It started in the garden. The serpent tempted Eve first with a thought, “Did God really say …?” The first step in his deception was to get her to doubt God and he’s still whispering the same question today.
Also read about the danger of thinking we’re smarter than God, the importance of honoring parents and some examples of fulfilled prophecy.
Genesis 3 & 4
Did God really say …?
God had created the man and the woman and placed them in the garden to tend and keep it (2.15). He left them with just one commandment:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2.16-17).
But sadly, they would listen to another voice:
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’” (v. 3.1)
The New Living Translation says, “’Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?’”
Nothing much has changed. The devil is still whispering the same questions today, trying to get us to doubt God’s Word, to believe He’s withholding something good from us, and get us to think we can decide what is right and wrong.
“Did God really say … that homosexuality is wrong?”
“Did God really say … that you should submit to your husband in everything? What if he’s wrong? What if you’re more spiritual? Did God really mean everything?”
“Did God really say … you must forgive when someone has hurt you deeply?”
You Won’t Die
And then there is verses 4 and 5:
4 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
“… you won’t die …” In other words, God’s a liar.
“It won’t hurt you, in fact, God is withholding something good from you! You can be like God and do what you please!”
“It’s OK to flirt with someone else’s husband. You’re not doing anything wrong. It’s all in fun.”
“Go ahead. Do ___________ (you fill in the blank).”
“No one will know.”
“Just one time won’t hurt you.”
“You deserve it.”
But remember Jesus said, Satan is the father of lies (Jn. 8.44). And he’s had several thousand years to perfect his lies. He knows what works on us. He tells us what we want to hear.
14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (Jas. 1.14-15).
He doesn’t usually say (at least not to believers), “Go get drunk and have a one-night stand.” He says, “It’s just a little fun with the girls.”
Or, “It’s OK if you live together. You’re going to get married anyway.”
About that guy who asked you out, “I know he’s not a believer, but he’ll change.” Instead, he changes you.
“This isn’t the first century. The rules in the Bible were written for a different time and culture.”
The Truth Is …
We need to know our enemy and not be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2.11).
The devil is subtle and patient. He waits for the right time, often, when we’re tired or discouraged. Tired of waiting on God. Depressed about the circumstances of our lives or just plain weary.
No Surprise to God
But none of what happened in the garden surprised God. Even as He pronounced the curse that would come as a result of their sin, He laid down the plan of redemption.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (3.15).
Satan would cause Jesus (and those who follow Him) to suffer, but Jesus will ultimately destroy him.
Crouching at the Door
Let’s look at one more verse.
Verse 4.7, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
Sin is still crouching at the door wanting to have mastery over us—even things that aren’t sinful in and of themselves can tempt us to get obsessed with them instead of being single minded and growing in the Lord. Paul said it this way:
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Cor. 6.12).
There are some things that are allowable, but not necessarily profitable, especially if we are at risk of being controlled by them?
When you think about your interests, that hot new movie, your favorite musician or TV show, or the latest book series … ask yourself “Did I spend an equal amount of time focused on God and ‘His story‘”? Do you spend as much time yearning to read God’s word as you did waiting for the newest book or movie? Are you compelled to get to know Him? Remember Psalm 1 in yesterday’s readings said we are to “delight ourselves in the law of the Lord.” and to meditate on it day and night.
Let’s make 2017 a year that we grow in our desire to know Him better.
Today’s Other Readings:
Thinking We’re Smarter than God
These verses picture the blindness of our sin nature and, through it all, God’s sovereign control.
Verse one, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?”
We have a habit of thinking we’re smarter than God. We make up our own rules and think we can decide what truth is. And all the while:
“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision” (v. 4).
Honor Your Father & Mother
“My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother; for they will be a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck.”
One of the Ten Commandments is “Honor your father and mother.” And Paul echoed that principle in Ephesians 6 when he said:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’”
If we love our children we must teach them to be obedient. Children who don’t learn to obey their parents cannot be truly blessed and may even shorten their own lives through their rebellion.
Just as with wives submission to husbands, the command does have limitations. Children are to obey their parents “in the Lord.” Children are not to obey if asked to sin. And once a child has become a self-supporting adult, he or she should continue to honor his or her parents, but is no longer bound to obey in a parental sense.
Fulfillment of Prophecy
We see at least four Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in this chapter:
Verse 6 – God had foretold of His Son’s birth in Bethlehem in Micah 5.2.
Verse 15 – Hosea 11.1 said He would be called out of Egypt.
Verses 16-18 – Jeremiah 31.15 prophesied the death of the Jewish infants.
Verses 22-23 – “He shall be called a Nazarene.” This probably meant he would be called “detestable” from Psalm 22:6-8 and Isaiah 49.7, 53.3.
Psalm 19 tells us that God’s Word is perfect and sure. That it is right, true and righteous and that by it “Your servant is warned, and in keeping [it] there is great reward.”
What is Satan tempting you to disbelieve about God? Is he tempting you to decide something sinful or unprofitable is OK? Has he tried to deceive you into believing He is withholding something good from you?
Ask God for His help to make wise choices, to believe God’s Word, and to trust in His sovereignty.
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“Bible in a Year” posts have been edited and updated from previous posts.