the Scripture.

  • Do you know God’s word well?
  • Do you know the big picture of what God says, not just the minute details of a memorized verse here and there?
  • Do you get the big picture so you won’t be duped by subtle distortions of it?
  • Do have a passion to learn it?

Now, throughout your day today, explore your limitless capacity to deceive yourself. Your ability to justify your behavior that you know is contrary to God’s word.

  • How do you respond when you realize your behavior or thinking is shown to be contrary to God’s word?
  • Give thanks to God for his overwhelming blessing in your life.
  • How have you focused so much on the restrictions of God’s law that perhaps you’ve come to resent his moral imperatives?
  • How have you reduced his promises, whether rewards or punishment, leading you to indifference?