The Fall of Man: Satan’s Tactics

The fall of man obviously isn’t good news for humanity.  Man was given a perfect world to live in and we royally messed it up.  Perfection was destroyed and the result was the world that we see now.  Ever since the fall of man, God has been working to restore the perfection that was present in the Garden of Eden.

Even though the outcome was anything but good, there is a lot that we can learn from the story of the fall of man.  Satan’s tactics haven’t changed any since the serpent tempted Eve so if we learn from this story we learn what to expect virtually any time that we are tempted.

Genesis 3:1 begins “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’?””

There is debate whether the serpent is actually Satan, if it is controlled by Satan, whether it is a metaphor for Satan, etc.  I’m not really concerned about that debate right now.  Regardless whether this is actually Satan or a devil like creature, it uses the same tactics as Satan.  And I will interchangeably refer to the serpent as the devil just to clear up any confusion.

The serpent starts by questioning God.  This is a very indirect approach here.  And that is the power of the attack.  Satan doesn’t come out and declare that God’s rules are stupid.  But what he does is get Eve to start wondering about the rules that God has given.  Why is this one tree forbidden?  What is so special about one particular tree?  What is she potentially missing out on?  Why would God place something in the garden that was forbidden?

Eve tells the serpent that they are forbidden to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden and that they will die if they do.  The serpent’s response is another classic tactic of Satan.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Satan constantly twists God’s words.  He tells half truths.  In short, he deceives.  Jesus called Satan the Father of Lies so this tactic shouldn’t be at all surprising to us.  Eating from the tree would bring about spiritual death and it would bring about spiritual death.  What the serpent declares is that eating the fruit would not bring about immediate death which was true.  The death it did bring was far worse than immediate death but of course he’s not going to reveal that.

Satan loves to twist God’s words and confuse us with double talk and nonsense.  Is it any wonder how Christians could all have the same Bible but have so many different interpretations of God’s teachings?  There is only one right interpretation of what the Bible says but there are many different views on everything from birth control to homosexuality.  Satan twists and confuses the issue and he does so from the beginning with Eve.

The second part of what the serpent tells Eve is completely true but still told with the intent to deceive.  In church we constantly teach that we are striving to be like Jesus, to be holy like God.  But while Adam and Eve still had their innocence, they did not want to be like God.  To have the knowledge of good and evil was a curse, not a blessing.  But of course it is sold as a blessing that God has been withholding from Eve.

The fall of man is recorded quite simply but there’s a lot that happens in Genesis 3:6.  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.

Eve saw that the fruit was good for food.  I can’t be certain of it, but I assume that Eve looked at the fruit and compared it to the other fruit that she had eaten.  It looked like other fruit that she had eaten and had no consequences from eating.  It’s not like this fruit was covered in spikes or had anything to indicate that this was bad aside from the fact that she had been told to avoid it.  Sin often looks the same as non-sinful things.  Or in other words, it seems like a perfectly good idea beforehand.  Only after the fact does sin seem like a bad idea.

We also see that the fruit was pleasing to the eye.  Satan sells us a lot of things because they are pleasing to the eye.  Not only does sin not appear to be harmful, it looks good.  There is something that is enticing about sin because we’re convinced that not only will it not be bad for us but that it is something that we should want for our lives.

So we have that the sin is not bad, but also pleasing.  And finally it is sold as beneficial.  There is something to be gained that isn’t just a self satisfying fulfillment of some desire but there is a tangible benefit.  One can imagine Eve’s thought process as she fell for this deception.

The fruit is commonly pictured as an apple.  We have no indication what it actually was but let’s just use an apple as our image.  Eve sees the apple hanging on the tree.  She realizes that this fruit looks similar to the other fruits that she’s eaten before and had no ill effects, so there’s a good chance that it’s not poisonous like she had been led to believe.  And the apple looks good.  It’s shiny.  It looks like it is crispy but juicy when you bite into it.  It looks like something that she’d enjoy eating.  And then finally there’s the fact that this fruit will make her wiser.  How can you pass up an unharmful, delicious looking fruit that will make you wiser?

And after Eve ate some, she gave Adam some to eat as well.  I won’t go into it in any depth, but we always speak of Adam as being the source of sin and not Eve.  The short answer is that Eve was deceived when she sinned while Adam should have known full well that what he was doing was wrong.  This doesn’t mean that we are off the hook if we sinned and didn’t know better or were deceived into doing so.  Eve is still punished for her sin.  Adam takes the full blame here because his was a willful sin without deception or coercion of any kind.  With Adam’s sin there is also a matter of seminal headship and federal headship which I won’t really get into.  That’s a different theological discussion.

Eve got exactly what she wanted and what the serpent told her would happen.  Her eyes were opened in verse 7 but the result was not what she wanted.

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.

Adam and Eve’s new found knowledge tells them that they are naked.  They are physically naked so they sew fig leaves together.  But those fig leaves can’t cover up their spiritual nakedness so they attempt to hide from God in the garden.  Of course they are not hidden from God and He knows of their sin.  Judgment will come upon Adam, Eve, and the serpent.  But rather than end on a negative note, I’ll close with a positive note.  Despite all of the ugliness that occurs with the first sin, there is still some good news.

Genesis 3:15 is what is known as the protoevangelium, or first gospel.  Adam and Eve need some good news now that they have sinned.

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.

This is the announcement that Jesus, the offspring of the woman, was going to come and crush the head of the serpent.  Fig leaves couldn’t do anything to deal with the spiritual nakedness that Adam and Eve had so God gave them the permanent solution in Jesus.

Looking at a literal six day creation

There is an obvious debate over whether the biblical account of creation is true or not.  I think that part of this debate is blown out of proportion while another part is perhaps oversimplified.  In short, if you don’t believe the Bible, you really have no reason to believe in creation.  People who don’t must come up with some theory on our origin and evolution is the most popular theory to explain our existence.

That’s the part that I believe is overblown.  Why should I expect non-religious people to hold to an obviously religious theory of our origin?  I’m using the word religious here because Christians and Jews both follow the Old Testament and have the same creation story as a part of our heritage.  However there are many religions that have some kind of creation story as well.  I, as a Christian, hold to a Christian interpretation of the creation story.  My point is, why would someone who holds no value for a creation story choose to believe it over supposedly scientific theories?  We shouldn’t be surprised that non-religious people don’t want to be taught a religious theory of our origin any more than religious people don’t want theories taught that appear to contradict their religious beliefs.

So, with that in mind, I’m not trying to debate or convince a non-religious person that the biblical story of creation is the correct one.  My goal today is to discuss what the Bible says about the story of creation and how Christians should go about interpreting it.  This is where I think things have been oversimplified and perhaps we’ve failed in our teaching as a church.

The assumption is that Christians believe in creation and non-Christians believe in evolution.  But there are a number of people who consider themselves Christians who also believe in some form of evolution.  The question is, does the Bible support that.  For starters, there are some people who call themselves Christians who pretty much say, the scientific evidence is overwhelming, the Bible can’t be trusted as far as science is concerned.  This really isn’t a debate for these Christians either.

At the heart of Christianity is the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Science says that people don’t rise from the dead.  Science says that miracles don’t exist.  I am not saying that you ignore everything science says just because you believe the Bible teaches differently.  What I am saying however is that there are obvious contradictions between what the Bible says occurred at times and what science says is possible.  All religions require some amount of faith.  And for that matter, so does science.  We weren’t there to witness creation so we have to believe that it happened as it was recorded.  In the same vein, scientists have not been watching evolution for millions of years.  They deduce their own conclusions based upon only what they can observe in the here and now and hypothesize what it took to bring about what they now see.

So, let’s go back to the Bible.  I won’t read the creation story because it is quite a familiar story to most people but if you haven’t read it in a while, it’s in Genesis 1-2.  One of the things that we are told, and this is probably the most important detail for our debate, is that all of creation was made in six days and that God rested on the seventh day.

Now some people will say, it’s there in black and white, God created in six days.  If you believe the Bible is true, you have to believe in a literal six day creation.  This is obviously the most literal way of interpreting the story.  I will say that I believe in interpreting the Bible as literally as possible except where it is obvious that something is not meant to be literal.

What do I mean by this?  The short explanation would be a case where in the Psalms it may say something like “God will shelter you under His wings.”  This probably should not be interpreted to mean that God literally has wings.  It should be understood as a metaphor for God’s protection.

The creation story, however, is one that can be taken literally without any stretch of the imagination.  But let’s look at a few other possibilities for the sake of argument.  The most popular belief other than a literal six day creation is what is known as theistic evolution.  This is not to be confused with atheistic evolution which denies the existence of God.  Theistic evolution is an attempt to combine what science is telling us and what the Bible says.  Ordinarily I believe that this is an admirable goal because God is the creator of all the science around us.  The things that we can’t explain around us are not unexplainable; we just haven’t explained them yet.

Theistic evolution says that God created us as the Bible says but He used the process of evolution and millions of years to do it.  In theistic evolution, God is still involved in the creation process as He guides our evolution to make us into what we are today.

There is another similar theory to theistic evolution.  It is called the day-age theory.  The day age theory contends that the days of the creation story should not be considered literal days but rather ages.  Each day or rather age is a description of our stage of evolution.

These theories sound good on the surface but you also have to discount certain details of the creation story to fit them in.  On the third day we have the creation of plants and trees.  It is not until the fifth day that we have the creation of animals in the sea and air and finally on the sixth day that we have animals on the land.  At first glance the evolutionist may say that this is in line with what they believe as things become more complex and we even see creatures come up from the water and onto the land.

But here’s the problem with the order of creation and the idea that each day is an age representing millions of years in the evolutionary process.  In short, plants can’t survive without animals.  We know that plants are essential for our survival as they convert carbon dioxide into oxygen so that we can breathe.  But the opposite is also true.  Plants need animals to produce carbon dioxide so that they can breathe.

Furthermore, plants need animals to reproduce.  A few years ago there was some concern because of a big drop in the bee population.  This meant more than just a lack of honey.  Bees are particularly important for pollinating plants so that they can reproduce.  Other insects do this as well, but the point is that plants wouldn’t survive millions of years without pollination.  And of course there are plenty of other benefits that animals provide for plants.

So if you want to believe in creation by evolution you don’t take the creation story literally but you must also discount the order of creation as it is described .  That’s a problem in my book but still others will contend that the story was not meant to be taken literally.

One final theory that I’ll briefly touch upon is the Gap Theory.  This theory contends that there is a large gap in time between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.

1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

This theory contends that God created everything good in verse 1.  But formless and empty with darkness in verse 2 is an indication that something went wrong.  There’s different interpretations as to what may have happened here.  Some believe that the fall of Satan occurred during this time and that is what had corrupted the world.  Others say that this is when dinosaurs were in the world and that what takes place in the rest of the creation story is actually a “recreation.”

The problem with the gap theory and all of the many permutations it takes is that there’s no reason to conclude any sort of gap between 1:1 and 1:2.  It is purely speculative.  Sure, science says that dinosaurs existed long before man ever did but that can’t be true if creation is a literal six days, but why jump to the conclusion that God then recreated the earth after the dinosaurs?  The Gap Theory takes a whole lot for granted and makes far too many assumptions for me to feel the slightest bit comfortable with the idea.

Obviously I didn’t address all of the theories surrounding the creation story.  I didn’t provide the counter arguments for some theories about theistic evolution.  There’s plenty of science around creation that I didn’t address.  This is simply meant as a brief overview of the topic of creation and what Christians believe about it.  I recommend further investigation on the topic before forming an opinion on the issue.