The Great Deception

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thumb-2GENESIS 3:1-13
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent,“From the fruit of the tree of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die!’ “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin.

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden, Then the Lord called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate. Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, the serpent deceived me and I ate (NASB).

INTRODUCTION
Deception is the order of the day. People have been deceived across the centuries, and are still being deceived today. Some people think that if they could make enough money in their job they would be content in life. Some think that if they could win the lottery all their problems would disappear. Some think that if they could get this car or that car, they would find satisfaction in life. Some think that if they could build or buy their dream house, everything would be perfect. Some think that if they could get higher education and assume more responsibilities, they could find purpose and joy in life. Others also think that if they could marry this woman or that man, life would be far better. However, they come to realize that things and people are not always the way they seem to be.

When the beer producers make their commercials on TV, they make the beer look very attractive and enjoyable. However, they refuse to show us what it does to people when they are drunk. They do not show you the number of car accidents, the lives that have been ruined, the tears and grief the consumption of alcohol bring to families and individuals. They refuse to show you the broken marriages and homes alcohol brings. They do not show you the side effects, such as the disfigurement of the human personality. Today I would like us to deal with the topic: “The Great Deception.”

Background
In the creation narrative, at this time God has completed all of creation. He has allowed man to name the rest of creation. God has entrusted the stewardship of the Garden of Eden to Adam. This was a responsibility based on trust. Adam and Eve could eat from every tree in the garden except one tree, “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17). With this background, let us make a transition into the text that is before us.

l. THE SUBTLETY OF THE SERPENT VV. 1-5
The serpent was one of the beasts God created. The text says that it was cunning, which means it was crafty, or subtle. It was Satan using the physical body of a serpent to tempt Eve (2 Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9; 20:2). He chose the most cautious and subtlest animal or reptile and took control over it for his disastrous work. There are several lessons that I would us to explore together in this passage of Scriptures. First, notice that the serpent created doubt in the woman’s mind about the specific instruction of God (v. 1). “Has God indeed said, you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” This is the first interrogation point in the Bible. The first question of the serpent was intended to cast doubt upon the word of God. Here, we see how the serpent exaggerated the word of God. What is exaggeration? It is to present as greater than it is actually the case. It is adding something to what someone has correctly said. In this case it was an overstatement of the definite instruction of God.

William Brunner was right when he wrote, “The real battle of the ages was not fought with destructive weapons. It was fought with the decision of the will. The battlefield was the human soul. The serpent employed the method of deceit to distort the meaning of God’s prohibition and then hold it up for ridicule. The tempter feigned surprise that God should be guilty of issuing such a command. Then he sought to break down the woman’s faith by sowing in her mind doubts, suspicions, and false pictures of the Almighty and His motives. In effect, the serpent was saying, there is something good that God is hiding from you. That is the way Satan continues to bombard your mind with his temptations.

Most of the time, Satan comes with his temptations when you are alone. He comes when you are not meditating on the Word of God. He comes when you have put the Bible aside and having it easy. I suspect that when the serpent came Eve was alone; she was by herself. I am not suggesting that you are not to be alone. You need to be alone sometimes, but realize that most of the time temptations come when you are alone. Joseph was tempted by Mrs. Potiphar when he was alone (Gen. 39:11). David was tempted when he was walking on the roof of his house all by himself (2 Sam. 11:2). Jesus was tempted when He was alone in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-2).

Second, the mistake Eve made was to try to answer the serpent’s question (2-3). In verse 2, the woman answered the serpent’s question with precision, but that was not enough for Eve. In verse 3. Eve stretched the truth. She said more than what God had instructed in Genesis 2:16-17. It is always dangerous to try to argue with or try to correct Satan. Unconsciously, Eve was revealing a willingness to come to terms with the tempter, so she courageously attempted to correct the serpent’s statement. Eve would have been safe if she had walked away without defending God before the serpent. God did not tell Adam and Eve not to touch the tree. Temptation is not sin; temptation is inevitable. It is a natural part of life. It is something that happens to everybody. It happened to Jesus in the wilderness. The danger and sin come when you yield to temptation.

Third, the serpent contradicted God’s instruction to the couple (v. 4-5). “Then the serpent said to the woman, you will not surely die.” This is the final denial of divine revelation and inspiration. God said, “You shall surely die.” The serpent says that God’s word is not true. Here it is the serpent’s word against God’s word. The first doctrine to be denied is the doctrine of judgment. He denied not only the word of God but said that if Eve eats the fruit her eyes would be opened and she would be like God, knowing good and evil. The choice today is the same as it was for Eve. It is either the Word of God or the lies and deception of Satan. It is either Jesus Christ the Savior, or Satan the seducer. Today, many young people are tempted with drugs, some are tempted with alcohol, sex outside marriage, stealing, pornography on the Internet, TV, and magazines; some are tempted to live a lie. Some are even tempted to commit suicide because life is not worth living. The sad thing is that many yield to these temptations. The tempter said, “Your eyes will be opened.” Yes, their eyes were opened to earth but closed to heaven. They would be able to see sin, but they could no longer look at righteousness. Lust would attract them but holiness would elude evil. They would aspire to be gods but they would fall into the pit of the demons. Many cults and sects today deny that God will judge men and women’s actions and deeds. My simple question to such people is this. If our evil world has laws that judge and punish people for their wrong acts, why do you think a holy God would exonerate people for their wickedness? If God would not judge sin then, He would have to apologize to people of Noah’s time and Sodom and Gomorrah. The serpent said to Eve, “You will be like God.” The serpent challenged the word and works of God. Since then, people continue to challenge the word and works of God (Noah and his contemporaries and Moses and Pharaoh and his army). I can give you many biblical examples.

II. THE SUCCUMB TO SIN VV. 6-8
In verse 6, the temptation was faith in God versus human appeal. It was up to the woman to decide either to hold on to her faith in God’s command, or to walk by sight. It was a conflict between the love of God and human lust. Should she depend on the instruction of God, or act according to her impression? Every Christian faces similar temptations today. God’s word admonishes us that we are the temple of God because God’s Spirit lives in us (1 Cor. 6:9). We are not to defile the temple of God that is our body, but preserve it for the exclusive use of God. What temptations are you facing and how are you handling them? How did Adam and Eve handle the temptation? They defied the precise instruction of God and ate the fruit (v. 6). Eve had a choice either to walk away, or stretch her hand to pluck the fruit and eat. She chose the latter and gave some of the fruit to Adam and he ate.

Dr. Manuel Scott, a great African-American preacher tells a story about his friend. His friend’s son had gone away to university to study and came home for a visit; filled with his newly gained knowledge. “Dad,” he said one evening with importance, “now that I have been to university, I am no longer sure I can embrace your simple and child-like faith in the Bible.” The friend sat there studying the son with unblinking eyes. Finally, he said, “son that is your freedom–your terrible freedom.” That is what God gave to Adam. God gave him the freedom to choose, his terrible freedom. Many people have bought into the devil’s deception because of the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. The lesson in this verse is this: The devil or nobody can make you do anything, unless you agree to do it yourself. The only thing the serpent could do to Eve was to tempt her. It was up to Eve to decide whether she would resist or yield to the temptation. Therefore, when you fall into temptation, do not say that the devil made you do it. The devil cannot make you do anything against your will.

In verse 7, as soon as they ate the fruit, their eyes were opened as the serpent has promised them, but they did not become God. I presume this time the devil said, “I have got them.” Satan was gone because he has accomplished his purpose. Sin’s pleasure has such great appeal. They always look like real bargain; but seldom do we see clearly the hidden cost that we must bear. Sin adds to your troubles, subtracts from your energy, and multiplies to your difficulties. Sin will always promise you more than it can deliver.

Adam and Eve saw their nakedness and covered themselves (v. 7). They exchanged the light of God for darkness. They exchanged the truth for the lies of the serpent. They fell from glory to nudity (Rom. :23). Instead of becoming like God, all they saw was nakedness. “They sew fig leaves to cover themselves.” They substituted the righteousness of God with fig leaves. They sew to the flesh and reaped corruption (Gal. 6:8).

They hid themselves from the presence of God (v. 8). “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden and they hid themselves.” Here Moses is describing the approaching of God in human terms so that you and I can understand. The familiar voice of God became terrifying to them because of their sin. I remember when I was a young boy I had intimacy with my mother, but when I did something wrong, I could not go to her. I hesitated to go to her, even when she called me. That was exactly what happened to Adam and Eve. Sin separates people from God. However, God does not leave the sinner in his/her misery. The love of God pursues the sinner. God will not leave Adam and Eve in their misery and nakedness. When you are running away from God because of sin, God’s voice of tenderness and love sounds like dread to you. Adam and his wife hid themselves. They hid themselves from the presence of God. This is the worst of all sin; they sinned against God and themselves. When they were tempted, they refused to listen to their conscience. Every person has within him/her a God-given conscience. Your conscience serves as a warning light that flashes when there is a temptation. Self-interest asks, is it gratifying? Expediency asks, “Is it helpful?” Caution asks, “Is it safe?” However, conscience asks, “Is it right?” Conscience is one of God’s greatest gifts to us. It is a moral compass to keep us in the right direction. It is the divine voice in our soul. Conscience is the beacon light that God sets in all of us. The good news is that as a believer in Christ, you have not only conscience but also the indwelling person and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Adam and Eve are now hiding from God. Sin has caused many people to hide from God. The presence of God that was a delight to them has become dreadful to them. Some of you may be hiding behind drugs instead of coming to God with your problems. Some of you may be hiding from God because of the fear of rejection from others. Others are hiding from God because of their guilt and distorted view of God.

III. THE SEARCH FOR THE SINNER VV. 9-13
God sought Adam’s whereabouts (v. 9). God said, “Where are you?” This does not imply that God did not know where they were hiding. God is omniscient, He sees everything; He knows everything. He knew everything that Adam and his wife had done. He knew the very location they were hiding. God’s search for Adam was an opportunity for confession. His word to Adam had all the marks of grace. God called man when he was running away; and the Lord has been calling man ever since. Man runs away from God and thinks that he has distanced Him. The fleeing sinner can never escape the pursuit of God’s love. Shall he who made man’s feet not catch up with him? Adam said to God, “I was afraid and I hid myself.” This is the first time the word ‘afraid’ is used. God did not make man to fear him but to give Him reverence. How far sin has carried humanity is seen in this narrative. The couple that once loved to meet God the Father in the “cool of the day” is afraid and hides themselves when sin comes to separate them. The separation is all on our part, not God’s fault (Isaiah 59:1-2). Sin brings fear; sin causes people to retreat from God.

God questions man of his knowledge of his nakedness (v. 11). The man was naked, afraid, and ashamed. God asks him, “Who told you that you are naked?” Here too, God is seeking a response of confession from the man, but Adam is not willing to throw himself to the mercy of God. Sin always hardens the heart, but God’s love is greater than sin.

In verse 12, Adam plays what I call the blame game. He puts the blame on God–“the woman you gave me.” You were saying, “I have always obeyed you but since this woman came into my life, see what happened!” Adam refused to accept his responsibility for his sin. He refused to admit his sin. This is what many married couples do today. When there is a blunder, they begin to blame each other, instead of admitting their faults and trying to cooperate to insure forgiveness and harmony in the relationship. This episode in the Garden is the beginning of the deterioration of human relationships.

God turned to the woman and she also continued the blame game, she blamed the serpent. This has become many people’s alibi. Today some blame the environment where they were born for their social problems. Parents blame schools for their children’s rebellious life. Some people blame others for their own sins instead of dealing with the consequences of your actions. Sin deceives, defiles, and destroys people. The serpent thought that he had ruined the purpose of God for the human race, but God had a perfect plan for the human race. At the appointed time, God sent His only begotten son Jesus Christ (v. 15) into the world to redeem you and me. As God came looking for Adam and Eve, so did He send His Son to come looking for you and me. Jesus came to look for you and me. Jesus came to seek and save those who were lost (Luke 19:10). Sin came through Adam but righteousness, love, grace, and forgiveness came through Jesus Christ. In Adam the human race was a victim to sin, but in Christ the human race wins victory over sin. In Adam, Satan defeated the human race, but in Christ humanity was delivered from sin. In Adam we were paupers, but in Christ we are princes and princesses. In Adam we were in tragedy, but in Christ we are in triumph. God has proven His unconditional love towards us in Jesus Christ, because when we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).