Temptation Strikes at “Me” (Gen. 3:4–6)
What outright lie did the tempter tell? What did he promise would be found by the woman and the man if they ate the forbidden fruit? When does temptation become sin? What is the basic human sin? Why is sin so serious?
Verses 4–6: And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Jesus said that the Devil is a liar and the father of liars (John 8:44). In verses 1–3 we see him using insinuations and half-truths. Verse 4 is a deliberate lie. Eve had correctly quoted God as saying that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die (v. 3). The Devil’s response was to deny they would die: Ye shall not surely die. The tempter still uses this same lie today. He denies that forbidden sins will have serious consequences. He denies the reality of hell. He convinces sinners that a God of love would not punish anyone, especially the people being tempted, by sending them to hell.
True, God did not strike Adam and Eve dead when they sinned, but they lost their relationship with God and their access to the tree of life. Death became their fate and that of their posterity. Their first encounter with death was looking at the body of their dead son, who was killed by his brother. Sin and death always go together. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23).
Satan had insinuated that God was holding out on them. Now in verse 5 he made this charge official. He gave his own explanation about why God had forbidden them to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He said, “God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” . The gist of what he meant was that God was keeping Eve and Adam from experiencing the full life. Children often feel that their parents make arbitrary rules and restrictions to keep them from enjoying the rich, full life of the adult world. They feel that if they were free of parental restrictions, they would find more than they have experienced. They may assume that their parents do not love them by withholding from them what they want to do. The Devil was suggesting to Eve that God did not really love her because He forbade them from eating the fruit of this tree.
What Satan did not tell Eve was that with the knowledge of good and evil they would experience evil but find it unsatisfying. “The serpent spoke only about what she would gain and avoided mentioning what she would lose in the process.”
Being tempted is not the same as committing sin. Up to this point Eve had been tempted. At some point the person being tempted can either reject the temptation or yield to it. Eve had several points when she could have resisted the temptation. When the serpent first asked her about the restriction concerning the forbidden tree, she could have reminded herself and told the tempter about the garden filled with beautiful and bountiful trees and the tree of life. Instead, she listened to the tempter and bought into his insinuations and lies. She began to focus only on this one tree. Satan lied about God’s warning of death, and he lured her by promising two things. She would receive knowledge of good and evil that she felt God had arbitrarily kept from her, and with this knowledge she would be like God.
Eve now saw the tree in light of the Devil’s lies. Verse 6 shows that she saw the tree of the knowledge of good and evil differently than God intended. She transferred to this tree all the true characteristics of the other trees in the garden. Genesis 2:9 refers to the other trees as “pleasant to the sight, and good for food.” Now the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes. In other words, she saw in this forbidden tree the satisfaction God intended that she find in the other trees. God wants people to have the good life, but the tempter says that this good life is not found in obeying God and walking in His ways but in getting what one wants in his or her own way. This is at the heart of human sin. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).
Eve’s temptation definitely became sin when she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat. She expressed her lack of trust in God by this act of rebellion. The four key words in the verse are saw … desired … took … gave. She not only involved herself but also her husband. She gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. This may indicate that Adam had been listening to the conversation between the tempter and his wife. This view is supported by the serpent’s use of ye and of the woman’s use of we. Both are plural. All we know for sure was that Adam—apparently without objection—ate the forbidden fruit. Later he tried to blame the woman, but God held him fully accountable.
Sin is not brave rebellion against a heavenly tyrant but sin against a loving Father. God had placed Adam and Eve in a good creation, specifically in a beautiful and bountiful garden. Best of all, He wanted them to walk with Him. His love for them was apparent, but they doubted that love and rebelled against that loving God.
What are the lasting truths in Genesis 3:4–6?
Being tempted is not the same as committing sin. Only when we yield to the temptation do we commit sin.
2. With God’s help we can resist temptation.
3. Our sins influence others to sin.
4. Sin is distrust and rebellion against God.
5. Turning from God into our own way is the basic human sin.