Satan marked out the lines of battle early on. It was a clear line, drawn between the Word of God and the word of Satan. The woman must now choose between the two. There was no middle ground, no neutrality. In a previous study, we saw that Satan locked her into a conversation by asking her a question.
The subtle beginnings soon morphed into an all-out attack. This was a change in tactic (Edward J. Young, 33). Everything was out in the open. He moved from doubting God to radical and reckless infidelity.
In the discourse that followed between the serpent and the woman, Satan made three promises in verses four and five; the promise of impunity, of improvement, and of independence.
First, he promised impunity from sin; “you shall not die at all.” Satan’s words correspond exactly to the words of God, except for the additional negative. God said, “you will certainly die.” Satan said, “you will certainly not die.” The placement of the words is also important. The “no” is placed first, giving it emphasis. “It is a powerful negative, clearly spoken so that Eve must now choose between God and the serpent” (Young, 33).
The curse of death is false, Satan said, there are no consequences to the eating of this fruit—there is total impunity, you are free to eat without any negative consequences. Who will she trust?
Think of it this way. A dangerous precipice, a cliff with a danger sign in place to keep people from the danger of falling over. Satan comes along and takes the danger sign down from the edge of the precipice. He says to fall will not have any negative effect, there is no danger, this sign was misleading, let’s remove it (Cf.Deuteronomy 29:19).
Second, Satan promised improvement; “Your eyes shall be opened.” Here is the promise of improved knowledge; to know both good and evil. Freedom from the limited and constricted way that God had made them and purposed them to live. What Satan said was true, their eyes would be opened. But what Satan promised was false, for their eyes were opened in a way they never anticipated (Vs. 7), and in another way, they were blinded (1 John 2:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:40). We can speak the truth but mean a lie—and this we learned from Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44).
Adam was already extremely advanced in his knowledge. He had named the animals (2:20). He knew what good was and also that evil was to be rejected. He had the knowledge and power to recognize and to reject evil. Satan promised him an opening up of his mind and advancements. Sin is always presented as an advancement, as something that will benefit us, improve our lives, or broaden our experience.
Notice the venom, the unimaginable deception as Satan led the infant humanity to the rim of the deadly precipice. Having removed the danger sign, he replaced it with a sign reading Play Area. “There is no danger here.” “In fact,” he said essentially, “this is an exciting adventure you’re about to experience.” Standing looking down over the cliff unto the bottomless pit, Satan convinced the woman of the exhilarating thrill of a free-fall.
Third, Satan promised independence – “Ye shall be as God.” The word “gods” in the Authorised Version is better understood as “God,” singular. The promise is that they would be like God Himself. The context shows us that the struggle was between Satan and the true God. Satan is playing God off of humanity and vice versa. He is driving a wedge between God and His creation.
Satan promised Adam and Eve that they would be like God. Obviously not likeness to God in holiness, but the likeness to God in power and knowledge and self-sufficiency (Isaiah 14:14). It was a coup for the throne of God.
The knowledge of good and evil is linked to being “like God.” A higher intelligence would mean that they would no longer depend on God but would be independent of God. They would not need God, no longer depending on God for instruction and guidance.
How often does this promise come still from Satan, do this one thing and you will be complete, you will be fulfilled, there will be nothing else you will need or want. Sin is always presented to us as the full and final element in our quest for happiness. Completeness is always held out as the goal of sin, everything else is insignificant, unimportant, and trivial except that one thing that the devil presently holds before us.
“Nothing hath cost men dearer than striving to be like God in greatness and power, rather than in goodness and holiness and truth.”(Thomas Manton, 19:170).