It’s always been interesting to me that the serpent mentioned in Genesis 3 could talk. Now, I know we typically put the Devil in the role of the serpent here. And, I don’t have a problem with that, there are New Testament passages that support that idea. I’ve taught this passage that way many times. But today, I want to look at it from a slightly different angle. Let’s take the Devil out of the story. Technically, the story doesn’t include the Devil or Satan, so as a thought experiment let’s read it without adding that dimension into it and see what happens. 

Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

Gen 3:1-7 NIV

The serpent was more crafty which means subtle and shrewd. If you can, take all the baggage off the serpent and just look at the serpent as a curious character. What if the serpent wasn’t trying to entice Eve to eat the fruit? What if the serpent was merely questioning what Eve believed about what she had been told? 

Look at the first question: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” Maybe the serpent didn’t know the rules God had made and was just asking for clarification. 

Before you start yelling at me through your listening device, let’s keep going. 

The serpent’s response to Eve, “You will not certainly die, For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So, it would appear that the serpent knows something. He certainly wasn’t just asking for clarification. But, neither did the serpent come out and say that Eve should eat the fruit. 

So what did the serpent do? Remember the serpent is crafty, subtle, shrewd. The serpent merely got Eve to question God. First he started with “Did God really say?” and then moved on to a more explicit truth claim about God “God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 

Question: How does the serpent know what God knows? Answer: He doesn’t. He assumes or infers information that He doesn’t have.
Now, what’s with all this focus on the serpent and trying not to think of the serpent as Satan? Again, be sure to hear that I’m not saying the serpent doesn’t represent Satan. But, there is a point. 

The problem of Adam and Eve wasn’t the serpent. The problem of Adam and Eve wasn’t even choice. The problem of Adam and Eve is twofold: 1.) The desire to be God. 2.) Believing non-credible sources. 

The reason Eve ate the fruit was both because she believed the non-credible idea of the serpent and because after hearing that idea she wanted the ability to make her own rules. The one rule God gave them was not to eat the fruit of this tree, but the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and desirable for gaining wisdom. Whatever role the serpent played in her decision, Eve wanted the fruit. 

Unfortunately, Eve looked past what she already knew and desired to have more. Like we said yesterday, Adam and Eve were made in God’s image. In all of creation there is nothing like God as much as people are. They already were like God. But that wasn’t enough. They wanted to be God. They wanted to make their own rules and be able to decide for themselves which tree they can and can’t eat from. 

Again, what’s with all the serpent stuff? Well, It’s easy for us to look at this at Satan causing Eve to stumble and blame the whole thing on him. Granted,  he is a loser and deserves as much blame as we can give him. But the reality of the story is that Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. That’s called rebellion. And as much as rebellion is celebrated in our society today, rebellion is the problem of humanity. 

Without even realizing it, so many today, even many Christians have fallen prey to the same problem of Adam and Eve. We don’t want anyone telling us how to live our lives. (In other words we want to be our own god.) And, we allow non-credible sources to influence us in that direction. 

There is an abundance of content at our fingertips telling us how we can be the master of our own universe in one way or another. So much of the self-help world we live in is geared around that idea. And many of us consume this content in massive quantities without giving any consideration to the source. We are just as at risk today, if not more so, of making the same choice Eve made in the garden. In fact, we do it all the time. 

We are posed with the same “Did God really say?” question on a regular basis. And in response to that question we rarely go to the right source to find the answer. Instead of going to God’s word, our pastor or some other Spiritually wise person we know who has lived a life of following God where do we go? Google. 

This may surprise you, but Google is not God. Google is not a Christian organization built on God’s word and Christ-like morals. It is a secular company who actually opposes much of what Christianity stands for. And yes their algorithms are biased. That’s no secret. Even if they were trying to be unbiased, it’s simply not possible. We all give preference to our way of thinking. Google is no different. Neither is CNN or Fox News, neither is Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They all have a bias, none of them are Christian organizations. 

The sad truth is, too many of us are still the prey of the same problem of Eve. When we get the question “Did God really say?” we go to the wrong source for the answer. You see, if she wanted to, Eve could have gone to God himself to get answers to the questions the serpent was asking. “Hey God, the serpent was talking to me and asked if you really said that we can’t eat fruit from any tree in the garden. Did you really say that?” How different would things have been if she had gone to the source. 

The same is true for us. How different would our lives be if, when we someone or something raises a question we went right to the source? Did you know that you can do that? The question is why don’t we do that? To be honest, it’s probably because we won’t like the answer. So instead of going to the source that will give us the truth we need to hear, we go to other sources that will give us the truth we want to hear without even realizing there is no truth in them at all. 

That’s why I don’t think it much matters whether the serpent is the Devil or not. The point is we chose to go our own way and rebel against God, not who we can blame for making such a bad decision. We have to own up to our rebellion and submit to God. 

Are you still falling for the same old trap?

David Lindner, The Jesus Habit.

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