The first question is not is He good, but rather is He God?
Lesson 17 from The HOPE Study Guide
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said,’ You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’ And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
– Genesis 3:1–5
And so it was one day as Eve was walking in the garden near the tree of knowledge that Satan spoke to her. She was without fear, for fear had not yet come into the world. Satan asked her about the forbidden fruit. He questioned God’s warning and His motive toward man. Eve listened and began to doubt God. She considered the fruit and ate. Then she gave the fruit to Adam, and he ate. And immediately, they were aware of their nakedness and they were ashamed.
– The HOPE, Chapter 3
OBSERVE & CONSIDER
The current lesson continues our study of Satan’s interaction with Eve at the tree of knowledge. Let’s think about Satan’s tactic with Eve as recorded in the Bible passage above.
Eve told Satan what God said about the forbidden tree, “You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.” Satan responded, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”1
At first, it appears that Satan is simply contradicting God, or at least trying to re–interpret what God has said. He seems to be trying to get Eve to question whether she really heard what she thought she heard. Instigating doubt and confusion is certainly one of Satan’s primary tactics.
But if you dig more deeply, there appears to be even more to Satan’s strategy. In his line, “You surely shall not die!” you can almost hear him saying to Eve, “Oh come now. God wouldn’t do that to you …would He?” Satan is leading Eve to question God’s intentions toward her. Then he follows up with, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” This sounds like Satan is hinting that perhaps God doesn’t really want Eve to become all she can be, which would then cause her to wonder, “Does God really want what is best for me?”
At the core of this line of thinking there lurks a very dangerous question: “Is God really good?” People throughout time have stumbled over this very question. When Eve begins to ask it, slam…the trap is shut. Doubting that God is for her, she will now begin to look after her own interests.
ASK & REFLECT
Is there an area in your life where you have been hesitant to trust God?
Whenever God asks you to trust Him, you can be certain that He has revealed all you need to know about Him in order to do so. He may not have revealed all that you want to know, but He has revealed all that you need to know.
Before Eve’s encounter with Satan, she accepted what God told her about the tree of knowledge. And why shouldn’t she? She was operating from the simple yet profound belief that because God is God, whatever He says should be accepted. Notice that Satan doesn’t entice Eve to question if God is really God, but rather if He is really good. When we acknowledge and respond to God as God by trusting and obeying Him, we will discover His goodness. If we wait until obedience no longer requires faith and trust, we may never obey.
DECIDE & DO
From this story in the Bible, we can draw two very practical applications.
- Do not engage or entertain evil.2 You will not win. Eve jumped right into an engaging conversation with Satan, and into his trap. Satan was far too crafty for Eve, and he is too crafty for us as well.
- Ask yourself, “Am I waiting for God to show me more about who He is before I trust Him in a certain area?” If so, perhaps you should take a step of faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6).
FOR FURTHER STUDY
- Bob Deffinbaugh, Th.M., “Satan’s Part in God’s Perfect Plan.” (© bible.org, 2006). (https://bible.org/seriespage/satan%E2%80%99s-part-god%E2%80%99s-perfect-plan) Retrieved September 27, 2006. More on Satan: his fall, his character and conduct, Eve’s adversary in the Garden.