Genesis 3:15 — “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” [ESV]
“You Will Not Surely Die”
The first thing he does is to persuade her, if possible to entertain hard thoughts of God; this is his general way of dealing with God’s children: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’? What! Has God planted a garden, and placed you in the midst of it, only to tease and perplex you? Has he planted a garden, and yet forbid you making use of any of the fruits of it at all?” It was impossible for him to ask a more ensnaring question, in order to gain his end: For Eve was here seemingly obliged to answer, and vindicate God’s goodness. And therefore, —
Verses 2 & 3: And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Sin Begins to Conceive
The former part of the answer was good, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, God has not forbid us eating of every tree of the garden. No; we may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden (and, it should seem, even of the tree of life, which was as a sacrament to man in the state of innocence) there is only one tree in the midst of the garden, of which God has said, you shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”
Here she begins to warp, and sin begins to conceive in her heart. Already she has contracted some of the serpent’s poison, by talking with him, which she ought not to have done at all. For she might easily suppose, that it could be no good being that could put such a question unto her, and insinuate such dishonorable thoughts of God. She should therefore have fled from him, and not stood to have parleyed with him at all. Immediately the ill effects of it appear, she begins to soften the divine threatening.
God had said, “the day that you eat of it you shall surely die;” or, dying you shall die. But Eve says, “You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”
We may be assured we are fallen into, and begin to fall by temptations, when we begin to think God will not be as good as his word, in respect to the execution of his threatenings denounced against sin. Satan knew this, and therefore artfully,
“Said to the woman, (verse 4) ‘You will not surely die,’” in an insinuating manner, “You will not surely die. Surely; God will not be so cruel as to damn you only for eating an apple, it cannot be.” Alas! How many does Satan lead captive at his will, by flattering them, that they shall not surely die; that hell torments will not be eternal; that God is all mercy; that he therefore will not punish a few years sin with an eternity of misery? But Eve found God as good as his word; and so will all they who go on in sin, under a false hope that they shall not surely die.
We may also understand the words spoken positively, and this is agreeable to what follows; you shall not surely die; “It is all a delusion, a mere bugbear, to keep you in a servile subjection.”
“For,” verse 5, “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
“What Child of God Can Expect to Escape Slander…”
What child of God can expect to escape slander, when God himself was thus slandered even in paradise? Surely the understanding of Eve must have been, in some measure, blinded, or she would not have suffered the tempter to speak such perverse things. In what odious colors is God here represented! “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,” (equal with God). So that the grand temptation was, that they should be hereafter under no control, equal, if not superior, to God that made them, knowing good and evil. Eve could not tell what Satan meant by this. But, to be sure, she understood it of some great privilege which they were to enjoy. And thus Satan now points out a way which seems right to sinners, but does not tell them the end of that way is death.
To give strength and force to this temptation, in all probability, Satan, or the serpent, at this time plucked an apple from the tree, and ate it before Eve; by which Eve might be induced to think, that the sagacity and power of speech, which the serpent had above the other beasts, must be owing, in a great measure, to his eating that fruit; and, therefore, if he received so much improvement, she might also expect a like benefit from it. All this, I think, is clear; for, otherwise, I do not see with what propriety it could be said, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food.” How could she know it was good for food, unless she had seen the serpent feed upon it?
Satan now begins to get ground space. Lust had conceived in Eve’s heart; shortly it will bring forth sin. Sin being conceived, brings forth death. Verse 6, “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Our senses are the landing ports of our spiritual enemies. How needful is that resolution of holy Job, “I have made a covenant with my eyes!” When Eve began to gaze on the forbidden fruit with her eyes, she soon began to long after it with her heart. When she saw that it was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, (here was the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eye) but, above all, a tree to be desired to make one wise, wiser than God would have her be, nay, as wise as God himself; she took of the fruit thereof, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. As soon as ever she sinned herself, she turned tempter to her husband. It is dreadful, when those, who should be help-meets for each other in the great work of their salvation, are only promoters of each other’s damnation: but thus it is. If we ourselves are good, we shall excite others to goodness; if we do evil, we shall entice others to do evil also. There is a close connection between doing and teaching. How needful then is it for us all to take heed that we do not sin any way ourselves, lest we should become factors for the devil, and ensnare, perhaps, our nearest and dearest relatives? “She gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
Alas! What a complication of crimes was there in this one single act of sin! Here is an utter disbelief of God’s threatening; the utmost ingratitude to their Maker, who had so lately planted this garden, and placed them in it, with such a glorious and comprehensive charter. And, the utmost neglect of their posterity, who they knew were to stand or fall with them. Here was the utmost pride of heart: they wanted to be equal with God. Here’s the utmost contempt put upon his threatening and his law: the devil is credited and obeyed before him, and all this only to satisfy their sensual appetite. Never was a crime of such a complicated nature committed by any here below: Nothing but the devil’s apostasy and rebellion could equal it.
To be continued