2 Corinthians 11:14 KJV
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
The Christian life is one of warfare. There is the struggle with the flesh (Romans 7:14-25) and there are temptations that arise throughout life. Given the fact that Christians endure one temptation after another, and, given the fact that history is littered with people and denominations that have succumbed to the lies of Satan and have totally apostatized, one should try to understand Satan’s methodology of deception.
Probably the best place to examine Satan’s tactic and methodology of temptation is the temptation of Eve in Genesis 3:1-6: “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”?’ And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.”’ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”
As Christians there are two primary topics that we should consider in this portion of Scripture. First, there is Satan’s method of temptation. Second, there is Eve’s unbiblical response toward Satan’s attack.
In society there are (generally speaking) two types of criminals. The amateurish, haphazard, violent street thugs who are low on intelligence and preparation. The highly intelligent are polished, professional thieves and hit men. When one carefully examines Satan’s method of tempting Eve, one must place Satan in the latter category. Satan’s attack indicates careful planning, premeditation, intelligence and cunning. One can see this cunning not only in the arguments that Satan used but also in his careful use of the circumstances surrounding the temptation.
There are a number of circumstances involved in the temptation that indicate that Satan chose the most opportune time, place and person upon which to make his attack. First, note that Satan approached the woman—Eve—and not Adam. The apostle Peter says that the woman is the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:7). What exactly Peter means by the word weaker is not elaborated upon. It is obvious from other portions of Scripture that women are not inferior to men either morally or spiritually. That women are weaker than men physically is readily admitted by all except the most radical of feminists. It is indeed probable that Peter has more in mind than simply physical strength. In the post-fall world women are seen as more easily manipulated by emotional appeals. This fact has been successfully taken advantage of by politicians, advertisers, cults and womanizers. There is something intrinsic to the nature of women which makes them more approachable and unfortunately often more easily manipulated.
Take Notice, Satan did not approach Adam directly but used Eve as his tool to cause Adam , the covenant head, to fall. Satan wanted a role reversal in God’s ordained order of authority. Just take a look at our society today, the roles of men and women have completely transposed.
By approaching Eve and deceiving her he placed her in the role of leader, the decision maker, the head of the family. The goal (which was successful) was to make Adam the follower, the submitter. Who would Adam be more likely to follow: a serpent, or his beautiful wife whom he loved and adored? Thus, the Scripture says that “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). “He is everywhere represented as the deceiver, assuming false guises, and making false representations.” Satan tempted Christ directly in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke. 4:1-2) and failed. Satan then used a more subtle indirect approach when he tempted Christ through one of His closest friends, Peter (Matthew 1:22). Note, that in rebuking Peter, Jesus used the same words he used to rebuke Satan in the wilderness. “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Eve listened to the voice of the serpent instead of God; then Adam listened to the voice of his wife instead of God.
Christians must always be on their guard against temptations which come from loved ones, spouses, relatives, and close friends, for often these types of temptations are the stealthiest and hardest to resist. Poison is more readily accepted from the cup of a friend than an enemy. This truth is one reason why the Bible emphasizes that we are not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-18). History is full of examples of people who followed the unbiblical, ungodly advice of spouses, friends and family and thus came to judgment and ruin. Believers must submit every thought, suggestion and bit of advice to the authority of God’s word. Is it not better to reject the unbiblical advice of a friend or loved one than offend God?
Satan approached Eve when she was near the tree. Verse six says that Eve saw that the tree was good for food and pleasant to the eyes. Where Eve was standing she could see the fruit. Note, that Satan attacks when he can take full advantage of the lust of the eyes. Also, he attacks near the tree in order to cause her to eat of the fruit quickly once her mind is deceived. Satan acts as a slick door-to-door salesman. By making his case near the tree, Eve can move from evil thought to evil deed without having time to reconsider her decision. Satan does not want her to have time to change her mind or have second thoughts.
Christians should never place themselves in a situation in which they know that they will be tempted. A person who is a glutton should not go to a buffet for dinner. Likewise, a person who is tempted to get drunk should not stop at the bar after work to shoot a game of pool. Men who have a problem with lust should stay far away from porn sites. Paul says “Do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:27). How are Christians to avoid giving the devil an opportunity? Paul says, “Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Ephesians 4:26). Believers are to deal with anger immediately, on the very day it happens so that Satan cannot exploit the situation and tempt the Christian to sin. The devil uses anger (figuratively speaking) as a fulcrum to beatings, murder, war, adultery, gossip and all sorts of revenge.
Having noted that Satan’s plan of attack was premeditated and brilliantly executed, one must also consider the temptation itself. Satan’s goal was to draw Adam and Eve into sin in order to separate them and their posterity from God. Satan could not strike at God directly so he did what he considered to be the next best thing: he struck at man, God’s image and friend. Before the fall the whole human race had but one head (Adam) and at that Satan struck. Note, that Satan’s use of deception is progressive. He will move from indirect implication to a direct attack on God’s word, character and motive.
Satan’s great lie is that the opposite of God’s law is freedom; the opposite of obedience to God is blessing.
All of Satan’s argumentation leads straight to the bait: “the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil” (v. 5). Note once again Satan’s carefully designed argumentation. Note the brilliant progression of deception. First, Satan asks an outwardly friendly question to show his concern, to gain Eve’s trust all the while planting the seed of doubt in her heart. Second, Satan calls God a liar and then explicitly denies God’s judgment for disobedience. Third, Satan attacks God’s motive by implying that God is selfish and unconcerned for Eve’s welfare. Then, last of all Satan sets before Eve the bait, the price, and the reward.
Although Satan’s temptation of Eve was very cunning and deceptive he did not force Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Eve cooperated with the devil and allowed him to lead her into sin. All believers should carefully note and understand what Eve did that led her into transgression. There are a number of things that Eve did that all Christians should avoid.
1. Eve engaged herself in a dialogue with the enemy (Satan) on his terms. Satan directed the subject matter and controlled the direction of the conversation. Eve allowed herself to be taken into ungodly territory.
2. Eve set herself up as the ultimate authority in the interpretation of reality. She decided to examine what God had said and what Satan had said and then make a decision. Eve took God’s word and Satan’s word and placed them on the same level. She believed that she should be the ultimate authority and judge between them.
3. Eve coveted that which was unlawful. She lusted after the forbidden fruit. A great deal of sin begins with the lust of the eyes: adultery, fornication, theft, rape, kidnapping and so on.
4. Eve was guilty of sinful pride. Eve’s decision to determine for herself what was right and what was wrong was rooted in pride. It was the height of pride and arrogance to think that she—a finite creature—could be like the Almighty God. “Pride goes before the destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
5. Eve’s decision to forsake God’s word and do her own thing involved unbelief. Eve knew God’s word. She clearly had an understanding of God’s prohibition. Her problem was not a lack of understanding but a lack of trust. Eve did not believe God’s word. She did not have faith in God. If Eve had really believed God’s word, she would not have placed it on the same level as Satan’s word. She would not have subjected it to her autonomous reason. Eve would have obeyed it without question.
Satan’s careful planning and cunning deception coupled with Eve’s willingness to listen and then cooperate with this deception was a disaster for mankind, for: “Eve took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her and he ate” (Genesis 3:6). Satan did not take the fruit and put it in Eve’s mouth. He can tempt but he cannot force. Adam and Eve were totally responsible for their actions. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (James 1:14-15).
Remember the example of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ: “It is written!” “It is written!” “It is written!”
Scripture of the day: I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, LORD; teach me your decrees. ~ Pslam 119:11-12
Pastor Peter Okereke Jr.
The Living Word Ministries Inc.
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