Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said…
I. THERE ARE MANY THINGS AGAINST WHICH GOD HAS UTTERED HIS VOICE IN EVERY MAN'S HEART; in which, even independently of written revelation, He has not left Himself without witness. He who lives in concealed or open sin knows full well that God hath said he shall surely die. But in the moment of temptation the certainty of ruin is met by a counter assertion of the tempter — "Thou shalt not surely die": "Do the act and cast the consequences to the winds." We have a notable instance of this in the case of the prophet Balaam. Men with the full consciousness that God is against them persist in opposition to Him, till they perish; persuading themselves, from one step to another, that matters shall not turn out so badly as God's words and God's monitor within tell them that they shall.
II. THERE ARE OTHER CLASSES OF PERSONS, BESIDES NOTORIOUS PROFLIGATES WHO ARE CAUGHT BY THIS DEVICE, "Thou shalt not surely die."
1. God has declared, "To be carnally minded is death." To be carnally minded is to be of the mind of the children of this world, to view things through a worldly medium, to pass day by day without a thought beyond this world, and as if there wore no life after this life. Of this kind of life God has said that it is death, that those who live it shall surely die — nay, are dying now; and by this is meant that such a life is the immortal spirit's ruin, that it breaks up and scatters and wastes all man's best and highest faculties. "Ye shalt not surely die" is the tempter's fallacy with which he deludes the carnally minded. He persuades them that they can give this life to God's enemy, and yet inherit life eternal.
2. God has said, "He that hath the Son hath life; but he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" — i.e., "If ye have not the Son of God ye shall surely die." How many of us have any persuasion of the reality of this sentence of death? How many have eared enough about it to ascertain what it is to have the Son of God? Whosoever has not by his own personal act taken Christ as his, has not life, and must certainly die eternally: first by the very nature of things, for the desire for God has never been awakened in his heart, the guilt of sin has not been removed from him, nor its power over him broken; and then by solemn declarations of the God of truth — "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, for the wrath of God abideth on him."
III. Mysterious as the history of our fall is, its greatest wonder is this: THAT GOD OUT OF RUIN DROUGHT FORTH FRESH BEAUTY; out of man's defeat, his victory; out of death, life glorious and eternal. Thou shalt surely live is now the Divine proclamation to man's world. "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world."
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?