The Temptation of Adam and Eve, Part 1
Topic: Expository Passage: Genesis 3:1-3
The Temptation of Adam and Eve, Part 1
Good morning! Welcome to Sunday school. Please turn in your Bibles to Genesis 3:1-7.
Like I said last week, we are beginning a new study on temptation. Today, we will start with the temptation of Adam and Eve. Lord-willing, later on, we will also study Joseph, David, Daniel, Jesus, and Peter.
But there is something different about the temptation of Jesus and the temptation of Adam and Eve. What makes their temptations different than all the others? First, these two temptations were of massive significance for the entire human race. 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” And Romans 5:19 says, “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” So the temptations of Adam and Eve and Christ had significance for the entire human race. We will talk more about that in another lesson.
Another unique thing about these two temptations is that Adam and Eve and Christ were the only ones who didn’t have a sin nature. That means that Satan plays an over-sized role in both of these temptations, which allows us to get an inside look into the methods of Satan.
Today, we will begin to study Satan’s battle plan in regards to the temptation of Eve, and by doing so, we will learn valuable lessons about how to resist temptation ourselves. Let’s read Genesis 3:1-3 (Gen 3:1-3).
Today, we are going to study Satan’s battle plan in regards to the temptation of Eve. But before we do, I want to introduce you to Satan by means of the one-word description found in v. 1. Chapter three starts out, “Now the serpent was more…” what? (Cunning)
Now that’s an interesting description! What does it mean that the serpent was cunning? I’m not sure. But we know that the serpent in this story is more than just an animal–he is an animal controlled by Satan. How do we know that? The clinching argument is found in Revelation 20:2 (Rev 20:1-2). John explicitly identifies the serpent as Satan.
What does the Bible mean when it says that Satan is cunning? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “cunning” can have either positive or negative connotations, depending upon the context. It can mean either “prudent” or “crafty.” Prior to his fall, Satan was prudent. After his fall, he became crafty.
Satan takes great pride in his so-called “wisdom.” He presents himself as sophisticated.
I’ve told you that Elise and I visited San Francisco this summer. We were only there for less than a week, but I realized, “There is a different type of worldliness here.” I feel like when southern Californians are worldly, they just let it all hang loose. But in San Francisco, there was this sophisticated worldliness. “We’ve got our Ray-Ban glasses, and expensive technology, degrees from Ivy League schools… and we are sophisticated.”
Satan approaches Eve in this passage with an air of sophistication. And he has been doing the same thing ever since. For instance, in the fundamentalist-modernist controversy in the early 1900s, the liberals called the fundamentalists stupid. It was like they were cavemen or something. “You really still believe that the Bible is inspired? How quaint. You really should get out more!”
Satan comes to us and whispers, “Don’t you want to be on the inside? Wouldn’t you like to be enlightened… like me?” Brothers and sisters, beware of godless sophistication!
Satan presents himself as sophisticated. He is also a good liar. If you played Poker with Satan, he would win every time. Nobody knows when he’s lying.
Why is Satan such a good liar? Because most of the time, he believes his own lies!
Most of the time, Satan does not fight with force. He is like Scar in the The Lion King. Here’s a thought for you: If Satan wants to be God, why doesn’t he just gather all of his demons together and attack the gates of heaven? Because he would lose, and he knows it! In fact, he tried that before and got thrown out of heaven!
My wife and I rented The Lion King last week. And since I was doing this study on Satan, I was fascinated to see the parallels. The whole thing about Scar is that he is weak. He knows that he cannot challenge Mufasa. So instead, he lies, manipulates, and tempts. He lurks in the shadows, playing the spoiler. That is exactly what Satan does.
And he is very persuasive. As we will see in this study, Satan is excellent at “planting seeds” in people’s minds using the power of suggestion. Not only that, but he is patient and methodical. He is a chess Grandmaster. He doesn’t need to beat you in one turn. He is more than willing to wait you out and to set you up.
You say, “Pastor Kris, how can I ever defeat him?” You can’t; not in your own strength. But given the tools that God has provided, you can stand against Satan. Many people have in the past (we are going to study some of them in this series), and you can, too.
Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” There is a veiled promise in that verse: if you put on the armor, you will be able to stand.
So, given that introduction, let’s talk about Satan’s battle plan against Eve.
His battle plan against Eve was simple: Get her to… 1) Doubt God’s goodness, 2) Deny God’s Word, and 3) Disobey God’s command.
Satan’s end goal is to get Eve to disobey and eat the fruit. But he cannot just walk up to her and say, “Eat this fruit.” That wouldn’t be very effective! So first, he’s got to lay some groundwork. (Remember, Satan is a master strategist.) And that groundwork begins with an attack on God’s character.
Satan has to get Eve to doubt God’s goodness. How does he go about it?
1. Suggest that God’s rules are too strict (v. 1).
The first thing Satan does is to downplay all of God’s gifts. Notice, no mention is made of all of the wonderful things God has given to Adam and Eve! Satan gets right to the point: “Did God really say you can’t eat the fruit from these trees?”
Satan asks a question to which he obviously knows the answer. Of course God didn’t say that they couldn’t eat the fruit growing on any of the trees! That would have been ridiculous! But do you see what he’s doing? He’s playing dumb so that he can exaggerate God’s prohibition. Only one prohibition. And that is what Satan attacks.
Does Satan still do this today? Of course! Brothers and sisters, we serve a generous God! There are so many things you can do in this world that God does not forbid! In fact, He invites you to enjoy those pleasures. He would be bothered if you didn’t enjoy them. And yet, Satan will try to get you to focus on that one little thing that you want to do that the Bible will not allow. And he will make that a bur under your saddle until you get bitter.
Step number one was to suggest to Eve that God’s rules were too strict. Step number two was to sow a seed of discontentment.
2. Sow a seed of discontentment.
By asking that question the way that he did, Satan is subtly suggesting to Eve that she is not as happy as she could be–that she is missing out. This is the age old, “the grass is greener” syndrome. And I want you to see that this is pure emotional manipulation, since Eve was not unhappy prior to talking with the serpent!
When counseling victims of abuse (or potential victims of abuse), they talk about how it is very important to ask open-ended questions. Why? Because it is possible to suggest or even implant a memory. In the course of this conversation, Satan implants discontentment! Before talking with the devil, Eve is perfectly content. But then Satan says, “Aren’t you unhappy, knowing that you can never taste that fruit?” “You know, come to think of it, I am unhappy!”
Beware the people who sow seeds of discontentment in your life. Ladies, if you have a girlfriend who constantly disses your husband and tells you to ditch him, divorce her. That is a toxic relationship. If you have a mom who is constantly in your ear making you discontent with the lifestyle your husband is able to provide, say, “Mom, quit it.” If you have a friend from church who constantly talks bad about the church or people there, tell her to knock it off! And then if she doesn’t, quit going to lunch with her! If scrolling social media makes you discontent with your appearance, your relationship status, or your situation in life, then get off social media! Do not tolerate people who sow seeds of discontentment in your heart.
First, Satan suggests that God’s rules are too strict. Second, he sows a seed of discontentment. Finally, he draws Eve into a conversation on his own terms.
3. Entice Eve into a conversation on his own terms.
This is so subtle. Why did Satan ask such a stupid leading question? “Did God really say you can’t eat any of the fruit growing on these trees?” Duh! Why did he ask that? First, he was exaggerating the prohibition. We already talked about that. But second, Eve was eager to correct his “misunderstanding.” However, in doing so, she was drawn into a conversation she should never have had.
You say, “But Eve pushed back in v. 3, so it is okay, right? No! One theologian I listened to this week put it this way. He said, it is a lot easier to understand the problem with Eve’s response if you think about what she should have said. Here’s what Eve should have said in v. 3. “Are you out of your thick little skull? This is paradise! And I have everything I could possibly want! I have a husband who loves me and I love Him; I have fulfilling work to do; and most importantly, I have a relationship with my Creator! On top of it all, you are a snake! God put me in dominion over you; so get out of here you little beast!”
Compare Eve’s response to Satan to the way Jesus responded to the devil when He was tempted in the wilderness. Jesus didn’t reason with the devil. He rebuked him. And in the end, He even said, “Get away from me, Satan.”
Satan successfully lured Eve into a conversation on his own terms. What were his terms? Here they are: “It is okay for us to be standing here having this conversation about whether or not God is good.” In other words, “You and I can stand in judgment of God.”
By continuing the conversation with Satan, Eve was unknowingly signing off on a deadly presupposition, and that was this: “My logic, rather than God’s revelation, is ultimate.” [Repeat]
When you study the philosophy, you learn that there are various schools of thought as it relates to how we know things. Some philosophers taught that man could arrive at ultimate truth by means of observation. These were the scientists. Other philosophers believed that man could arrive at ultimate truth by means of sheer logic. These were the armchair philosophers. But when you study the history of philosophy, what you find is that both of those routes turned out to be dead-end streets. They both ended with skepticism, which says, “Truth is unknowable,” or postmodernism, which says, “There is no such thing as ultimate truth. What matters is what’s true to you.”
We as Christians take an alternate route. We say, “Man can only arrive at ultimate truth by means of revelation.” God has to reveal Himself to us, or else we would never know Him. And of course, the exciting news is that God has revealed Himself to us by means of His Word! But if we take that route, it means that we submit our logic to the truth of God’s Word. I am not God’s judge; He is my judge! That doesn’t mean that Christians are blindly unintellectual, but it does mean that at the end of the day, we are willing to accept mysteries (for instance, the Trinity) and believe them, just because the Bible tells me so. We have faith.
Eve surrendered that entire worldview when she agreed to continue the conversation on Satan’s own terms. It was the ultimate setup, and she was completely oblivious.
So all of that was objective number one for Satan: get Eve to doubt God’s goodness. But now where did Eve go wrong?
Her first mistake was continuing the conversation. We’ve already talked about that at length. But before we go on, I just want to point out one more thing, and that is that we often say “no” to temptation in such a way as to keep the door open, just in case. Eve pushed back against Satan, but she did not close the door. A man says that he wants to defeat pornography, but he is unwilling to take the radical steps of amputation in order to limit his access, maintain accountability, etc.
Lord-willing, we will talk about Joseph in a later lesson, but we need to take a play from his book and run away!
Eve’s second mistake was to sympathize with Satan. This is most clearly seen in the fact that in her response, she too exaggerated God’s prohibition (v. 3). Did God say that they couldn’t touch the fruit (2:17)? No! He never said that!
So yes, Eve pushes back, but she also in effect grants Satan his main point by admitting, “You’ve got a point. God has been pretty strict.” Cha-ching! Satan can cross off objective number one: “Get Eve to doubt God’s goodness.”
I don’t know how Satan has been attacking you lately. Maybe life has been hard, and you’ve been tempted to despair. Maybe life has been good, so you’ve been tempted to get into mischief. Whatever the case may be, I can guarantee you, if Satan has been attacking you at all, he’s been tempting you doubt God’s goodness. He has to! He has no other options!
Psalm 84:11 says, “No good thing will He [God] withhold from those who walk uprightly.” If you really believed that, why would you ever give Satan the time of day? You wouldn’t! It’s like marketing–in order to get you to buy his product (sin), Satan has to convince you that you need sin in order to be happy!
You say, “I never question God’s goodness.” Do you complain? “Well, yes.” Then you question God’s goodness! You see, we don’t always call it what it is, but that’s what it is!
So what can you do to defend yourself?
1. Practice purposeful thankfulness.
Thankfulness is like an inoculation against so much sin! Discontentment will not grow in the soil of thankfulness! It won’t! That’s why Solomon says over and over in the book of Ecclesiastes, “Enjoy life!” Relax and be happy with what you have rather than always grasping for more!
Refuse to complain. When complaints arise in your heart, do not tolerate that mess! Say, “Lord, please forgive me! You have been so good!” And then immediately start thanking Him. Start singing a hymn. Replace complaining with thankfulness right that instant! In doing so, you will be guarding your soul.
You say, “Pastor Kris, what about when I can’t think of any reasons to be thankful? What about when it seems like God is not good?” That’s when you need to put on the shield of faith.
2. Put on the shield of faith.
Ephesians 6:16 commands us to take the shield of faith with which we will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
One of the things that sets believers apart from unbelievers is faith. Tragedy strikes an unbeliever, and he says, “See! If there was a God, why would these bad things be happening to me? There is no God. God is dead.” Tragedy strikes a believer, and he says, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” “Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, yet I am not forsaken.”
You say, “Pastor Kris, I know what you’re saying, but I just can’t see it!” I know; that’s why it’s called “faith.” If life made perfect sense all the time, it wouldn’t be a walk of faith!
One of the most important things about you is what you believe about God. And so the most basic but perhaps the most important challenge I could give you this morning is this: regardless of your circumstances, decide to believe that God is good.
I don’t often do this during Sunday school, but I am going to do an invitation today. We are going to be still for a few moments, and I ask each and every one of you to talk to God silently.
If you are struggling to believe in God’s goodness today, tell that to God. And then tell Him, “Lord, You are good. I believe, You are good. Help me to believe that You are good.”
Maybe you need to repent of complaining. Or maybe there is something else that you need to talk to God about. Do that in the silence.