Saturday, January 22, 2022

You Sly Devil


“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 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 die”…Now the serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?"

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1(RSV)

Subtle, crafty, cunning, clever-all variously used to describe “that ancient serpent”, the tempter of Eve. He knew right where to aim-“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5; ESV; italics mine). Careful readers will note the irony here-Adam and Eve already were like God, having been created in God’s image and likeness. 

Of course, the serpent does not mention that. He isn’t interested in God or God’s image and likeness. The serpent is only interested in remaking humanity into his image and likeness. He accomplishes this by 1. Sowing seeds of doubt as to God’s (honorable) intent, which 2. Serves to convince Eve she does not need God telling her what to do (another, perhaps more theological, way to put it is Eve is free to choose a self-centered life as opposed to a God-centered life). 

Pay careful attention to Eve’s thought process here-“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise…” 

(Genesis 3:6; RSV). Do you see? I like the way this looks. I think this will taste great. This will make me really smart. In other words, it’s all about me. John, looking back on the garden event, puts it this way: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16; RSV). Friends, this is where it all began. Whenever you hear the words “I have the right to…” you are hearing the echoes of Eve’s response to the ancient accusation-“did God really say….”.

So here we have it. Short and sweet. ‘I say vs. God said’. In yet another irony, the first couple, already made in the image and likeness of God, in their effort to be like God exchange God’s image and likeness for the serpent’s image and likeness. The serpent who, true to his name (Satan, the accuser) accuses God of the very activity in which he (the Satan) himself is engaged. But we need a God. Paul, looking around at the present state of affairs in the first century Roman Empire, correctly diagnosed that society (and ours) and in so doing lays it at the feet of our garden couple: 


“ who by their wickedness suppress the truth…for although they knew God they did not honor him as God…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25; RSV).

Please carefully think this through because it is going on all around us; we are all guilty to some extent or other. The solution (there is only one) lies in Paul’s analysis: Acknowledge the truth. Honor God. Give thanks to God. Glorify God in our bodies, here and now. Demonstrate God’s image and likeness.

O come, let us worship and bow down,

let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would hearken to his voice!”

(Psalms 95:6-7;RSV)

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands!

Serve the LORD with gladness!

Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the LORD is God!

It is he that made us, and we are his;

we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,

and his courts with praise!

Give thanks to him, bless his name!

For the LORD is good;

his steadfast love endures for ever,

and his faithfulness to all generations.

(Psalm 100; RSV).

None of us can influence everyone. All of us can influence someone. 

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