How do you feel about rules? Are you the one who makes the rules? Are you the one who enforces the rules? Do you ignore the rules? Break the rules? Or are you completely unaware that there are any rules to begin with? We all respond uniquely to the rules. But the way we respond to rules matters. Because there are consequences. For obedience and disobedience.
A Good Beginning
The first two chapters of the Bible reveal the creation of all things. God created the whole universe out of nothing. And He gave it all to a man and a woman.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. (Genesis 1:28–29, ESV)
Basically, God created this perfect, wonderful paradise. Gave it to the first man and woman as a gift. And told them, “Eat, drink, enjoy yourself. Fill this place up with a lot of other image bearers.”
Sounds pretty nice, huh?
And in all of this freedom and liberty, God gave them one command. One rule. One prohibition.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV)
That’s it. One rule. Don’t eat from that tree. But that one rule carried severe consequences. We’re talking life and death.
And that’s how our story got messy. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, broke the rule. They ate the fruit. And everything changed.
But you and I aren’t much different than them. In fact, we reenact their story over and over again every single day.
How Our Story Got Messy
In Genesis chapter three the story takes a turn. A new character arrives on the scene. A serpent. Who speaks. And challenges the authority and character of God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1, ESV)
It might seem strange to you that a serpent speaks. I’ve come across several snakes in my life, and never once has one of them spoken a single word! But there is more going on here than meets the eye. The serpent of Genesis 3 is a real serpent. But the enemy has infiltrated it and uses it to deceive the woman (see Revelation 12:9, 20:2).
Martin Luther said,
Let us therefore, establish in the first place that the serpent is a real serpent, but one that has been entered and taken over by Satan.
According to the Bible, Satan can present himself in many forms. The apostle Paul writes that he even manifests himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan is a liar. He is a deceiver. And he has been so from the beginning. But he doesn’t typically present himself in an intimidating way. He reveals himself in an attractive way. As something good. So that he can do his work of deception.
That’s what he’s doing here.
And there is one big theological reason Satan presents himself to Eve as a serpent.
God commanded Adam and Eve to rule and reign over all creation. So, if Satan can appear to the woman as a creature and get her to disobey God, He can subvert God’s created order and bring devastation to His creation.
That’s what Satan wants to do. He wants to undo every good thing God has done. And that’s what he is up to in Genesis 3.
So, he appears to the woman and he asks her a question. “Did God really say?”
Satan wants Eve to doubt God’s word. He wants her to doubt God’s character. And he does the same thing to us today. Because if he can deceive us into questioning the authority and goodness of God’s word, then the battle is already won.
And we do doubt God’s word. We do it every day. Every time we sin it’s because we believe a lie instead of God’s truth. We make excuses. We try to find loop holes. Or we think of reasons God’s word doesn’t apply to us in our particular circumstance.
But have you ever thought of how crazy it is to doubt God’s word? God is the creator of everyone and everything. He is the highest authority in the universe. But when we doubt God’s word, we place ourselves as an authority even higher than God. Looking down on His word and judging its validity. And that’s just insane.
Imagine if you were on trial for a crime. The judge has the authority to pronounce judgment over you. And whatever he decides will come to pass. Now imagine just before the judge pronounces your sentence, you get up from your seat and approach the bench. Then you take the gavel from the judge’s hands and say, “I don’t accept your authority, and I will not comply with your sentence.” Then you slam the gavel down and walk out of the courthouse.
That would never happen. Because that’s not how things work. The judge has the authority in that situation. Not you.
But every time we doubt God’s word, we assume an authority that is higher than God’s. And that’s insane.
But that’s what Satan wants us to do. He wants to deceive us into thinking that we don’t have to submit to the word of God. He wants us to decide what’s best for ourselves. To live our own lives and go our own way. Make our own destiny.
But you and I are creatures created by the Creator God. He designed us. He knows what’s best for us. And our stories are better when we live according to His word.
Don’t be deceived into doubting God’s word. Because, as we will see in the next few posts, that can only lead to devastation.
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