Our Danger in the First Temptation

When Adam and Eve fell in the garden, committing the first sin, they fell prey to a scheme of the devil. There are actually several things that occurred as that scheme unfolded. But one thing in particular stands out to me this day.

Genesis 3:1 – Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

God had placed Adam and Eve in a perfect home. God had provided for their needs and only given them one rule, one limitation. God had told them not to eat from one particular tree.

Of course, all of this is familiar, but do not give up on this thought yet. See what the devil did in his question. There is more going on here than we realize. Yes, the devil lied, and many have pointed that out. But have you also noticed that, in the question he asked, the devil was trying to get Eve to evaluate the character and actions of God?

Picture the thought process. The devil asks, “Did God really say… ?” in that question is more than a desire for content. The devil is trying to show God in a bad light. He is trying to make it look like God’s command about the tree is unkind, unloving, unrighteous. “Did he really command such a thing? How could he? Are you really going to let him do that?” And Eve answers fairly well. She is not willing to believe, at this point, that God has made a bad command.

But the problem is this: She did place herself in a position to say whether or not she felt God’s command was good or bad. The devil wanted to get the woman to put herself in a position to judge the goodness or badness of the commands of God. And while he did not trick her with his falsehood about the command, the devil got her used to thinking about whether or not she approved of the commands of God. Thus, when he came back by highlighting the fruit, the woman was in great danger.

Thus, the oldest trick in the devil’s book is the trick of convincing you or me that we have the knowledge, the wisdom, and the ability to measure the rightness or wrongness of the actions of God. The moment that we decide whether or not we approve of one decision of the Lord’s, even if we approve, we have attempted to usurp God’s position by making ourselves judges of the righteousness of God.

But remember, God is God and we are not. God is holy and we are not. God is all-knowing, and we are not. God is perfect in every way and we are not. God’s ways are as different from ours as the heavens are far from the earth. There is no comparison. We could never determine whether God should or should not have done something.

If you want to fight against the devil’s oldest ploy, you must surrender to the absolute supremacy and holiness of God. He is the Lord and his ways are perfect. When we do not understand him, we must take it as a given that he is good. God is not measured by a rule of good that is outside of him. Good is good

because it is what God does; but God will not and cannot be measured against some external standard.

So, the next time you feel like pondering whether or not you like the ways of God, be careful. Down that path lies danger. The devil used that as the first shot in his war against the Lord. Adam and Eve fell, and this was one of the nudges the devil gave them to help them crash. But true worship of the Lord, true following him, always includes our willing submission to the fact that the Lord is holy and his ways are perfect.

God’s Self-Description

Often when we think about God and his ways, we will attempt to reason out the actions and commands of God. We want to see why something is good or right. We can, if we are not careful, even begin to doubt that God is good when we cannot bring ourselves to understand him.

The problem that we have is one of presupposition. We begin our thought process about the Lord with the assumption that God can be measured by a standard of goodness. We assume that there is a concept of good that is outside of God, but that God, if he is to be good, will measure up to that external standard.

Let us remember how God describes himself.

Deuteronomy 32:3-4

3 For I will proclaim the name of the Lord;

ascribe greatness to our God!

4 “The Rock, his work is perfect,

for all his ways are justice.

A God of faithfulness and without iniquity,

just and upright is he.

What is God like according to his own self-description? See the words: perfect, just, faithful, upright, without iniquity. Boil that all down and mix it together. God is good. God is not good as compared to an external standard of good. God is the very definition of good. All his ways are right. All his ways are perfect. There is no hint of sin or wrongdoing in the Lord.

When we attempt to measure God by our understanding of God, consider what we bring to the table. We are finite in our understanding of good. We are finite in our understanding of the world. We are limited in our ability to see the big picture of what God is doing. We are sinful in our hearts, and thus our measure is itself corrupt

Imagine that you held in one hand a ruler, a perfect measure of 12 inches. In your other hand, you have a bit of Play-Doh. Imagine that you roll the Play-Doh into a line. The line is not really straight. The line is not even fixed, as it gets longer or shorter depending on how you bunch or squeeze it. Then imagine that you determine that your line of Play-Doh is the true measure of a foot and the ruler therefore must be wrong. If you could take that error in judgment and magnify it by infinity, you would have the depth of our failing when we attempt to measure God by our own corrupt standard.

The Lord is perfect. He is just and upright. He has no hint of sin in himself or his actions. And, remember, he is the Creator. He created all that is. He is the one who determines the measure of good. He is in himself the measure of good. So may we humbly submit ourselves to him and his ways, accepting his self-description as true and perfect as he is true and perfect.