Sunday, April 9, 2017

Satan's Shrewd Wording

In Genesis 3:1-5 we read the well-known story of the serpent tempting Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Part of Satan’s claim to Eve included “your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and bad.” At first I thought to myself, “What a blatant liar Satan is!” But then, knowing how Satan loves, shall we say, “turning a phrase,” (completely twisting the facts), maybe he actually told (a version of) the truth. Maybe it was like the conversation he had with Jesus centuries later. In the first two temptations, first Satan says that Jesus shouldn’t deny himself food. Jesus deserves to turn the rocks into bread. Yes, it is true that God wants people to eat -- after all, he doesn’t want people to starve to death. Jesus, however, correctly replies that misuse of God-given powers is not what he is there for. Next, Satan puts Jesus “on the battlement of the temple” and then cites a scripture that God will dispatch angels to protect Jesus if Jesus jumps. Indeed, the scripture Satan uses does say that. But once again, it is taken grossly out of context and Jesus immediately corrects Satan's sly claim by responding: “You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.” Yes, taking stupid risks is different than mistakenly taking a wrong step.

So how could Satan’s claim to Eve be viewed as cleverly true, yet shrewdly evil? Well, after both Adam and Eve sinned, their eyes were indeed opened -- opened to the gaping hole of despair and the knowledge they disappointed their Creator. As far as “knowing good and bad,” they found out that what God says is good, is good, and what God says is bad, is indeed bad. They became like God in learning (the hard way) that God alone sets the standard of acceptable conduct. And although they also became like God in becoming self-governing, they realized to their crushing disappointment, that was actually a very bad thing for humans to do. Really, what Satan did to Eve was to speak in generalities. The only specific thing Satan did lyingly, blatantly, claim is that Eve wouldn't die. If Eve had given the rest of his claims a moment of thought, she may have had a notion to ask: "Specifically how will my eyes be any more open than they are now? Specifically what good and bad is there that I don't already know? 

(As a sidenote, isn't it awkwardly interesting how, after God called Adam and Eve to account, the serpent (Satan) was noticeably quiet. Satan made no defense for what he coerced Eve to do nor did he defend Eve or even help her make a defense. He had accomplished what he set out to do -- break human integrity, perfection, and obedience. He never really had any interest in bettering the human pair's lot in life.)

The lessons I gain are twofold: First, I must have more than "surface" knowledge of God and Bible. I cannot blithely go about my life, thinking that just loving God is enough. Second, when I hear things that just don’t seem to be “on the level,” I need to take time to reflect on what I know from principles taught in the Bible to ensure there is not some hidden “got ya” in whatever the option is for me, especially ones dealing with less evident, less precise principles that may not be easily discernable. I need to ask, “What am I really being offered? What are the consequences and potential pitfalls? Is this a crafty trap?"

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