04“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.
05“For God knows that the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 03:04-05 (N.I.V.)
All one needs to know about the human dilemma is found in these two verses. Often the focus is placed on the sin and the ensuing fall. Satan tells the truth and in so doing, is able to deceive Eve.
Adam and Eve have much to learn at this time in a similar way an infant lacks cognizance. As a mother prepares everything for her baby, God created a pristine environment for the first man and woman to exist with a healthy life. The sole secret to their survival was living in relationship with God – nothing more and nothing less.
Satan came with strong evidence that God’s warning lacked complete accuracy. He simply told Eve, “Look at me, I rebelled against God and do I look dead to you. Does something dead talk and move about?” This would be a convincing argument to persuade someone against what God had told them.
The first issue is that Adam and Eve had no perspective about life and death. Until Eve is confronted, “death” was simply an abstract warning, they would have been unsure as to its implications. Satan, who had worked in God’s sphere, did know the difference and used their ignorance against them.
Verse five is the curse that afflicts human beings to this day. Satan subtlety changes intimacy with God from relationship to religion. Christianity emphasizes living in relationship with God through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Religion emphasizes human beings attempting to discern between what is right and what is wrong. To correct the broken relationship, Satan offers broken humanity the idea that with their effort they can correct the severed position that they had enjoyed.
Indeed human beings eyes were opened and Satan spoke the truth, they now knew good and evil, right and wrong. The undiscovered aspect that confuses human beings is that Satan states that people will know both good and evil. He does not promise us that we will be able to discern between the two.
The brilliance of God is this; God gives the Hebrew people a religion. Christians miss the nuance of this. The truth of the matter is that Christians strive to abide by some aspect of the Law rather than living in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ.
Satan is the one who wants people to live by religion, as human discernment of right and wrong becomes the determining factor in how one chooses to live. God gives the Hebrew people a religion to show them that they are unable to live to God’s standard. The Hebrew Religion is not given to save people but to show them the fallacy of human attempts at living to please God (see Paul’s discussion in Romans 07:04-13).
Through the law we see the human inability to live, as we should before a Holy God. God expresses to a broken and fallen humanity that there is need of a saving force to reestablish the relationship that was broken in Adam and Eve’s action.