Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.
This is the first mention of Satan in the Bible, and while he is not on every page, he has a leading role. He is called the Destroyer (Revelation 9:11), the enemy (Luke 10:19), the father of lies (John 8:44), a murderer (John 8:44), the evil one (Matthew 5:37) and many other things.
Satan is God’s enemy, but cannot attack God directly. Instead, he attacks those who are made in God’s image, and dearly loved by him. Satan knows his doom is sure, and wants to bring as many people down with him as he can.
Here the Bible says he is crafty. Other translations include sneaky, clever, cunning, subtle, intelligent and shrewd. Satan is a clever devil who is good at what he does. If you lived a thousand years, you could easily become an expert at something: music, math, logic, drama or any number of things. Satan has been around longer than that, and has refined his craft to an art form.
He is so skillful, in fact, that he leads the whole world astray (Revelation 12:9), wrote John. We know how to split the atom and fly to the moon. But after thousands of years there is still no consensus on who God is, what he requires, or if he even exists. Satan is an evil genius who leads the whole world astray.
Genesis 3:1b He said to the woman, Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden?
This is the first temptation of a human being, and it is brilliant. If Satan can make us doubt God’s word, he can make us doubt God’s love, and also his laws. That is why more books have been written against the Bible than any other book by far. The Bible is the most banned, burned and blasphemed book in the history of the world. Satan is serious about turning people away from God, and he starts by attacking God’s word.
Satan hates the Bible and wants us to doubt it, but Jesus loves the Bible and wants us to trust it. It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law (Luke 16:17), he said. By referring to the least stroke of a pen, Jesus showed that he believed the Bible right down to the spelling.
He also said your word is truth (John 17:17). He did not say your word is truthful, or your word contains truth, but your word is truth. In fact, All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), wrote Paul. It’s as though God himself breathed every single syllable into the Bible.
So when Jesus was tempted by the devil, he did not doubt the Bible—he quoted it. It is written . . . . It is also written . . . . it is written (Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 4:10), he said. The most trustworthy person in the world, believed the most trustworthy book in the world, and they bear witness to each other.
Our first parents were deceived by the devil because they doubted God’s word. Jesus triumphed over the devil because he trusted God’s word. Now the choice is ours: we can follow Jesus, or we can follow Satan.
Genesis 3:5 God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
Satan wanted Adam and Eve to doubt the goodness of God, so he focused on what God withheld. They were free to eat from every tree in the garden, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). But if God was holding something back, maybe he was not so good after all. First the devil tempted them to doubt God’s word, then he tempted them to doubt God’s goodness.
This is still effective whenever we don’t get something that we want (like someone to marry) or whenever we get something that we don’t want (like the death of a child). Whenever life disappoints us, we tend to question the goodness of God.
A missionary had served God for years when his son was attacked by a swarm of bees. The attack was so fierce that his son jumped off a cliff to his death. Wouldn’t a good God have kept that from happening? Adam and Eve were the first, but certainly not the last, to question the goodness of God.
Thankfully, God proved his goodness once and for all, through the death and resurrection of his Son. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was less clear what kind of God we were dealing with. But when God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (John 3:16), his goodness was clearly displayed for all to see. Only a perfectly good God would give his Son to die for a world that hated him.
As soon as we believe that Jesus died for our sins, we give up the right to question the goodness of God ever again. If the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ does not convince us that God is good, nothing ever will. Every believer must settle this matter once and for all: God is good all the time. The devil hates this fact and wants us to doubt it, but Jesus proved this fact and wants us to trust it.
Genesis 3:6 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.
The first duty of a Christian husband is to protect his family from the devil, but Adam chose to use his wife as a guinea pig instead. If she fell over dead, he would not have eaten the fruit. But since she survived, he thought it might be safe. Turning away from God can make us so selfish that we will hurt those we love in order to please ourselves.
Genesis 3:7 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.
This is how shame entered the world. Adam and Eve had nothing to hide before they sinned, but afterward they wanted to cover themselves. So they gathered fig leaves and stitched them together in a desperate attempt to cover their shame. If you have ever dreamed of being naked in public, you know how they felt.
But even if we have no physical shame, everyone carries moral shame. If everything we ever did became public information, we could never leave the house. One survey showed that fifty percent of adult males carry a secret so dark, that if it were exposed, it would destroy them.
Shame is a negative emotion, but it has a positive side. It means that we are not as bad as we could be. As long as we have a sense of shame, we also have a conscience. The work of the Holy Spirit is to convince us of our sins (John 16:8), so that we can repent, and be restored to God.
Reflection and Review
What did Satan want Adam and Eve to think about God?
How does Jesus prove that God is good?
What is the best remedy for shame?