For Our Own Good…

In our culture, bad news sells. So we’re ceaselessly bombarded with news about crimes, catastrophes, and other terrible situations. Even without the news media, however, adults know that we humans have a major malfunction. Something big has gone wrong when even some youngsters lie, steal, kill, rape, and terrorize fellow human beings. What’s the big problem and what can be done to solve it? Some think that the problem is ignorance and we can solve it by better education. Others think the problem is poverty and we can solve it by better standards of living. These are helpful suggestions, but they fail to identify the basic problem. The Bible teaches that the basic problem is sin. Rebellion against God and His good purposes separates us from God and alienates us from others. Sin is the root of all human brokenness and evil. God wants us to confess our sins and turn to Him for forgiveness and new life.

Phrase Study: The Tree of Life

The tree of life was one of the trees in the garden of Eden, the counterpart of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9). One of the consequences of the sin of Adam and Eve was exclusion from access to the tree of life. The tree of life will be part of the new heaven and new earth according to Revelation 22:2.

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In response to the serpent’s subtle insinuations about God, Eve recalled God’s command about the forbidden tree. The serpent told her that God had lied to her about the forbidden tree and implied that He was keeping something desirable from her. After Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, they felt shame and guilt because of their disobedience. Then God informed them of even more far-reaching consequences of their sin. Yet even in pronouncing judgment on humans, God offered hope by promising eventual victory over the serpent. But because of their sin, God banished them from access to the tree of life.

God’s Commands Are for Our Good (Gen. 3:1–3)

Who was the serpent? Why did God allow him to be there? How did he tempt the woman? Why did she listen? Why are God’s commands for our good?

Verse 1: Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

God placed the man and woman He created in a garden, told them to eat from all the trees but one, and warned them against eating of that tree. Thus God made them free to choose to love Him or to defy Him.

The serpent appears suddenly without any explanation about who he is. He is described as being more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. This shows that he was a created being, not an eternal being. He obviously was an evil being, for he soon showed that he was an enemy of God and of humans. His actions show that he was or represented the being later called Satan or the Devil. This is spelled out in Revelation 12:9 and 20:2. The serpent functioned as a tempter who sought to thwart God’s plan by leading the first man and woman to disobey God.

The words more subtle (“the most cunning,” ; “more cunning,” ; “more crafty,”, ; “sneakier,” ) reveal the serpent’s nature and intent. He knew the right words to seduce the woman into disobeying God. Satan has not changed his basic method. What worked with Eve has worked with many. He takes people by surprise, coming when we least expect him, and pretending to have our best interests at heart.

The serpent’s first words to the woman were expressed as a question, but they were more an exclamation of fake surprise. The serpent pretended to have found what he had heard hard to believe. “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?’ . Compare what God really said in 2:16–17 with what the tempter said. The emphasis is on the word “really.” The tempter ignored the many good trees in the garden and focused only on the one tree they were forbidden to eat. The beauty and bounty of the garden were not mentioned, nor did the tempter mention the tree of life. The tone of his words in Verse 1 insinuates what he later spelled out in verses 4–5: that God did not really have their welfare at heart; instead, God was holding out from them something they needed.

Verses 2–3: And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3but 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.

These verses show that the woman was beginning to take the bait. When she quoted what God had said, she followed the lead that the tempter had given her. She mentioned that God had said that they could eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but like the tempter she ignored the beauty and bounty of the garden. She even added to the seeming unfairness of God’s words a prohibition not found in 2:17. She said that they were not only forbidden to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but they also were forbidden to touch it.

As Adam and Eve later discovered, there was good reason not to eat the forbidden fruit. The command not to eat of it was for their good. Eating it brought all kinds of woe. The principle is that God’s commandments are for our good. Parents tell small children some things not to do. Don’t play with matches. Be careful when you cross the street. Why do they place such restrictions on their children? They do this because these forbidden things are dangerous, sometimes even deadly. Keeping His commands is for our good. God is not just trying to show His power. The commands are not arbitrary but designed for our well being.

What are the lasting truths in Genesis 3:1–3?

Our God-given freedoms far outnumber our prohibitions, and obeying those limitations helps us enjoy life as God intended.
2. Knowing God’s commands does not ensure that we will keep them.
3. Satan often takes us by surprise.
4. Satan pretends to have our best interests at heart when actually he seeks our ruin.

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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