Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (Genesis 3:1)
At the very beginning of the Word of God, we see that mankind has an adversary, a malevolent being whose goal it is to estrange man from God, and disrupt the peace and communion between God and man.
In the garden he is simply introduced as ‘the serpent’, and we are immediately impressed by the power of his subtlety. Thus we can infer that this being was no mere snake, there is an intelligence and volition about him that mere reptiles are incapable of, though this being employed the serpent in his plan.
There is no fuller introduction nor explanation as to his true identity, we would have to persevere all the way to the end of the Bible, to find out that the “Serpent of Old”, was in fact the Devil, and the ancient Satan (Adversary) a fallen Angel cast out of heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.(Revelation 12:9)
He asked of the woman, (not the man, whom God had appointed as head), a loaded question.
What was he looking for, when he inquired of the first couple? He was looking for the least crack, or opening between the couple and their God.
The serpent greatly exaggerated the prohibition of God, “Did God really ban you from eating of every tree in the garden?” The Serpent knew this was an exaggeration and he also knew hat the woman would know this was a gross exaggeration as well, tfor he question was but a probe, into the mindset of the couple.
The woman’s answer at first seemed to be adequate,
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: …(Genesis 3:2)
She corrected the overstatement of the Serpent,’ God was not THAT strict! He has given us freedom to eat of the trees of the garden, But…’
She could have ended the conversation right there, but in that ‘…But…’ she went on to reveal the slightest crack, a tiny seam of alienation of the couple from the Creator. Of course it was no where near as overstated as in the Serpent’s initial question. They didn’t think God was a Tyrant…but…
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. (Genesis 3:3-4)
But what? Eve answered that God had forbidden them to eat of one tree (this was true), and furthermore He forbid them to even touch it…(This was false, a slight exaggeration of the strictness of God).
Next she added a phrase which must have encouraged the Serpent…‘Lest ye die’… . Lest ye die? In other words the woman was not so sure about the Divine sanction, ‘Did God really say we would die? Or is it possible that we just might die, or that we might not die?’
God had originally told Adam, (who was to pass it on to Eve) that in the day they ate of the tree in the garden, “…in dying you shall surely die…”. It couldn’t have been said any plainer and stronger than that, for God wanted them to know what was at stake.
Here was the opening the serpent had been waiting for. The conversation with the woman revealed the estrangement,(ever so slight) of the couple, maximizing the prohibition of God, yet minimizing the penalty of God, and outright calling it into question.
Now the Serpent knew that the first couple were ready to hear the Word of God openly denied! “You Shall Not surely die…”.
We see that this story is timeless and very modern, applicable to our own current situation. The Serpent has long infiltrated the Christian churches, and has been calling into question truths and doctrines which are obvious to any honest reader of scripture.
The Christian teaching on marriage, gender, prohibitions against fornication and all forms of adultery and perversion, as well as the Christian warning that there is a heaven to gain and a Hell of fire to be shunned is as clear as a bell in the scriptures. There can be no mistaking the plain meaning of the texts.
Almost all of the horrible things I know about hell come from the lips of Jesus himself. The doctrine of eternal conscious punishment is so horrible, it is as though God entrusted the bulk of description of Hellfire to His Son alone, so that no one could say “Paul or Peter had a lot of hangups, thats why they railed on Hell!” .
But Jesus is the one who taught us about “Weeping and gnashing of teeth”,” outer darkness”, an the urgency of escape to the point where you would cut off your hand or foot to escape it”!
Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50 “The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Mark 9:43, 48-49 “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.”
Matthew 22:13 “Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 8:12 “while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
See how clear this teaching is? These are the Words of Jesus! You wouldn’t think it possible to deny such things in church, but there are many, many pastors and teachers who do so. They have listened to the Serpent, and put themselves unwittingly at his disposal, to help carry out his program of distorting and denying the Word of God.
My point is that we are truly engaged in a real spiritual warfare. We have a very subtle adversary, we cannot afford to loosen our grip on the Word of God, and to walk by the inclination of our own fallen hearts. This is the master deceiver, the “one who deceives the whole world”,He has taken captive many earnest and sincere Christians, We must put all of our trust in the LORD and His Word.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.(I John 4:1-4)