It might be helpful if we pause a little longer on the subtilty of Satan and dig a little deeper into the conversation between Satan and the woman. No doubt Adam and his wife, in the months and years that followed, mulled over their conversation with the serpent that day.
Sometimes a conversation, an argument or a confrontation can control us and carry us along and we’re not aware of the implications until after the fact when it’s too late. No doubt Adam and his wife thought about what happened in that conversation with Satan and realized what Satan actually said and how he said it. No doubt they were shocked at how deviously he had presented himself and how he had twisted words and meanings. One thing’s for sure, when they left the garden, our first parents were certainly not “ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
The complete conversation is not recorded for us. It seems that the text of Genesis three breaks into an ongoing conversation. This is indicated in the translation of the KJV, with the word “yea,” another translation would be “indeed” or “actually” (ESV). All of these words carry the meaning of the original—that this was an ongoing conversation. Perhaps the woman was hesitant to engage with the serpent, but Satan secured her attention by presenting something that demanded a response. He asked her a question. This was the barb in the hook.
It’s hard to get the hook out when it’s in past the barb—some flesh will need to be sacrificed. When sin gets our attention and gets a hold, it’s difficult to remove and detach ourselves from it. This is where the woman found herself. Having captured her attention and locked her in conversation, Satan began to devour her (1 Peter 5:8). It is a process. With Adam and the woman, it was over the course of one conversation, but it was a devious one and one in which Satan numbed the conscience and twisted the mind.
His goal was to get Adam and the woman to reject God, to turn from their Creator. But he must do it subtly, so he began by undermining their confidence in God’s Word—“hath God said.”
If we have no confidence in the authority of God’s Word, then we will have no problem disregarding it, treating it lightly or disobeying it. When God’s Word has no authority, everything goes; the mind has no anchor, the heart has no compass, the life has no direction or purpose.
Satan also cast doubt on the goodness of God. The question he asked has an element of shock and surprise; “Indeed, to think that God has said you shall not eat of any tree of the Garden.” (Hamilton). He presented himself as somewhat surprised that a good and bountiful God would limit and restrain humanity from eating of all his bounty.
God, who created all these things, is keeping some things to himself! The obvious implication that Satan wanted the woman to think about was that if God wants you to be happy, then He would not keep anything from you!!
God is not the good God you think he is—God is holding out on you! Satan reinforced this idea of a kill-joy God by giving the commands of God a negative force. He exaggerated God’s Prohibition, “Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden.”
Adam and his wife were given all of the trees of the garden for food and pleasure, except one. Satan focused on the “except one” and gave the command of God a negative force. We are too often prone to focus the attention on the cost of discipleship, rather than the glory of discipleship. We focus on the discipline and not on the joy that the discipline brings or the prize that the discipline promises (Philippians 3:14).