And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.(Genesis 3:4-5)
The revelation of the fall of man from his position of favor and communion with God, comes down to the fact that the first man and woman, believed the lie. The Lie promised the first couple self-realization and autonomy, but as Peter would say centuries later, “promising them liberty” they have become “slaves of corruption”.
The lie of the serpent in the garden is the underlayment of all false religion, philosophy, psychology and the entire humanistic ideal that has so shaped our modern age. We see that the attraction to the Lie is stronger than ever before, and exerts a constant influence on education, law, medicine, the media, entertainment, literature and even popular religion.
What are the components of this pervasive and multifaceted lie? Lets unpack it…
*You shall not surely die- The nature of death is that it is a punishment of God, “the soul that sins…shall die”, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and then the judgment”,”The wages of sin is death…”. This is what all men know instinctively and is the aspect of death which men fear the most.
But the serpent’s lie is a direct denial of all of the above. One out of seven people in the world believe in Hinduism, with its false doctrine of re-incarnation, a direct echo of the serpent’s lie. No wonder that false religion generally views the serpent positively, as the source of wisdom.
The cults are almost universal in their denial of the eternal conscious judgment that Jesus warned about, when he spoke of a “hell prepared for the devil and his angels”, but which would also be the eternal home of the unrepentant.
Buddhism teaches Nirvana, “nothingness” as the end of all men, an idea that is catching on rapidly in the post christian west.
The serpent is currently hissing through neo evangelicals that “You shall not surely die”, inspiring them to write books which teach that God’s love will not allow for a final, firy judgment.
The ridicule and relegation of the doctrine of eternal punishment as being an outdated relic of a dark and bigotted past ,is just another form of the lie, that “you will not surely die”. Satan doesn’t men to consider their own end.
*For God knows …- This aspect of the lie is a direct assault on the goodness of God. The serpent would have men to believe that if there were a God, He is holding people back from something good, He is blocking their self-realization, because the God of the Bible with his laws and strictures, has put men into bondage.
We are told in the second Psalm that this is the very counsel “the Kings of the earth and their rulers have taken together against the Lord and His Anointed One”. Part of the last days scenario is the fact that they get to the point where they “Cast off the bonds” of the Lord and his Christ, and “throw his cords away” from themselves.
It is almost as if the ruling class, the molders of opinion, the entertainers, educators, the writers, journalists, in short the culture shapers, have taken the same ungodly counsel (in the Universities?). It comes to a head, there is a cultural revolution, an outcry, ‘Away with the bondage of Judeo Christian religion, with its narrow definition of marriage, sexuality, gender, and strict moral code’! Does that sound familiar?
* The day you eat of it, your eyes shall be opened.…Another aspect of the lie, that God Knows… is that there is a knowledge that God has, a liberating secret teaching ,which could be accessed by his creation, through the attainment of knowledge. God of course doesn’t want to share this liberating knowledge. This is the lie that explains the constant appeal, of mystery religion, gnosticism, and the occult. The “lost books of the Bible” or “Bible Codes” presupposes this very idea.
The knowledge is often experiential, first you eat the forbidden fruit, and then you are enlightened…you get in on the secret knowledge through a rite, an initiation into the promised “enlightenment”.
* You shall be as gods…- Here we come to the very heart of the lie, that man can gain a knowledge, or undergo a mystical experience that will allow him to be as (a) god… . What would it mean to be as gods…? God has no limits, God is Sovereign, independent and all-powerful, God makes his own rules. God answers to no one but Himself.
The lie has thoroughly leavened the world. One billion Hindus seek godhood as the goal and end of the burdensome cycle of re-incarnation. Buddhists seek an enlightenment that will make them as the Dalai Lhama, an “enlightened god”. Mormonism’s goal is the realisation of godhood. There are heretical sects in Christianity which propagate the lie, such as the Word of Faith movement.
The doctrine of evolution also is a form of the serpent’s Lie. The premise that mankind is on an upward progression, on the verge of the next phase of his development, is nothing new,in fact it as ancient as the religions of Babylonia and of ancient Greece.
From the Tower of Babel onward, man is constantly erecting pyramids, Ziggaruts, step by step programs, and ever ascending degrees of initiation into some kind of oneness with Deity.
Usually it is the priests or emperors who are said to attain godhood, but the fact that there is any deified man, such as a Pharoah, a Ceasar, Dalai Lhama or a Pope, shows the rest of us the potential that lies within each of us.This is the logic of our constant “hero worship”.
Man projects onto his “Stars”, celebrities, Athletes, entertainers, political heroes, and religious figures, his own aspiration to be as a god. Thus the lie is ever affirmed, that mankind can ascend, he can indeed rise up to the level of God.
The “mystery of iniquity” is the New Testament term for this false belief, that man can rise up, and exalt self over God, and above all that is worshipped as god. This spiritual principle of human deification comes to its final climax in the emergence of the “man of sin”, who is only the embodiment of all of the aspirations of the unbelieving world, which shall one day worship him.
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God…For the mystery of iniquity doth already work… (2 Thessalonians 2:4,7)
The Divine counter to the lie, “the mystery of iniquity”, is something called in the New Testament, “the mystery of godliness”. Can man evolve to the point of being exalted above god, beyond worship or fear itself? Can we ever “be as gods”? Never!
The problem is that the Truth that counters the Lie is less flattering. The fact that man is impotant ,bankrupt and ruined by his fall into sin, is hard to swallow to the generation raised on humanistic optimism. If man is to be saved, God must become a man, God must descend to save us, God must come down to us in our low estate.
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.(I Timothy 3:16)
And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.(John 3:13)