What Was The Temptation in the Garden?
To Not Recognize Consequence of Sin? Or Simply Casting Doubt on God's Word?
I heard a sermon today that the serpent's temptation in the Garden was simply to doubt God's literal words in Genesis. But it was that and more - it was to doubt God's threat of death -- spiritual death -- for sin - the same twisting Satan does today through false apostles, false prophets, and false translations.
Here is the key passage:
1 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’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,knowing good and evil.” 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.7 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. (Genesis 3:1-7 NIV)
Actually, Eve substantially related correctly God's command. The only change is she added "you must not touch it...." Otherwise, it was 100% accurate. The Serpent did try to imply that God did not say the substance of what Eve then said God did indeed say.
Hence, so far Eve has not fallen for the Serpent's effort to make her wonder what God in fact said. She remembered it adequately, including the warning that "you will die" if you breach this command.
The Serpent, having failed to raise any successful doubt about the specific words used, next tried to make Eve believe the threat of the consequence of sin was not present: death.
The Serpent says if she disobeys "you will not certainly die." The Serpent then gives an explanation that God merely says this threat but does not mean this threat. God won't kill her, the Serpent says. Instead, God wants to prevent her from having her "eyes ... opened" and then "be like God, knowing good and evil."
The Serpent thus allowed Eve to keep God's literal words. However, the Serpent next suggested God's warning of consequences was not a true threat. The warning supposedly had a different purpose. God was not seriously ever going to cause Eve to suffer death, the Serpent told her. This is the lie of the Serpent.
Eve ate, and then God dealt out consequences.
1. The Serpent failed to cause Eve to doubt God's words were actually uttered.
2. The Serpent led Eve to believe the threat she recalled of death was not intended by God to be carried out. God's warnings of death were supposedly not serious.
When we compare this to the writings of Paul, we are told by Pauline apologists that Paul teaches the threats on Christians found in the Bible -- such as those Jesus makes repeatedly in all the Weeping and Gnashing parables -- are not serious threats. We are supposedly safe to disregard them. We are saved by faith alone, which salvation supposedly cannot be lost by the acts / conduct Jesus says will cause us to suffer weeeping and gnashing of our teeth in Gehenna.
Hence, the construction of Paul's words by his major apologists like Charles Stanley is identical to what the Serpent's successful deception was in the Garden. According to the major evangelists of today, the words of Jesus are accepted as valid for their time before the cross, but the threat is not real for the saved after the cross. Such threats, by one explanation or the other - usually from Paul's writings -- supposedly will never happen to us as long as we have faith -- a mental belief Christ died for our sins.
Thus, while it is true that the Serpent's initial aim was to cast doubt on God's word, it turned out that Eve substantially recalled the words of God properly. So when that attack on her memory failed, much like Paulinism cannot remove Jesus' words directly from Holy Scripture, the Serpent turned to Plan B.
What did succeed with Eve was the Serpent's second strategy. This was to cast doubt on the seriousness of the threat of punishment -- this day "you shall surely die" --- for violating God's command. Modern Pauline preaching fits precisely into the kind of temptation that took place in the Garden. Will you fall for it despite the clear example of Scripture of how wrong Eve was for being seduced to that belief, and then she led herself and her husband into spiritual-death by sin?