In a previous study on Genesis 3—which was quite a while ago—we saw how Satan locked the woman into a conversation and then delivered a series of false promises. Her conscience will later waken up to the deceit of sin, like many who find themselves tangled in a web of consequences. During the sinful spree or in the enjoyment of sinful speculating and experiment we are blind to the consequences which will follow. Like the prodigal son, we “come to” with a sense of surprise (Luke 15:17). No doubt Adam and his wife spent many long evenings in sober contemplation, mulling through those few minutes of their life that cost them so dearly.
We should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), and it will be helpful for us to get behind the silent process of deception—what I am calling here, the pepper spray of hell.
Let me first clear away any speculation regarding when we identify the “first sin.” Many commentators and preachers identify her first sin when she added to the Word of God, “neither shall ye touch it” (2:17). Some suggest that the first indication of sin was in her doubting the Word of God when she said “lest ye die” as opposed to the definite and decisive words of the Lord “ye shall surely die.” Others have suggested that the first sin was that Adam did not restrain his wife.
James tells us; “…when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin: and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15). So, they were not entirely innocent prior to eating. However, the Bible identifies the fall into sin only after Adam had eaten the fruit. The point of eating is identified because the eating of the fruit was the completion of sin, it was the decisive and terminating act of sin.
Our interest in this study is not so much the end of the sin, but the process. There are two characteristic elements in this process.
First, Satan injected a sense of discontent with the present conditions. Satan introduced a doubt concerning the goodness and sufficiency of God. He planted the seeds of doubt and disbelief in God, a grumbling spirit, with the thought that God was holding out on her. If God loved her, why would he hold out and not give her every tree in the Garden? Why hold back on one tree. In verse six we have a very clear outline of the woman’s thought process about the tree that was forbidden.
You will see by comparing Ch. 2:9 that she thought the same thing concerning the forbidden tree as the Holy Spirit said of all the other trees in the garden; it was “pleasant to the sight and good for food.” The difference was that the tree in the midst of the garden was forbidden. This was the only identifiable difference. Eve could have looked at the tree and admired it for its beauty and appreciated it for what it was, but it was not “a tree to be desired.” The word translated “desired” is the same word that is used in the Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17).
Second, Satan made her aware of an alternative. Many have been discontent but ignorant of sinful alternatives. Satan, however, brings the full package, the toxic mix of discontent and alternative desire. We should deal with discontent before we become aware of sinful alternatives. The desire for the alternative to God’s will keeps the attention fixed on apparent “needs” and “wants.” Remember, it was not the food that Eve wanted, but the effects that the food would bring. Covetousness is never happy with the thing itself but is always searching for the satisfaction of the thing—nothing, therefore, will ever completely satisfy, and sin keeps the sinner in a continual state of worldly ambition—“the pride of life…” (I John 2:16)
This is how Satan tricked our first parents, and his devices have not changed in our day. By contrast, one of the characteristics of Christ was that he would know and do what Adam refused to do; reject the evil; Isaiah 7:14-15 “… He may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.”
“If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot.” John Bunyan