The Temptation of Adam and Eve

The Temptation of Adam and Eve

The Temptation of Adam and Eve.

“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.” (Genesis 3:6).

In the Beginning. God created this magnificent world out of nothing but His power and wisdom. Then, out of love, God took dirt and water and sculpted Adam and Eve in His image. He gave them His breath of life, and then put them to work nurturing the Garden of Eden. God loved Adam and Eve, He was delighted with them, and He extended Himself into fellowship with them. God willingly established communion with humanity through Adam and Eve, like a painter who steps into His canvas and interacts with the characters in the painting. Adam and Eve didn’t fully realize how good they had it. God was their best friend, they lived in Paradise, and they had everything they could ever want or need. Then along came a snake.

The First Parents. Adam and Eve had it all, until they didn’t. They were made in innocence. They were not guilty of anything. They were innocent, but not perfect. They had the profound gift of free will, able to choose the right way or the wrong way, the good way or the bad way. Adam and Eve had no excuse for their moral failure. They should have seen the temptation coming a mile away. Maybe they had never had a conversation with a snake before, and were foolishly mesmerized by the interaction with the animal world. Maybe they were unaware that a truly evil fallen angel was disguised in this snake, and didn’t realize this being had the cunning of a genuine genius con man. And there was the snake, slithering in the very tree that was declared out of bounds for them by the Creator. Did Adam and Eve know they were talking with a demonic master who was the source of evil and death? Or did they blissfully walk right into this trap unawares? But there was no excuse. Our first parents knowingly broke communion with God, they were naively lured into disobedience. Satan lied, and Adam and Eve didn’t see through the deceit. They chose to believe Satan’s lie that “they will not surely die.” (Gen 3:4), even with their loving God’s words still ringing in their ears, “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat; for on the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (2:17). Sure enough, Adam and Eve died a spiritual death as they chewed the forbidden fruit. They separated themselves from their source of life.

Satan. The evil one. The fallen angel. The liar and deceiver. We may never know why God allowed Satan to enter the Garden of Eden, but he certainly made his presence felt. He who was once a shining angel of light in the service of God lowered himself to enter a common snake, a lowly snake, slithering in a forbidden tree, trespassing in God’s creation. Satan disguised himself in a snake, and seduced the first humans to rebel against their Maker. And God’s world has been reeling ever since, until the presence of God’s Son.

The Three Deceptions.  The three areas of temptations noted in 1 John 2:16 are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. John here is echoing those three temptations in the Fall: the forbidden fruit was good for eating (the lust of the flesh), a delight to the eyes (the lust of the eyes), and they would become wiser (the pride of life). The devil deceived Adam and Eve through their fleshly appetite, through their love of beauty, and through the promise of wisdom. Satan was fiendishly tricky and brilliantly dishonest. He knew how to appeal to the weak spots of humanity, of Adam and Eve, and he used these weak spots to his full advantage.

Broken Trust in God. Satan succeeded in whispering words of insurrection, in convincing Eve and Adam to doubt God’s pure motives. Before Satan, they trusted in God’s goodness, they assumed that God wanted what was best for them. But what happened? Eve was beguiled into doubting God’s intentions when God laid down the law about the tree of knowledge and the fruit of that one particular tree. First, Eve was led to question God’s thinking. She was brought to the point of contradicting God, thinking that maybe God didn’t have their best interests in mind. She started thinking that maybe God doesn’t know what He’s doing. Then Eve elevated herself by going beyond His word of warning, desiring to see for herself why she should be limited by God in this way. Her prideful ambition at this point helped her to make that final step in disobeying God’s word. She allowed Satan to fool her into thinking she could become independent from God. She chose to desire forbidden knowledge instead of trusting in God’s knowledge. She wanted that knowledge for herself. She fell for the oldest trick in the book… You can become your own god! Don’t trust God’s motives, Satan said, just defy His authority and become separate from Him and from all those rules. Don’t worry, you won’t die! God lied to you when He said that, said Satan. Hapless Adam, observing this interaction between Eve and the snake, could have intervened with a word of caution, but he didn’t. He simply took the forbidden fruit for himself, duplicating Eve’s sin. Adam and Eve, partners in crime. The first parents left us all something in their spiritual DNA, the tendency to repeat their monumental mistake of displacing God at the center. We humans in Adam and Eve’s extended family still have an essence of goodness, since we remain created in God’s image. But we are tainted and destined for spiritual death. Adam and Eve broke their trust in God’s character, and they died a horrific spiritual death. And that’s what we have inherited from our first parents.

Tree of Life. “To everyone who is victorious I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.” (2:7). In the center of the Garden of Eden, God planted two trees: the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of their fruit. The Tree of the Knowledge was an opportunity… It was a test of obedience. God gave them the freedom to choose to disobey God or obey Him. The other Tree was put there to fulfill man’s destiny of eternal life, the fruit of immortality. The problem after the Fall is that mankind fell into a state of sin, they were no longer innocent. To eat of the Tree of Life would now lead to a hopeless life, a sinful life with no hope of ever achieving innocence, a sinful life that would never end. God would not want sinners to eat of the Tree of life, He would not want anyone under the power of sin to have eternal life. So God needed to protect the Tree of Life at all costs. God knew that if Adam and Eve were willful enough to disobey God with the one Tree, they could sooner or later disobey Him with the other Tree. This would be a catastrophe. So the Lord stationed warrior angels to guard the Tree of Life, with swords of fire surrounding the Tree. Then He kicked out Adam and Eve, exiled out of the Garden. No one could possibly gain eternal life who was indeed a sinner. And the Tree has been untouched ever since.

Because of Jesus’ death and Resurrection, the power of sin has been broken, and the Tree of Life is now ready to fulfill the destiny of mankind, eternal life. This Tree is available in paradise. God wants to restore the Garden of Eden in the new heaven and the new earth, and so, sure enough, God has placed the restored Tree of Life in the middle of heaven. This Tree is now open for business, it bears a fruit that is ripe for each of the 12 months. And it has leaves that are intended for the healing of the nations, the nurture and care of all people. The restored Tree of Life reverses the curse of the Garden. So one can see that this Tree is in many ways the Cross of Christ. Jesus’ death has destroyed the power of sin, and paved the way for believers to have eternal life. The Cross is our source of life, and has taken away the curse of sin. Jesus promises that all the overcomers, the victorious ones, will eat the fruit of this Tree, destined for these who participate in Christ’s victory and salvation.

The Last Adam. There are two representatives of humanity: Adam and Jesus. Adam was born of the earth. Jesus was also of dust, but is not merely dust. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the body of a woman, born of both earth and heaven. Unlike Adam, Jesus is fully man and fully God, and is somehow 100% human and divine. All of humanity is spiritually related to one of these two spokesmen. Our destiny hinges on our relationship to these two men. Adam sinned, Jesus saved. Adam is the one into whom we are all naturally born. Jesus is the One through whom we can be supernaturally reborn. Adam inaugurated the old human race. Jesus ended Adam’s race and inaugurated a new spiritual species. Adam was the old creation, Jesus is the new creation, able to remake people into a new spiritual humanity.

Jesus’ representative obedience overcomes Adam’s representative disobedience.   Adam’s family line leads to spiritual death, and leaves an inheritance of guilt, a sinful nature, and God’s judgment. Jesus’ family line leads to life and leaves an inheritance of forgiveness, a new nature, and God’s salvation. Adam’s failure was reversed by Christ’s victory. Christ’s righteousness is more powerful that Adam’s sinfulness. Grace is more powerful than sin. Adam’s inheritance of sin was no match for grace, and his inheritance of death was proved powerless against eternal life.

By Adam’s offense, all have been condemned. That one man’s disobedience left an inheritance of fallenness, a tendency to sin. But Jesus’ righteous obedience left an inheritance of transformation, a free gift from God. Sin reigned through Adam. Purity reigns through Jesus. Adam was created in the image of God, but he tainted it through sin. Jesus redeemed humanity by retaining a perfect image of God, an untainted image.

Both of humanity’s representatives were tempted by the evil one. Adam’s fall seemed unlikely, since He was tempted while strong, in a garden paradise, a wholesome environment. Jesus’s victory was also rather unlikely, because He was tempted while weak, in a barren wilderness. Adam yielded to temptation while in an innocent world. Jesus refused to yield to temptation while in a sinful world.  Jesus’ spiritual strength proved to be the answer to Adam’s spiritual weakness. The human sin dilemma was solved, and Jesus solved it. The Last Adam undid the damage from the first Adam. The first Adam took the fruit from the Tree, and fell hard. Jesus elevated the race of Adam by reaching out to another Tree, the Cross. Through his sinful disobedience, Adam allowed the devil free reign in his life. Through His righteous obedience, Jesus bound the strong man once and for all. In the beginning, Christ co-created Adam. In the fullness of time, He recreated Adam into a new humanity. The Last Adam is the only Adam we’ll need to know.

Sin. Sin, without a doubt, stained God’s image in us. Sin distorted and damaged God’s image in each human being. But, sin did not destroy God’s image in us. Every person remains an image-bearer and is redeemable and transformable. Since very person still belongs to God, then everybody is still important to God. God’s love for reach person overrides the stain of sin, because of Jesus. Believe it or not, God continues to identify with each person. If we mistreat a fellow image-bearer, God takes it personally. When we disrespect someone else, God objects and is affronted. “Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator.” (Proverbs 17:5). Likewise, when we show compassion, we affirm our Maker. Loving others is a primary way we show our love for God. When we love other people, we are respecting and honoring the handiwork of God.

The Image of God to the Likeness of Christ. God created mankind in His image. Because of the entrance of sin, that image has become marred, tainted, broken. Christ has come to bring wholeness to the broken image, restoring the image to its pre-sin existence. Christ is the image of God, and now we are to be remade into the image of Christ. “For He knew all about us before we were born, and He destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of His Son.” (Romans 8:29, TPT). The Message puts it this way: “God decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.” Believers are called to be “conformed to the likeness of His Son.” (NIV). Father Patrick Reardon put it still another way: “Christ is the original meaning of humanity. Christ is what God had in mind when He reached down and formed the first lump of mud into a man.” (Christ in the Psalms). We are to be stamped with the likeness of Christ. The Orthodox church believes that as Man, Christ is the image in which man was made and toward which man is moving. Christ is the perfect image of God, and believers are being restored into His likeness.

“The actions of both Adam and Christ affect the entire world. Death passes to all who are Adam; life passes to all who are in Christ. Each is a corporate head of a race of people. God sees every person as in Adam or in Christ.” (Dr. Brian Simmons)