Most of us are at least somewhat familiar with the storyline of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God told Adam that he was free to eat from any tree in the garden. Every tree was an available option, except one – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eve had not yet been created when God gave Adam this clear and simple direction. But soon after Eve was formed, the enemy focused his deceptive efforts on her, and he did so in the slyest of ways. He asked a misleading question with the intent to sow a seed of doubt in her otherwise firmly planted understanding of truth.
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’?” (Genesis 3:1)
Did you notice how tricky his question was? He meant for it to trip her up by making only the slightest of changes to what God actually said. Undoubtedly, he hoped that slight change would bring just a glimmer of hesitancy. I can only imagine Eve wondering to herself, Wait. What exactly did I hear from Adam? Were those the right words?
Sensing that moment, the serpent went in for the kill, so to speak. Her hesitancy was just the tiny crack in the door he needed to come barreling through and stab her with the knife of mistrust. His misleading approach not only caused her to doubt what was said, but most notably (and to Satan’s delight), it made her question God’s perfect love and goodness. On her own, she had trusted that her Creator would only advise what was best for her and Adam. But once the slithery serpent suggested otherwise, tempting both pride and greed, Eve fell for his scheme…and all of mankind fell with her.
A similar pattern remains today with modern-day deceptions. In the form of “voices” that can be called by a variety of names, they typically fall on either side of the same coin. There are the voices that hold us back: our inner critic, self-doubt and fear. And there are the voices that push us: temptation, arrogance, entitlement and greed. Make no mistake, though, these voices all have one source and one mission: they all come from Satan, and they’re each meant to draw us away from God, His ways and purposes for our lives.
And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
…When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy… (John 10:10)
I can think of evidence in my own life when, just like Eve, I fell off course because I believed a lie. On the holding back part, it took a great deal of convincing for me to accept a role leading parents at my son’s boarding school. I believed I was unqualified, felt less than confident that I could add value and certainly didn’t think it was possible to make an impact from a distance. I first told them no, before I finally and timidly said yes. That was three years ago, and since then, it’s been my most favorite and unexpected ministry opportunity of my lifetime. It is a blessing to be able to shepherd and comfort other families from personal experience. God has used my strengths, grief, talents and optimism – all gifts He has provided, because He knew in advance to equip me for such a time as this.
With regard to Satan’s pushing, well, that’s a daily battle for us all – against our own pride and desires, as well as everything the world throws at us. It can be very challenging to remain counter-cultural in a social-media society, where the daily messaging assures you than you can HAVE it all, BE it all, and frankly, should WANT it all. Add to that the false claim that you can control the pathway to lead you to the aforementioned, and it can create battles in our own minds. But the battles are worth it! We must reject any idea that we can do anything better than God or apart from Him. Any of these momentary successes will prove to be short-lived by comparison to an eternal reward in Christ.
Friends, we must remember how Satan works. He is sly. He knows you can tell the difference between black and white, but those shades of gray? They’re a little trickier. There might not be a specific scripture that calls out that seemingly neutral tone. You might possibly think you can handle certain situations. And maybe you can…until you can’t. That’s the trap. The same one that caught Eve in a dialogue with a garden snake; one that didn’t seem venomous at first glance.
The key to our success lies with the answer to one question: where is your identity? With Christ, we have discernment, fulfillment and self-control. We can confidently step into our callings and take on the pressures of this world. Sure, we will make mistakes, but God will never leave us, nor hold it against us in retribution. With Christ, we have both power and grace. Oh, and let’s not forget, we have victory too. So, go ahead and reject Satan’s schemes right now. In the name of Jesus, we’re going to crush the head of that snake!
Lord, what an immeasurable blessing you offer us through faith in Christ – that we can be called Your children and that we can claim such a rich inheritance of victory. From the very first story of the Bible, all the way through to this very day, You have written us such a love story. Remind our hearts that everything else pales in comparison and inform our minds of Your truth that can counteract and conquer the enemy and every evil scheme. In Jesus’ name, Amen.