The Challenge in the Garden

CONSEQUENTLY, JUST AS THE RESULT OF ONE TRESPASS WAS CONDEMNATION FOR ALL MEN, SO ALSO THE RESULT OF ONE ACT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WAS JUSTIFICATION THAT BRINGS LIFE FOR ALL MEN.
ROMANS 5:18

God, the protagonist of His story, created the world and everything in it. He fashioned Adam and Eve in His own image and gave them a perfect place to live. They wanted for nothing, for He provided for all of their needs. But it wasn’t long before the enemy of God—the “antagonist” in our story—slithered into the garden to challenge Adam and Eve’s God-given dominion over the earth. 

Throughout Church history, the serpent has been identified as Satan—or at least a beast possessed by Satan. The New Testament writers referred to Satan as “the tempter” and “the father of lies” (see Matthew 4:3; John 8:44). Later, the apostle John would clearly identify Satan, the one who leads the whole world astray, as “that ancient serpent called the devil” (Revelation 12:9).

Satan’s first target was Eve, and his tactic was to cause her to question God’s word. He asked, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). Eve responded, “We may eat from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’” (verse 3, emphasis added). Immediately Satan challenged her. “You will not surely die . . . for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (verses 4-5). 

Did you catch what Eve added to God’s word? Such is the subtlety of deception. To have knowledge of good and evil means to be the one who determines what is good and evil or what is true or untrue. Thus, when Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit, they were in effect saying, “We reject the notion that God is the only one who determines what is right or wrong. We will determine for ourselves what is good for us.” In a distorted way, Satan was right—by choosing to believe it was their prerogative to determine what was right and wrong, they would be acting like gods. 

The immediate consequence of Adam and Eve’s rebellion was spiritual death, for their souls were no longer in union with God. The Lord banished them from the Garden of Eden (see verse 23), and because they no longer had access to the tree of life, physical death would soon follow. Every descendant of Adam and Eve from that day forward would be born physically alive but spiritually dead (see Ephesians 2:1). They would have neither the presence of God in their lives nor the knowledge of His ways. In addition, Adam and Eve forfeited their right to rule and allowed Satan to become the rebel holder of authority in this world (see John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4). 

Satan thought he had thwarted God’s plan, but the Lord responded by promising that one day a future descendant of Eve would crush him: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Satan would inflict damage on the people of God, but the seed of the woman would strike the fatal blow by crushing the serpent’s head. This promise would be fulfilled in Christ’s victory over Satan.

QUESTIONS TO PONDER:

  1. Read Genesis 3:1-7. In what ways were Adam and Eve’s “eyes opened” after they disobeyed God and sinned?
  2. Why do you think Satan was able to tempt Eve by promising she would be like God? How does he tempt people today with the same false promise?
  3. What were the immediate and lasting consequences of Adam and Eve’s rebellion? How does that affect us today?
  4. Considering what Adam and Eve lost during the Fall, what would Jesus have to do in order to save humanity?
  5. Since the devil is still roaring around like a hungry lion, how can you protect yourself from being deceived?

Neil T. Anderson

Neil T. Anderson is the founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries. He began the ministry in 1989 and continues to spread the message of freedom to this day.NEIL T. ANDERSONJULY 21, 2020

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