HAS GOD INDEED SAID?: SATAN’S ONE-TRICK WONDER STILL BEING PLAYED ON THE 21ST CENTURY CHURCH
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
The first question in the Bible is being asked by Satan and it is this, “Has God indeed said?”
God had earlier instructed Adam,
“…Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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)
So notice the reframing of God’s command by the serpent. The emphasis of God’s command is freedom, “every tree of the garden you may FREELY eat…except for this tree in the midst of the garden” but the serpent’s rendition is “You shall not eat of every tree in the garden”.
Now technically, the serpent was correct, God told them they could eat of every tree except one, so they could indeed not eat of every tree. But the serpent’s rendition was to paint an image to Eve, an image to the effect that thanks to God, she was missing out on something “more”. The one tree God held back was somehow more significant than all the however many trees in the garden they could eat from, including the tree of life by the way…
Eve then responded,
“…We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” (Genesis 3:2–3)
Now Eve’s response adds one extra element of “neither shall you touch it” which was not part of God’s command. This betrays an element of unfamiliarity with God’s word. It could be she had only heard the instruction second hand from Adam and so was not familiar with the gravity of the command when God originally gave it in Genesis 2:16–17, remember Eve was not formed at the time.
Capitalising on this, the serpent’s next response is to expressly contradict what God has said. At this point, Eve already had an image in her heart that she was being deprived of something more by God. Satan then proceeds to (i) contradict God’s word, having already began by planting the seed of “Has God indeed said” and (ii) Expound on that image that Eve already believes she is missing out on,
“…You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4–5)
The effect on the conversation with Eve is,
“ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6)
The interesting thing is that every other tree in the garden was good for food and pleasant to the eyes,
“ And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” (Genesis 2:9)
The extra allure with this tree for Eve is what she felt she was missing out on, the wisdom the tree offered.
Once Eve ate of this tree, the repercussion was sin, death, suffering due to dominion now being handed to Satan, the spirit behind the serpent. But how did it all begin? with the words, “Has God indeed said”?
The first move was to cast a degree of ambiguity over God’s word, the second move was to reframe God’s words as oppressive and restrictive (You shall not eat of every tree in the garden) as opposed to liberating (Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat except…), this painted a picture to the effect that God was withholding something from her and the final move was to capitalise on the ambiguity and the “something God is withholding from us” to expressly contradict the word of God.
This same move was attempted on Jesus Christ during His temptation.
Jesus had just been baptised at the river Jordan and God had said of Him,
“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
When Satan tempted Him, what were the basis of two out of three temptations?
“If you are the Son of God…”
In other words, “Has God indeed said you are His Son?”
There was also an attempt to paint an image of deprivation in Christ’s mind by showing Him all the kingdoms of the world at a time the Roman Empire was at its peak. This was to make Christ feel as though God was withholding something (the glory of the kingdoms of the world in this case) from Him.
There was also an image of deprivation painted when the devil attempted to make Christ turn stones to bread. The spirit of the temptation being “Surely God, if He were good, would not mind His own Son using His power to feed Himself? What father after all would give His children stones instead of bread? what father would deprive his son of food in these circumstances”
There was a subtle reframing of God’s word in the temptations, “If you were really God’s Son, He would not leave you here hungry and tired, He would not deprive you of food, He would not deprive you of the ministry of His angels. Okay, now you stick with being the Son of God let me give you something God will not give you, something God is making you miss out on, the kingdoms of the world and their glory”
The one difference between the subjects of temptation in both scenarios is that Christ was very familiar with the word of God while Eve was not. Eve waffled when tempted, not quoting the exact command and adding something that was not in there originally, Jesus accurately quoted scriptures in response to all the temptations.
We might think these tricks are just ancient fairy tales or gimmicks with no relevance to us today but the parallels are all present.
First, Satan in the garden goes to Adam’s bride, Eve, not Adam himself. Possibly because Adam experienced the commandment first hand and was not likely to fall for the deceit, as Paul writes, Eve was deceived, not Adam (1 Timothy 2:14), at no point in all of this drama was Adam deceived.
In the same way, the devil today comes to the bride of the second Adam, the church. The second Adam resisted all his temptations and has now been exalted way above him, it is the second Adam’s bride who is susceptible to temptation.
Secondly, the tricks are exactly the same. As various leftist agendas permeate our socio-sphere there is now pressure to re-think the Bible, a pressure which the Church of England has now shamefully caved into. This has also empowered the “progressive Christianity” movement. “Has God really said that marriage should be between a man and a woman?”, “Has God really said sex should only happen within the confines of marriage?”
So now there is a lot of (supposed) ambiguity around what the Bible teaches in these regards. The reframing of this narrative is that God is oppressive, why (as Joe Rogan would say) would God give people desires and then forbid them from indulging in it? Then the “God is making you miss out on something” bit comes in. “Do you want people to be unhappy? Do you not want them to find love and happiness? Do you not want them to lead fulfilling lives?” and then finally, on the basis of this, an express contradiction of the word of God, “Let us sanction unions that God does not sanction”, “Let us agree with lifestyles explicitly against teachings of scripture”.
Third slightly unrelated point, I think it is interesting that in the garden of Eden, the exception (you shall eat of every tree of the garden except) became what the devil magnified in Eve’s sight, the excepted tree now became the central focus. In the same way, whenever the leftist agendas that are contrary to God’s word are being espoused is it not intriguing that it is the exceptions that are brought to the centre? Abortion-Oh what if a 12 year old girl is raped and gets pregnant? Gender ideology- What about those with gender dysphoria?
The only solution for the church is to succeed where Eve failed i.e. have a solid understanding of the word of God with no additions or subtractions. Did the second Adam not say whoever heard His words and did them was building his house on an unshakeable rock? Did the second Adam not stand on this unshakeable rock of God’s word when the tempter tried Him? The church must stand upon the rock as it is and speak those words upon which it stands boldly to the socio-sphere setting its face like a flint. For the 21st century church, at no time have the words been more true that if you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.
In conclusion, the devil has no new tricks, therefore there is no new anti-dote to his tricks. Same old tricks, same old response of that same old Word of God.