Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tempted Like Eve

In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul writes, "But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ." Paul expresses a deep concern for his readers, that they might fall to temptation just as Eve did in the garden. 
Why would Paul use this example? I don't think it was an accident. I think Paul is calling us to consider Adam and Eve's sin in the garden and apply those lessons to our daily walk with Christ. What caused Eve to be deceived?
--She wasn't sure of what God said. In Genesis 3 we see the exchange between Eve and the serpent. The temptation begins with a question: "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" Now this is an easy one, right? It's a yes or no question. But Eve's answer betrays an uncertainty as to God's directions. Her answer should have been a simple, "No, that's not what God said at all." Instead, her answer wasn't exactly what God had told Adam. In other words, a lack of certainty as to God's instructions led to her being deceived by the serpent.
--She added to what God said. Part of her uncertainty is revealed in the fact that she added to what God said. Eve told the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the great of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" The problem is that God hadn't said that, exactly. The phrase "neither shall you touch it" isn't found in chapter 2 when God is instructing Adam. 
--She didn't believe what God said. The serpent replied to the Eve in this way: "You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it you eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." This is the complete opposite of what God had said. There was no uncertainty, no wavering in his words. "If you eat this, you'll die", God said. "No, you won't die. You'll be improved!", says the serpent. These are opposite things so both can't be true. Eve didn't believe what God said and so she ate the fruit.
--She didn't trust what God said. God said that death would result from disobedience. In other words, God had what was best for Adam and Eve in mind when he gave them this prohibition. But Eve didn't trust that. She didn't trust that God knew what was best. She decided that she knew what was best. Gen. 3:6 says, "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." Here's what God had said; but here's what Eve could see. And rather than trusting the all-knowing, all-wise God, the one who had created them and given life to them, she trusted in her own reasoning, in her own feelings and desires. And by the way, notice that Adam was with her. That coward stood by silently and let Eve be the guinea pig before he tried the fruit. Eve is not guiltless, but Adam certainly bears his share of the blame as well.
So what are the lessons that Paul wanted the Corinthians to get, and the lessons for us from this story?
1, we need to know what God has said. In scripture we have all that God has for us. How foolish we are to not be men and women of his word! Uncertainty about what he's said never ends well for us.
2, we need to accept what God has said. Anytime we add to God's words we are presuming that we know better. The boundaries that God has drawn are all the boundaries we need. Any others we add will turn us into Pharisees and ultimately lead us to attempting to usurp God's place as ruler in our lives.
3, we need to believe what God has said. Everyday we're confronted with choices to make. Those choices must be weighed against what God has said and what man says. When what God says and what man says conflict we must decide who is telling us the truth. 
4, we need to trust what God has said. I can't count the number of times I've heard well meaning Christians encourage each other to "follow your heart", or, "listen to your instincts." That is the worst advice we can give one another! Jeremiah 17:9, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?". The prophet warns us that we can't always trust what we see. We can't trust what we feel. We can't trust what we want. But God is trustworthy! Rather than chase after what our hearts want (which invariably lead us into sin), we must learn to chase after what God calls us to! The choice before us is simply this; do I believe God has my best interests at heart, or do I believe he doesn't? Does God give me commands, both positive & negative, because he loves me and is for my good? Or does he give commands because he wants to deprive me of something. 
God is good, loving, and always wants what's best for us. We may not always realize or recognize that-but by his grace, may we learn to trust him and walk in submissive obedience to him.