Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
“Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1b)
God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them. In the sky, God created the sun and the moon and the stars for the day and night. He also created all living creatures on the ground, in the air, and under the sea so that His creation be filled with all kinds of trees, plants, animals, birds and fish. All were created in the first five days, and on the sixth day, God created human beings in His own image. God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person. Are there any other creatures that God gave His own breath of life? None expect human beings. Human beings were so special to God, and God loved human beings most among all of His creations including the powerful sun, the clear moon, the beautiful stars, the earth filled with all living creatures. Out of His love, He gave everything, and asked to govern and rule over the rest of His creations.
Then God blessed them [human beings] and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” (Genesis 1:28)
God was extremely pleased with His creation, not because of the magnitude of the His creation of the stars, the moon, the sun, the earth, the heavens, and all of the living creatures, but because of the human beings specially created in His own image.
Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was very good! (Genesis 1:31a)
On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.
God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. There was no pain, no sorrow and no agony, but God was with them in paradise. Adam and Eve’s daily life was truly blessed, which was like living in Heaven.
There were many kinds of trees in the garden, and In the middle of the garden there were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil also. God warned Adam,
“You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16b-17)
Thus, Adam and Eve enjoyed all of God’s creation in the garden, and they kept what they were told by God like good children who keep what is told by their parents, and respect and obey their parents.
However, this precious, beautiful and blessed relationship with God did not last forever. One day, the serpent came to Eve. The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals God had made. The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1b)
The serpent’s question looked ridiculous or even stupid. It was obvious that Eve ate fruits and products from the trees in the garden everyday. If not, how could Eve survive? In fact, the question was fully loaded with the serpent’s vicious intent to trick Eve. It was the first step to deceive Eve, and eventually destroy both Eve and Adam. Eve did not know the true intent of the malicious serpent. Eve should have asked to herself why the smart serpent made the stupid question. This gives us a lesson. If someone known to be a smart person comes and asks a stupid and absurd question, then we’d better ask to ourselves the motive of the person. It could be a trap.
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3)
Eve, without knowing the true intent of the serpent, answered. She started with “of course” in order to make a point that the serpent’s question was really dumb. Of course, all living animals in the garden ate from the trees without exception. In fact, Eve had never heard such a dumb question before. But it was the serpent’s loaded question that tried to trick Eve. Eve did not notice this at all.
After naively answering the question by “Of course, we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden.” Then Eve should have had stopped at this point because she fully answered the specific question asked by the serpent. But she did not, and she continued, “It’s only the fruit from the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
Unfortunately, her answer started deviating from what was really told by God. She started adding her own words. Specifically,
1. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat.”
This is a partially truthful statement. In fact, in the middle of the garden God placed two trees: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Eve told as if there were only one tree. Why? In her heart, only one tree was visible because she liked one tree over the other. Remember that the serpent had never pointed one particular tree in the middle of the garden, but Eve only talked about one particular tree that was in her mind. In fact, her heart had been craving for the fruit of the particular tree, not that of the other tree. She was tempted, and gave in. Her answer indirectly expressed her desire.
2. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
God had never told not to touch, but Eve added this in her answer to the serpent. Indeed, God only forbid eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but she exaggerated. Why? Again, this reflects her strong desire to eat the forbidden fruit. She knew she should not eat it. In her mind, she said “if I cannot eat it, then I want to just touch it, which will quench my thirst for the fruit that I cannot eat.”
All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. (Matthew 5:37)
Saying anything beyond “yes” and “no” reflects our hidden agenda of our desire to express our own intention rather than just stating a fact. All our hidden agenda are not equally bad. But in many cases, we added more words for our own gain by manipulating the minds of others who are hearing us. Thus, Jesus said simply say “yes” or “no” without going beyond, which can easily lead us to sin.
After hearing the Eve’s answer, the serpent realized that the serpent’s plan worked well. The serpent heard her strong desire through her answer exaggerating and slightly distorting the fact. Yes, Eve really wanted to eat the fruit of the tree of wisdom. Her heart was craving for the fruit despite of God’s command – not to eat. What a wonderful opportunity presented to the serpent!
When a temptation comes into our heart by allowing it entering into, it makes our spiritual eyes blind and our eyes of desire focus on the sin object of the temptation. Then the strong desire of sinning quickly spreads out to the entirety of our heart like a yeast in a warm flour dough. Therefore, if we let a temptation come into our heart, it will quickly grow and spread out till completely corrupting us. As a result, we become craving for the sin object of the temptation more and more till completely destroying us. This is the power of a temptation and the sin following the temptation.
Jesus warned them, “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod.” (Mark 8:15b)
The serpent could not pass on this excellent opportunity. Now for the serpent, there is only one thing left to conquer Eve – just providing what Eve was carving for. Eve was already sold to the temptation. Just a small nudge was enough to trigger her to actually sin.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
Finally, the serpent directly opposed the God’s command. The serpent openly told to Eve “You won’t die.” The serpent’s statement was an absolute lie. “You will die” and “you won’t die” are not same, but completely opposite. There is absolutely no compromise in between the two. The serpent boldly stated this absolute lie that directly contradicted to what God told. However, Eve was already completely sold to her own desire. She had already knelt down before her desire of eating the fruit. Even in her heart, she actually wanted to hear what she wanted to hear rather than what God told, which truly bothered her. When she heard the serpent’s lie, it tasted so delicious like honey.
Now, she was at the fork to take one of two choices – keeping the God’s command while fighting against her temptation or following her desire while ignoring the God’s command. But she could not quickly make an action while hesitating. Then the serpent put the final nail in the coffin. The serpent injected a doubt in her heart about God and His character. In other words, God was not whom you thought. God hid something hiding from you. Why did God hide something as important as the fact that the fruit would not kill Eve, but make Eve like God? In fact, God misled Eve in order to prevent Eve from being equal to God. All human beings including Eve are created in the image of God. Thus, we all have a trait of desire of being like God. Thus, when we hear we would be like God, we are easily tempted. The temptation is also very hard to resist.
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. (Genesis 3:6a)
Eve was easily convinced. Indeed, she was waiting for an opportunity to be convinced. Then Eve directly looked at the tree and the fruit that she had been craving for. On that that day,
1. The tree was so beautiful to her eyes, although it was an ugly trap.
2. Its fruit looked really delicious. In fact, it was a poison.
3. She wanted the wisdom it would give her. She was fully convinced by the serpent.
Eve was like an ox going to the slaughter. She was seduced by the serpent, and walked into the trap to sin.
So she seduced him with her pretty speech
and enticed him with her flattery.
He followed her at once,
like an ox going to the slaughter.
He was like a stag caught in a trap, (Proverbs 7:21-22)
It was the serpent’s victory. Eve actually sinned by eating the fruit. Then, she did not stop. She gave some to Adam, her husband, who was with Eve. Adam, who loved Eve more than anything else, ate without asking even a single question. Bible does not precisely tell whether Adam was with Eve when Eve was seduced and sinned or not, but it is clear that Adam did not question about Eve’s suggestion to break the God’s law by eating the forbidden fruit. Based on what Adam did, in Adam’s heart, which is bigger, Eve or God? Yes, it was Eve, not God. Here is an important lesson from what Adam did – one cannot serve equally two maters. One is always greater than the other.
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. (Matthew 6:24)
We are bombarded by temptations everyday and everywhere. It is a fact of life. Unless we in Heaven, we cannot be completely free from such temptations. Then what can we do?
Eve failed because Eve let her temptation get into her heart and grow in her heart, which quickly occupied all of her heart. Adam did not resist to Eve’s temptation of breaking the God’s law. Why? In his heart, the real mater was Eve, not God. As a result, both Eve and Adam became powerless, and failed completely before God. Then how to fight back to temptations, which are so powerful?
When he arrived at the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” (Luke 22:40)
This is what Jesus told to His disciples. Jesus prayed to God before taking up the cross, which was the most difficult one throughout His entire ministry on earth. Jesus was in agony. Therefore, Jesus put all thing to God as His prayer before taking up the cross and dying on it for all our sins. It was also the moment of the greatest temptation for all His disciples. The disciples did not pray except sleeping although Jesus was praying with a small distance from them. Finally, the soldiers came and arrested Jesus to crucify Him. Then all of His disciples fled. At the moment, the disciples were not spiritually ready to fight against the temptation of saving their lives. They ran and saved their own lives although all of them said they would die with Jesus before. Without prayers, all failed. Then how to win over temptations coming at us from all directions without ceasing? The answer is simple — we have to pray as Jesus told to His disciples.
Later the disciples realized their sins. Peter, one of the disciples bitterly wept. However, Jesus, after His resurrection, lovingly came to the disciples who betrayed Him. Rather than point out the failure of His disciples, Jesus comforted them with His unfathomable love. Then Jesus asked them to stay in Jerusalem while waiting for the Holy Spirit. After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples stayed in Jerusalem and together prayed. As promised, they received power as the Holy Spirit comes upon them. The coward disciples completely transformed by the Holy Spirit. They no longer had to hide themselves in fear. Instead, they went out and boldly witness the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yes, they were strong in the power of the Holy Spirit. The act of the Holy Spirit was not for the disciples, but the power of the Holy Spirit equally acts on us. Like the disciples, in the Holy Spirit, we are strong, and by Him, we will be His true witness, and for Him, we will overcome all temptations coming at us and be truly victorious. This is our hope and faith. Praise Him, who is always faithful and infinitely good to us! We are His beloved children who win over all sins by the power of the Holy Spirit. Praise Our Father, Son and The Holy Spirit!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)