The Early Chapters of Genesis: Chapter 3:2-5

Genesis 3:2‑5  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
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The procedure of the enemy was indeed subtle. It was to awaken distrust of God in Eve's heart. Could it be good to refuse man the fruit of any tree in the garden? Distrust of God opens the door to every sin. Eve ought at once to have turned away. She knew the goodness of Jehovah Elohim. Why then parley a moment more with one who questioned it? To allow it was to sit in judgment on Him, to doubt His love, to accept the serpent as a better friend. She was deceived. Her obvious and urgent duty was to repulse the malicious overture with indignation.
The gift of His only begotten Son is God's answer. For so did He love the world, the fallen guilty world, that He gave His dearest object of affection and delight that every one that believeth on Him should not perish but have life eternal. In presence of the most abounding liberality Satan found his opportunity in the one restriction by which God tested their obedience. In presence of a world of sins and sinners God gave His Son, infinitely more precious than the universe. Yet this was He against Whom grudging was imputed! And Eve alas! listened to her ruin.
“And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 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. And the serpent said to the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that, in the day ye eat of it, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil” (vers. 2-5).
Eve well knew the goodness as well as the command of God; nor had she forgotten the dread penalty of disobedience. She even added to His words, “neither shall ye touch it,” which adding may seem pious, but is neither seemly nor wise. The serpent advances a bold step now, and dares to give God the lie. This soon follows, when the heart conceives distrust of His love. “Ye shall not surely die.” “Fear nothing of the sort. On the contrary, to refrain from the fruit of that tree is to abandon your just hopes. God does not wish you to know good and evil as He does. He wants you to remain babes and slaves. Instead of dying, He knows that, in the day ye eat of it, your eyes shall be opened to know what He does. Fear not death, and assert your independence.” Divine truth and majesty were thus alike assailed.
It is so always. The moment God's love is distrusted, His word is sure to be speedily annulled, and His honor goes for nothing. If God is viewed with doubt, Satan reaps the spoil. To trust one's self is to fall a victim to the enemy, who is far stronger and subtler than man, and infuses into the human heart his own self will and enmity against God, especially against the Son Who alone reveals the Father and the Father's love. Man is in no real way self-sufficient, though his own pride and Satan's guile hold it out as a prize. Man had been set up to rule the lower creation, but as God's servant even while His vice-gerent, on the tenure of the amplest gifts and the least possible tax of obedience. But the enemy, concealing himself carefully under the serpent, drew on the woman to be his slave by distrust and disobedience of Jehovah Elohim.
As here, the real failure begins in the heart, which quickly betrays its departure from God by open opposition to His will. For one must be servant of God or of sin; and Satan it is who, behind, thwarts God and ruins man. Christ is, in all respects, the blessed contrast, Who being in the form of God counted it not robbery (or a thing to be grasped) to be on equality with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man He humbled Himself, becoming obedient unto death, yea, death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him. Phil. 2:6-96Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: (Philippians 2:6‑9). The one being a creature was responsible to do God's will in submissive service, yet disobeyed unto death through setting up to become as God. The other was truly God, even as the Father, yet emptied Himself to be a bondman, and, when found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself to the lowest in the death of the cross, to obey and glorify God where He had been shamefully dishonored. He came to do God's will, and did it perfectly at all cost to Himself. Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, raising Him from the dead and glorifying Him in Himself on high.
“We know that everyone that is begotten of God sinneth not; but the begotten of God keepeth himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:1818We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. (1 John 5:18)). It was not so with Eve. Innocent she was like Adam, but not begotten of God, and consequently, instead of keeping herself, she parleyed, and the wicked one did touch her. She knew that the serpent was insinuating a doubt of God's goodness and emboldening her to disobey Him, in defiance of His word and threat; yet she did not turn away with horror, nor cry to God in her weakness. Thereby fatal lust, the desire to have what God forbade, was infused, which gave birth to overt sin. How different Christ! He instead of yielding suffered, which Eve did not; yet was He tempted far beyond our first parents, tempted in all things in like manner as we, apart from sin: the severest temptations ever endured, sin excepted. From our sinful temptations He was absolutely exempt. He knew no sin; which was as incompatible with His person as with the work He came to do. And we may well bless God that so it was: otherwise our salvation had not been, any more than God glorified in the cross of Christ.
The craft of Satan seduced Eve from one degree to another. First, she was drawn away to doubt His love; then she ceased to tremble at His word, His truth; and lastly, she fell by open transgression under the temptation to receive the devil's gospel—to become as God, knowing good and evil. Can any course more aptly portray what has wrought in hearts ever since? The difference is that we are by birth fallen and prone to sin, and that God has spoken and acted to arouse and deliver, above all in redemption by Christ the Lord; so that men are without excuse if they persist in the lie of Satan against the grace and truth of God. Yet do they live as if there were no death or after this no judgment, no real God, no destroyer, and no Savior. When man as he is takes up his own doings, or rites done by others, in the hope that God is too good to consign him to “the second death,” “the lake of fire,” he is evidently listening to the deceiving voice of the old serpent.
None but the Son of God and Son of Man can save sinners; and even He only by dying for their sins and bearing their judgment at the hand of God.
But this He suffered once, once for all: the infinite fruit of God's love to the sinner, and His hatred of their sins. But the heart must give Him credit for such love, and rest upon His redemption by faith: else there is no purification of heart or conscience; and this must be now and here below, that as believers, as His saints, we may serve and worship Him henceforth by the Spirit of God.
Thus the Savior reverses for good to God's glory what the enemy wrought to His dishonor through human weakness and sin. God is believed in His love that gave and sent His own Son; and thus the soul now repentant, taking God's part against itself in its sins, sets to its seal that God is true, looks up with the assurance which Christ and His atoning work inspire, and bows down in worship begun on earth, never to end in heaven, the new song of Him Who was once dead, alive again now and evermore. “He that spared not His own Son but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not also with Him freely give us all things?”