When God created Adam and Eve, they were naked and unashamed (Gen. 2:25). They were comfortable with each other and innocent before God. Once they gave in to temptation, they became ashamed of their nakedness and tried to cover themselves and hide from God.
- Satan disguises himself and waits for opportunities to tempt us to sin.
- Knowing the Word of God is essential to defend against Satan's lies.
- Adam and Eve were tempted because they desired to experience more than God had allowed.
- Sin and shame breaks fellowship with God and separates us from His presence.
- God is a loving Father that calls out to, and goes after, His lost children.
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Scripture tells us that Satan is the adversary, the destroyer, accuser of the believers, and the father of lies.
In Genesis 3, we see Satan disguised as a "crafty" serpent in the garden waiting to have an encounter with Eve. Satan has a lot of experience attacking, tempting and destroying God's creation.
Satan used a systematic approach to undermine God's commandment and trick Adam and Eve into sin.
First, the serpent questioned the Word of God.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
As Eve responded to this question, she misquoted God's command.
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
When we compare her statement with Gen. 2: 16-17, we see she didn't specify which tree was off limits, and she added that even touching it would cause death. This may be subtle, but reminds us that accurately understanding the Word of God is an important defense against the crafty lies of Satan.
Next we see Satan denying the Word of God and the consequences of sin. He then goes on to replace the Word of God with his own lies.
4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
By denying the Word of God, Satan challenged the very character of God and tricked Eve to think that God was holding back blessing. Although Eve was pure and innocent, she desired to have a deeper understanding of good and evil. Instead of trusting that God was protecting her, she sought to take a short cut and gain this "special wisdom" on her own.
6 So 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 to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Once Satan removed the consequence of sin, the opportunity to gain wisdom seemed very attractive. Scripture tells us in Psalm 111 and twice in Proverbs (1:7, 9:10) (also known as the book of wisdom) that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. This type of fear means a reverent obedience to God simply because of who He is. Truly understanding the identity and nature of God leads us to trust and obey Him.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. - Psalm 111:10
Adam, who was with her, was guilty of disobeying God's command as well. Whether or not Eve heard this commandment directly from God, it was Adam's responsibility to protect his wife and remind her of God's Word.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matt. 4), Satan attacked Him in a very similar way. First Satan appealed to Jesus' physical hunger and challenged Him to turn rocks into bread. Then he claimed that there would be no consequences for disobeying God. Finally, Satan tried to get Jesus to reject the Father's will and bow to him in exchange for worldly power and authority.
With each temptation, Jesus responded with scripture that accurately refuted Satan's temptation and reinforced the proper will and character of the Father. This is a model for us to successfully overcome Satan's temptations. And it means that we must know God's Word and use it to encourage ourselves in times of temptation.
"Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You."
- Psalm 119:11
God expects us to withstand temptation. It's important to recognize that while trials and temptations are similar, there is a fundamental difference in the motivation. God tests and allows trials for us to grow, to discover our weaknesses and to seek Him for strength. Satan tempts us with the goal to destroy us. God never tempts us, (James 1:13) and God will never allow us to be tempted in a way that that is beyond our ability to endure and escape.
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."
- 1 Cor. 10:13
God has revealed Himself and His nature through His Word. To know God's Word is to know God. When we understand God's love and promises for us, we know that He does not withhold any good thing (Psalm 84:11) and He has good plans for us (Jer. 29:11). Therefore, we can trust Him to provide what we need. If He has told us not to do something, we must also trust that He is protecting us, no matter what Satan tells us.
8 And 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.
The consequences were great. Instead of walking with God and being in His presence, Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. They were separated by guilt. While they may not have suffered immediate physical death, they were now slowly moving toward that inevitable death.
9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
It's glorious news that the heart of the Father is to call out to, and go after, His lost children. We see it first as God calls out to Adam and Even in the garden. We also see it in the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20-14). When the son who was once lost came home, the father ran to meet him and celebrated his son's return.
After God completed creation, He rested. Once Adam sinned, however, God broke from His rest and went into action working to save mankind. When Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath to heal and save, He pointed to the fact that the Father was also at work.
17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father,making himself equal with God. 19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. - John 5:17-19
While Jesus finished the work of salvation at the cross, there are still many who are lost and need to receive Jesus. The Holy Spirit now empowers the Church to be Jesus' witness here on Earth (Acts 1:8). As believers, we are called to seek and to save those who are lost, just as our Father does.
Questions for further reflection or group discussion
- What are some of the strongest temptations that people face today?
- Why do you think they are so strong?
- Are they new or unique, or have they tempted prior generations?
- Do you see any repeated patterns or weak points when you give in to temptation?
- What similarities to do you see between the temptation of Eve in Genesis 3 and the temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4?
- What was different about their response to temptation?
- What can you learn from these differences?
- When you fail, (and we all do) do you try to hide from the Lord, or do you run and quickly confess? Why?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:13 aloud. Pray that God will give you wisdom and strength to overcome temptation.