Introduction: Genesis chapter three provides the explanation for the origin of mankind’s downfall after Eve gave into Satan’s temptations and Adam followed her example. Satan is the enemy of every person. Before Adam and Eve sinned, he led a third of the angels in rebellion against God. In the book of Revelation, he is revealed to be the serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden: “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Rev. 12:9). “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;” (Rev. 20:2). Ezekiel further reveals that he was an anointed cherub on God’s holy mountain before his beauty caused him to desire to be lifted higher than God: “13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; . . . 14 You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; . . . 15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you . . . 17 Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; . . .” (Ezek. 28:13-17). Isaiah also reveals that his beauty caused him to desire to be like God: “12 How you have fallen from heaven, o star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, . . . 13 But you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. 15 Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.” (Is. 14:12-15). Having been expelled from heaven, his goal is to prevent as many people as possible from getting to heaven. Perhaps he is under the deluded belief that if he can cause enough people to be prevented from getting to heaven, he could make demands upon God. Yet, he is powerless against God, and his plans will fail. His schemes also never change. From his temptations against Eve, the Bible reveals seven lessons about Satan’s schemes for deceiving mankind and breaking its fellowship with God.
First, from Satan’s attempts to twist God’s Word, God reveals that Satan will seek to deceive you by twisting or manipulating His Word. Second, from Satan’s manipulation of Eve after she failed to correctly repeat God’s Word, God reveals that Satan is more likely to deceive you when you do not know the Word. Third, from Satan’s use of bold lies and half-truths, God reveals that Satan will also use bold lies and half-truths to try to deceive you. Fourth, through Eve’s covetousness and Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God reveals that Satan will also seek to seduce you with covetousness and rebellion to break your fellowship with God. Fifth, from God’s gentle questioning of Adam and Eve, He reveals that He is slow to anger and quick to forgive. Yet, through His questions of Adam and Eve, He reveals that He desires repentance when you sin. Sixth, through God’s judgments, He reveals that He seeks to restore mankind, include you, from the separation and broken fellowship caused by sin. Finally, from God’s provision for Adam and Eve after they sinned, He reveals that He will never leave or forsake His people when they sin.
Satan’s manipulation of God’s Word to deceive Eve. After God created a paradise for Adam and Eve, Satan came to destroy God’s people. He inhabited the body of a serpent and tempted Eve by twisting God’s Word: “1 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’?’” (Gen. 3:1). From this account and from Jesus’ later act of casting demons out of a person and into a herd of pigs, we learn that Satan and his demons can inhabit animals (Matt. 8:31). Satan also at one pointed entered Judas (Lk. 22:3). When you allow him to control your actions, Jesus reveals that he becomes your “father” (Jo. 8:44). Eve must have communed with both God and His angels. Thus, she must have assumed that she was talking with an angel during this encounter. Satan played into Eve’s naivety by twisting God’s Word. God offered to allow Adam and Eve to eat from any tree except for one: “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’” (Gen 2:16-17). Satan twisted God’s Word to suggested that He prohibited her from eating any fruit from the Garden. He also omitted God’s promise that they could “freely eat” of any other tree (Gen. 2:16). His goal was to cause Eve to think that God was holding back the best things from her. He further changed God’s name from “the Lord God” (Yahweh Elohim) that Adam and Eve used in Chapter two to just God (Elohim). The name Yahweh symbolized the God of the covenant who sought out a personal relationship with Adam and Eve. By omitting the name Yahweh, Satan was sowing the seeds of doubt that God was a personal God who cared about Eve. By using the name Elohim alone, Satan falsely suggested that God is powerful yet distant. Satan uses the same forms of deceit against the Church and against you today.
Satan also twisted the Word in a failed attempt to tempt Jesus. After Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, Satan sought to tempt Him. Satan tested Jesus by saying that Jesus could end His hunger by turning the rocks around Him into bread (Matt. 4:3). Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”’ (Matt. 4:4). The words that Jesus quoted were in direct reference to Him as the Messiah. In Hebrew, a definite article appears before the word “man.” The sentence is literally translated as “the man does not live by bread alone, but the man lives by every word of God.” Jesus was referred to 88 times in the New Testament as the “son of Man.” This was a reference to Him as the Messiah. Jesus was telling the devil that “the Messiah” lives upon God’s Word, not bread. Jesus would not take the shortcuts that the devil offered. Nor should you. Jesus was the Word that came from God’s mouth and became flesh (John 1:1, 14). Just as Satan twisted the Word with Eve and Jesus, he will try to do the same with you.
Satan also twists the Word to make you feel that God is distant and holding back the best. Satan acts like a lion (1 Pet. 5:8). Like a lion, he attacks the members of the herd who are weak or who have strayed from the flock. Thus, we are told not to forsake the fellowship (Heb. 10:25). Jesus also warns that He is sending us as “sheep” amongst the wolves (Matt. 10:16). We have no natural defenses outside of the flock. Over the centuries, Satan has exploited those who strayed from the flock to start new cults and false religions. He has also twisted the Word to create divisions within the Church. He has also twisted the Word to cause people to doubt it as true. People have assumed the creation accounts are myths. Many also falsely assume that the Word is a forgery created by multiple authors. Are you regularly reading His Word to guard your heart?
Satan will tempt you when you don’t know God’s Word. Eve made seven mistakes in dealing with Satan. They all shared a common theme of failing to know God’s Word: “2 The woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 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.’’” (Gen. 3:2-3). First, Eve made the mistake of engaging in a conversation with Satan. Even if she did not know who he was, she knew that the person was trying to sow doubt about God. She should have submitted to God and resisted the devil (Jam. 4:7). Second, because she did not know God’s Word, she saw Him as legalistic. She added prohibitions that He never gave her. He never gave any prohibition on touching the fruit. Her response reflected her belief that God’s rules were arbitrary. Third, as an additional result of failing to know God’s Word, she minimized God’s grace by dropping the words “any” and “freely” from the trees that she could eat from. Fourth, she minimized the certainty of her death by dropping the word “surely” from the word die. Fifth, she spoke of the location of tree without describing its significance. With her false understanding of God’s Word, she allowed Satan to cause her to see that God would not kill her by touching the forbidden fruit. This in turn allowed her to believe that God’s warning of death if she ate the fruit was also a lie. Sixth, she followed Satan’s lead by dropping the word “Yahweh” in referring to God. This suggested that she saw God as a powerful yet distant God, not the God of the covenant who sought a personal relationship with her. Finally, because she did not know God’s Word, she did not fear Him and later gave in to Satan’s temptations: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Prov. 9:10; 1:7; Ps. 111:10; Job 28:28). This fear is defined as hating evil: “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; . . .” (Prov. 8:13). If she really feared the Lord, she would have had no interest in a tree that included the knowledge of “evil”.
The Church makes the same mistakes as Eve when the devil confronts it. The Church is the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2). Like the first bride, the Church makes the same mistakes when confronted with Satan’s deceit. First, like Eve, the Church has failed to resist Satan’s attacks. Second, like Eve, the Church views God’s rules as legalistic burdens. The Church no longer views the Ten Commandments as God’s means to protect the Church from sin. It instead views God’s rules as legalistic burdens that deprive believers of true joy. Third, like Eve, the Church minimizes God’s mercy and grace because it does not fully know His Word. Jesus says that he comes not just to give life but also to give it “abundantly” (Jo. 10:10). Fourth, just as Eve minimized the certainty of God’s punishment, the Church uses the doctrine of “greasy grace” to minimize the certainty of the consequences of sin. Fifth, the Church fails to understand the significance of the Word in protecting it from sin. Sixth, just as Even dropped the name “Yahweh” from “Eloheim”, the Church views God as powerful yet distant from the lives of its members. Finally, because the Church does not know the Word, it no longer fears God. It also no longer “hates” evil enough to preach against it in love (Prov. 8:13).
Rebuke the devil, and he will flee. Through Eve’s mistakes, God reveals that you should never engage with the devil. Instead, God has given you the power to resist Satan and drive him away by rebuking him in faith in Jesus’ name. Jesus’ name is so powerful that the mere use of His name by the archangel Michael was able to drive Satan away: “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!”’ (Jude 1:9). The Apostle James also admonished: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (Jam. 4:7). Likewise, Peter also admonished: “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Pet. 5:9). Have you rebuked Satan’s attacks? Or, have you invited them through your actions?
Flee temptation. At one point, Eve had to be admiring the forbidden fruit before Satan used it to tempt her. From this, God warns you to control what you fill your eyes with (Matt. 5:28). Yet, if you forget to rebuke the devil, God promises not place you in a place beyond your ability to resist the temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). When Potiphar’s wife was alone with Joseph, he could have given in to her advances and experienced a moment of pleasure without being caught. Yet, he refused to do evil in God’s eyes (Gen. 39:6-9). He knew that God would have known his sins if he had agreed. When he failed to stop her advances, he fled (Gen. 39:12). You also are commanded to “flee” temptation: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:22). Because of Adam and Eve’s sin, your desires are distorted (Gen. 3:15-16; Rom. 8:20). God knows that you are destined for bondage if you try to reason with temptation. Before God gave the Ten Commandments, He declared: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Ex. 20:2). His rules are meant to protect you from bondage. Through Jesus’ death, your body was bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20). You are now His servant (Lev. 25:55). You were once a slave to sin. Now, be a slave to righteousness (Ro. 6:17-18). Are you “fleeing” temptation? (2 Tim. 2:22). Or, are you hanging out with people or doing things that will you lead back to bondage?
Satan’s lie to Eve that she could eat the forbidden fruit and still live. After Satan played upon Eve’s false understanding that she could not touch the fruit, he deceived her into thinking that God’s Word was not true and that she could eat the fruit without dying. He deceived her with the boldness of his lie: “4 The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die! 5 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.’” (Gen. 3:4). Satan lied without equivocation. His lies were both bold and confident. His boldness no doubt was the final push that Eve needed to give into temptation. He also mixed a lie with a half-truth. He knew that Adam and Eve would die an immediate spiritual death. Yet, their physical death would not be immediate. Thus, his words were both a lie and a half-truth at the same time. Seeing Eve still alive after eating from the fruit, Adam may have concluded that God’s warnings were untrue. The confusion that Satan exploited still exist today. Many falsely teach (with no Scriptural evidence) that animal death on Earth did not exist before Adam and Eve’s sin. Yet, if that were true, Jesus’ death at the cross should have ended the physical death of both animals and humans. It did no such thing. Instead, just as the first Adam brought a spiritual death, the second Adam (Jesus) brought eternal spiritual life: “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” (Ro. 5:12-13). An animal cannot avoid death by accepting Christ as their Savior. Animal death was further necessary for many animals to survive. The dolphin, for example, gets its water from eating other fish. Animal predation also serves an important role in controlling populations and preventing overgrazing. God’s warning of death would further have had no meaning to Adam and Eve if they had never witnessed any form of death in the animal kingdom. The Bible does contain promises of the end of animal predation while Jesus rules during the Millennial Reign (Is. 11:6). Yet, the assumption that animal predation did not exist under Adam and Eve’s brief reign is not rooted in any Scriptural text.
Satan’s promise to be like God. Satan uses the same forms of deceit today that he did with Adam and Eve. He made a similar promise to Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons: “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.” (Doctrine and Covenants 132:20-21). Joseph Smith made a similar promise in one of his sermons: “Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power... What is it? To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before.”1 In June of 1840, Lorenzo Snow, the then President of the Mormon Church, also promised God-like deity for his members: “As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.”
Satan is actively seeking to entice us to worship Him, yourself, or anything else but God. Satan also uses similar tools of lies, half-truths and deceit to cause you to sin: “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.” (Dt. 11:16; 30:17). Throughout the Bible he has tried to entice God’s people to turn from God by worshiping other gods, idols, or other men. (e.g., “Baal” and “Ashtaroth” - Judges 2:13-15; 10:6-14; Dan. 3:5-18; “the creation” Ro. 1:25). During the end times Satan will again seek to have others worship him (Rev. 13:8-12). The day of judgment will come after Satan again “exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” (2 Thess. 2:1-4). If you covet prestige, you have succumb to the same sin as Satan. Only when you are humble can He exalt you: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time,” (1 Pet. 5:6).
Adam’s greater sin in rebelling against God’s Word. Once Satan succeeded in causing Eve to no longer fear God, she gave into covetousness and what seemed pleasing to the eye. Even worse, she compounded her sin by leading her husband to sin as well: “6 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. 7 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 coverings.” (Gen. 3:6-7). In Latin, the word for “forbidden fruit” is “malum.” As an adjective, the word means “evil.” As a noun, it means “apple.” As a result, in Europe a tradition in art and literature arose referring to the forbidden fruit as an apple. There is, however, no Biblical support for the idea that Adam and Eve ate an apple. Finally, although Eve sinned first, Adam carried the greater sin because he broke God’s commandment without being deceived by Satan: “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Tim. 2:14). Thus, Adam’s sin was not a failure to know God’s Word. He simply refused to follow it. If you know God’s Word and have simply refused to follow it, you also have a greater sin.
Satan can only offer fleeting counterfeit pleasures. The pleasure Satan offers for the adulterer does not last long (Heb. 11:25; Luke 12:19-20). In reference to sinners, David said: “[God] gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Ps. 106:105).
Satan seeks to place people into bondage to sin. Satan’s ultimate goal is to place people into bondage and cause them to turn away from God. He seeks to make us slaves to the flesh. Ultimately, this can become a form of idolatry. According to the Apostle Paul, we are slaves to whatever we serve: “Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?” (Ro. 6:16; Gal. 4:7-9). Jesus also explains that “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21; Luke 12:34). Satan has placed our flesh at war with God’s Spirit: “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, promiscuity . . .” (Gal. 5:19; same 1 Tim. 1:10). In the end, you must pick that which you will serve: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24). If you choose the flesh, you are at war with the Spirit: “[T]he mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God . . .” (Rom 8:7). “[A]nd those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Ro. 8:8). God further says that only “fools mock at sin . . .” (Prov. 14:9). A sinner can become “bound by the cords” of “sin” if the person does not repent (Prov. 5:22). “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions . . . ” (Ro. 1:26). The unrepentant sinner will become like a dog that returns to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:22). Are you in a place where you can be trapped in your sins?
Sin has broken your fellowship with God. Once Adam and Eve had rebelled against God, their fellowship with Him was broken. Although God knows all things, His question reflected His grief that their connection of fellowship was severed by their sin: “8 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. 9 Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ 10 He said, ‘I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.’” (Gen. 3:8-10). God knows all things. He knew that Satan started the temptation and rebellion. Yet, He started His questions with the person in charge, Adam. God’s actions and His questions were calculated to cause Adam and Eve to repent and seek to renew their fellowship with God. Thus, God began the encounter by stressing the fellowship that Adam and Eve have lost with God through their sin and rebellion. Bible commentator Kenneth Mathews explains: “The anthropomorphic description of God “walking” (mithallek) in the garden suggests the enjoyment of fellowship between Him and our first parents . . .’ ‘Walked with God’ is a favorite expression in Genesis, depicting the righteous conduct of Israel’s heroes, including Enoch, Noah and Abraham2. . . God is depicted as a gentle father seeking out His own. . . God initiates the dialogue by calling out to the man, ‘Where are you”’ (v. 9). The question is rhetorical and is designed to prompt Adam to consider his wrongdoing.”3
Adam and Eve lost their angelic clothing of righteousness. By Jewish tradition, Adam and Eve glowed like angels before their sin: “In these luminous garments, they resembled heavenly beings. After their sin, the glory faded, leaving the man and his wife naked in the garden.”4 Regarding their nakedness, Bible commentator David Guzik also observes that: “Psalm 104:2 and Matthew 17:2 suggest that light can be a garment for the righteous. It may be that Adam and Eve were previously clothed in Gods glorious light, and the immediate loss of this covering of light left them feeling exposed and naked.”
God is slow to anger and quick to forgive. These verses show that God’s goal with any sinner is to rehabilitate, not to punish: “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;”’ (Ex. 34:6). “The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.” (Ps. 145:8). These verses in Genesis show that He wanted to forgive Adam and Eve if only they had repented to Him.
Unrepentant sin will cause you to blame others for your actions. Although their eyes were “opened” they were simultaneously blinded by sin. Sin can harden your heart when you embrace it (Rom. 7:11; Heb. 3:13). Thus, neither Adam nor Eve repented. Instead, they blamed others for their own actions: “11 And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ 12 The man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’ 13 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.’” (Gen. 3:11-13). Adam first blamed Eve. He then blamed God for giving Eve to him. Eve also blamed the serpent for her actions.
Satan seeks to have you both rationalize and excuse you sins. The devil will also try to have you rationalize your sins. Later in the book of Genesis, Sarai blamed God for her inability to bear children. She had waited 10 years for God to fulfill his promise. Yet, she then was not willing to wait any longer (Gen. 11:30; 16:1-3). When Sarai proposed that Abram sleep with her maid Hagar, Abram failed to seek God’s guidance (Gen. 15:1-4; 16:2; 25:21; Jam. 1:5). Abram likely rationalized that God had meant for him to sleep with his wife’s servant based upon what God previously promised to him (Gen. 15:4). Have you allowed the devil to rationalize your sins and rebellions against God?
Unrepentant sin can also “hinder” your prayers. God’s question to Adam “where are you?” also symbolically represented the broken ability of God to hear Adam’s prayers. When you obey God, He can clearly hear your prayers (Jam. 5:16). Conversely, when you openly sin, your prayers will be “hindered” (1 Pet. 3:7; Jo. 9:31; Ps. 66:18; Prov. 28:9; Isa. 1:15). The reason for this is that sin cannot be in God’s presence, and He “cannot look on wickedness.” (Hab. 1:13). When you act righteously, your prayers are a sweet aroma (Ps. 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:3). Yet, when you are in open rebellion, your prayers are putrid. Thus, for your prayers to be unhindered, you must repent of your sins. God promises that when you confess your sins He will forgive you (1 John 1:9).
Satan is cursed and will be crushed through Jesus’ judgment. For his actions, God cursed Satan with a prophesy that a future descendant of Adam and Eve - - the Messiah - - would ultimately crush him for his actions: “14 The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; 15 and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.’” (Gen. 3:14-15). “Once again the order is inverted, corresponding to the order of the culprits’ collusion . . . Curses are uttered against the serpent and the ground, but not against the man and woman, implying that the blessing has not been utterly lost.”5 The “seed” of the woman and later Abraham was a foreshadow of Christ (Heb. 2:16) (KJV). To be connected to Adam and Eve’s seed, He was “born of a woman.” (Gal. 4:4). Through His death at the cross, He judged and defeated Satan. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (Ro. 16:20).
The judgement that Satan caused to mankind can only be broken through faith in Jesus. Satan’s attempt to torment mankind and Christ’s relief for His suffering people was later foreshadowed by the bronze serpent that Moses created in the wilderness. God allowed “fiery serpents” to bite the people of those who rebelled against Him. Many died from these bites (Nu. 21:6). God, however, wanted to heal His people (Ex. 15:26). Thus, He commands: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” (Is. 45:22). He stated that only those who looked upon the raised bronze serpent would live (Nu. 21:8). Bronze was the metal of judgment in the Bible. The altar of judgment was overlaid with bronze (Ex. 27:2). The raised bronze serpent represents a sinner who was condemned. The rabbis taught that it was faith alone in following God’s instructions that allowed the Jews to be healed. There was no act by the Jews that brought them salvation (m.Rosh Hashanah 3:8). The Hebrew word for “standard” “nes” is also the same word for “miracle.” Thus, some rabbis taught that Moses threw the bronze serpent in the air, and it stayed there. In other words, the fiery serpent took on the sins of the people, (2 Cor. 5:21) and it was set on “a miracle”. Jesus later explained that he would also need to be lifted up, just like the bronze serpent: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life” (Jo. 3:14-15). He stood as a “signal for the people.” (Is. 11:10). Being “lifted up” foreshadowed His crucifixion (Jo. 12:32-33). He was lifted up or resurrected by a “nes” or a miracle. Like the Jews in the wilderness, you have all been bitten by Adam and Eve’s original sin. Yet, with the antidote of faith in Christ alone, you will no longer experience torment or eternal death from the serpent’s venom (Mk. 16:17-18).
Satan’s temptation has brought a curse upon women in childbirth. Even though mankind can be saved from eternal death through faith in Christ, there remain consequences for mankind on Earth. One of these consequences is that women are cursed with more painful child births than God initially intended: “16 To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you will bring forth children; . . .” (Gen. 3:16(a)). This does not mean that child birth would have been pain free without original sin. Instead, God multiplied the pain that Eve would have naturally experienced.
Satan’s goal is to break down the institution of marriage and destroy its purpose. Satan’s first attack in the garden of Eden caused people to question God. His second attack was to set Adam and Eve against each other: “ . . . yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16(b)). His goal has always been to break down all authority, including marriage, through rebellion. His goal is to create chaos and misery. Jesus once quoted a prophesy: “I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.” (Mark 14:23). Upon His arrest, the disciples scattered. When a marriage is shattered through the sins of conflict, physical abuse, adultery, or substance abuse the husband, the wife, and the children will frequently scatter from God’s protection.
Satan’s temptation has brought a curse upon the Earth and your labors. Adam’s actions brought a curse upon the entire Earth: “17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 ‘Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; 19 by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’” (Gen 3:17-19). All creation was “subjected to futility”: “19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” (Ro. 8:19-22). Adam lost title to the Earth, allowing Satan to temporarily become the ruler of the Earth (Jo. 12:31; Eph. 2:2). Yet, Christ has come to redeem mankind from this curse on the Earth (Gal. 3:13). He alone has the power to take the scroll assuming title to the Earth (Rev. 5:4-6). David Guzik observes: “Thorns came with sin and the fall, and Jesus endured a crown of thorns to bring our salvation (John 19:2); Sin brought sweat, and Jesus sweat, as it were, great drops of blood to win our salvation (Luke 22:44); Sin brought sorrow, and Jesus became a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, to save us (Isaiah 53:3); Sin brought death, and Jesus tasted death for everyone that we might be saved (Hebrews 2:9).”
Satan cannot cause God to leave or forsake His people. Although Satan’s goal was to cause God to destroy mankind, God’s goal is always to restore His greatest creation. Thus, even in their sin, He showed His love for mankind by clothing and providing for them: “20 Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. 21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:20-21). Even when you sin, He will never stop loving you (Jo. 3:16).
Let God clothe you in righteousness. Like He did for Adam and Eve, God also gave the priests animal’s skins from the sacrifices to wear (Lev. 1:6; 7:8). You also are in need of new clothes. Your own acts are but filthy rags to God: “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; . . . ” (Is. 64:6). Those who try to get to heaven without the wedding garments for marriage to Christ will be thrown out (Matt. 22:12-13). Jesus, however, offers to clothe you in His fine clothes: “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (Rev. 3:5). Are you looking to be clothed in His righteousness?
Mankind’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Finally, because there are consequences for sin, mankind could not remain in the Garden of Eden in mankind’s fallen state until mankind could be restored: “22 Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.” (Gen. 3:22-24). God knew that mankind could not cling to Him when it embraced sin while still living in a paradise without conflict. We only need to look to the Millennial Reign to see that Satan will again tempt mankind in paradise and succeed when it lives in a problem-free world (Rev. 20:7-9). Thus, God expelled mankind from the Garden of Eden so that it would again cling to Him. You are also more likely to cling to God when there are challenges in your life. Thus, give praise when your trials bring you closer in your relationship with Jesus, your Lord and Savior: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (Jam. 1:2-3). Do you praise Him for your trials?
Joseph Smith– King Follett Sermon, Ensign, April 1971↩︎
Gen. 5:22, 24; 6:9; 17:1; 24:40; 48:15.↩︎
Kenneth Mathews, “The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture” Genesis 1-11:26, Vol. 1A, (B&H Publishing Group Nashville Tenn. 1996) p. 240-1.↩︎
First Fruits of Zion, Torah Club, Vol. 2, Shadows of the Messiah, Genesis, B’Reisheet, p. 15.↩︎
Kenneth Mathews, p. 243.↩︎