In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had everything they needed or could possibly want. There was only one restriction given by God, and that’s exactly what the devil focused upon when he asked Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1). Eve answered, “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, or you will die’” (vv. 2-3). The devil wanted her to desire what she didn’t have.
Then Satan directly contradicted the Lord, saying, “You surely will not die!” (v. 4) and pointed out something else Eve lacked. “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” (v. 5). As she started considering the forbidden tree, Eve noticed it was “good for food” and “a delight to the eyes” and “desirable to make one wise” (v. 6).
Satan uses the same approach today trying to get us to focus on what we don’t have but would like to possess. He wants us to doubt what God has said in His Word and desire an experience that will stimulate and satisfy our senses. This is why some people pick and choose what they want to believe in the Bible. They want a loving God but not one who restricts them in any way or warns them about the consequences of disobedience.
Satan’s deception is progressive in nature.
Doubt. First of all, he led Eve to question God’s word.
Denial. Doubt leads to the denial of truth.
Deception. Once we deny the truth of God’s Word, we are headed for full blown deception regarding His nature and commands.
Disobedience. Next, we do what God has forbidden because we don’t believe Him.
Destruction. Finally, we suffer the destructive consequences of sin because of our disobedience.
Satan masks his deceptions in beautiful packaging that appeals to our natural senses and desires. He promises that there will be no repercussions for indulging in sinful practices that God clearly says will end in destruction. Before yielding to the devil’s temptations, we should always consider the consequences that will inevitably follow.
The last thing Satan wants us to think about is the devastating outcome of sin. That’s why he tempts us to minimize our sin by claiming that nobody’s perfect or that we just made a mistake. We’ve also fallen for his deception when we only focus on the goodness of God and not on His righteousness and holiness, which require that consequences follow sin.
When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He reminds us of the painful outcome of disobedience because He’s both the giver of truth and our protector. People who are living righteously and obediently before God can recognize sin and deception and know what is right and wrong.
Have there been consequences of sin in your life that can remind you of the danger of going down that path again? Remember to stand firm in Christ and refuse to head down that path. Instead, trust the Lord to make a way for you, even when there seems to be no way. He always comes through when we trust in Him.
This article was originally published on June 11, 2017, and is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “The Great Deception” which airs this weekend on TV.