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…
This narrative teaches us great facts regarding temptation and sin.
I. REGARDING TEMPTATION.
1. Temptation often comes through Satanic influence. As in the cases of Eve, Judas, Ananias, so today Satan is busy in placing temptation before us. How he does it we know not, but he evidently has supernatural power to instill evil thoughts into our minds.
(1) Satan's method is to start doubts and queries in men's minds. By parleying with temptation Eve was lost.
(2) The narrative shows the subtilty of temptation. Satan was careful in this narrative not to lie outright. All error begins in one-sided truths.
(3) But with this presentation of a part of the truth, Satan took care that doubts should be awakened regarding God's motives.
2. But the narrative teaches that, though there be Satanic influence from without, there is a greater temptation from within (see James 1:14). Eve thought she should be as God if she ate the forbidden fruit. She reasoned as do so many foolish young people in these days who say about places of evil resort: "I want to see for myself. It isn't going to do me any harm, and I want to know about it." And so young men — bent on being as smart as their fellows and on knowing as much of the world as any body, and seeing the gilded apple, fair to look upon and promising temporal advantage, hanging in the liquor saloon, or the gambling resort, or the house of death — pluck and eat.
II. REGARDING SIN.
1. The question at once arises — Why did God forbid the eating of the fruit of this tree? The injunction was not arbitrary, we may be sure. The inherent wrong we do not know, but we are certain that it was essential to the character and destiny of man that there should be something prohibited. There must be law: first, because some things are inherently right and others inherently wrong; second, because without law, enjoining or forbidding, character can neither be tested nor developed.
2. We see again from the narrative that the essence of sin consists in unbelief. Why does God forbid this and enjoin that? Because He loves us and knows a contrary course would do us harm. What subtle conviction justifies us when we allow ourselves in disobedience to God's laws? Either that we know better than God, or that God lays His commands on us from selfish and ungenerous motives. It is hard to tell which conviction is the worse, but probably the latter is the more common. At any rate, it is clear that all sin originates in distrust of God. Doubting His wisdom or His truthfulness, or above all, His love, we rush on, heedless of His warnings, to our destruction.
3. There is a lesson in this narrative regarding the propagation of sin. No sooner did Eve eat the forbidden fruit than she offered it to Adam and persuaded him to be a sinner also. In this she did but carry out instinctively an inevitable law of sin. Sin is a contagious disease.
4. The penalty of sin is death.
(A. P. Foster, D. D.)
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?