18 August 2009

Don't conform God's word

The third chapter of Genesis is a goldmine. We can learn a lot about ourselves, the nature of God, and the nature of Satan in those 24 verses. In the first five verses, we are introduced to the serpent (Satan) as a great deceiver.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 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.”

Satan begins, "did God actually say?" He calls into question the word of God. Eve rightly tells Satan what God said, but if you go back one chapter and look, God didn't tell them, He told Adam (Gen 2:16-17)--Eve wasn't even on the scene yet. In the interim, Adam must have shared with Eve God's admonition regarding the tree.

Nevertheless, she knows the rules. In fact, she relayed them clearly, yet Satan twists them. That is what Satan does, he makes sin look palatable and calls us to question God.

It is easy to look at Eve and think, "how could she have been duped? She knew God's word and yet she let herself be deceived." The reality is, though, Eve's experience represents our world. How often do we read of people saying things like "Jesus may have lived but he was never resurrected" or "a virgin birth was impossible." Perhaps more insidious are examples like, "the Bible never really says that people shouldn't have sex before they get married; plus their culture was different than it is now."

Satan loves it when we water down God's word. He loves it when church bodies make allowances for sin (e.g., recent ELCA decision). Offering an alternative interpretation is his forte. Nothing makes Satan happier than deceiving people and making them question God. The Bible describes 2 alternatives for how to respond to Satan when he twists God's words. Genesis 3 provides an example of when his deceit worked. If you want to see a right response, consider Jesus in Matthew 4 when Jesus was tempted.

Much like Eve, God's word has been indirectly revealed to us through the gospel writers, yet His word is true. Do not let Satan convince you to water down, reinterpret, or write off God's holy word, which is as relevant to us today as it was to Adam and Eve in the garden. Seek to conform to God's word, don't seek to make God's word conform to you.

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