Now the serpent was craftier 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’?” 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.’ ” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden – Genesis 3:1-8.
This debate between Eve and the serpent is one of the most theologically rich conversations in all the Scriptures. Eve’s dialogue with the serpent is amazing! You can find a whole tapestry of bible woven into one discussion: there is discussion about God himself related to his existence and what is God like. The two of them touch on the nature of God’s character; divine revelation, biblical theology, Systematic theology, theological ethics, epistemology, exegetical understanding and God’s authority. One even sees that which we would call sanctification – how does one become more like God is the bait to bring destruction and separation from the very God they claimed to know.
This conversation between Eve and the serpent, while deeply rich with biblical truth, ends in failure. In spite of having some of God’s Word memorized and Eve’s diligence to search for understanding, Eve stumbles in the end. In spite of her persistence to search out truth and apply her life to that truth, Eve makes a horrible decision to disobey God and buy into the temptations of the serpent. But this suddenly raises the question, is God’s Word not powerful enough to help Eve? They talk about God, discuss his word, examine the ethics of God’s wisdom and debate all these things but she falls to allow God’s Word to rescue her from temptation. If God’s word is so powerful how does she fail? There are many factors involved in this but let me propose one that is often overlooked, the power of his personal presence.
The key element missing in this discussion is the power of the personal presence of God himself. Notice three things: first, God’s personal name, LORD is dropped after the opening statement in verse one and only comes back in verse eight. Why is that important? The name “God” is the word Elohim. This is the name used in the first two chapters of Genesis referring to the almighty creator God who brought all things into existence. The personal name of God (LORD – Yahweh) is the same name revealed in Exodus 3 when Yahweh appeared to Moses. This name refers to the personal presence of God. If Eve had called for a “time-out” and invited the LORD (Yahweh) to be personally present with her in this discussion, His presence would have solidified His word and ended the debate. Secondly, the key to overcoming temptation is having a firm grip on God’s Word AND embracing the power of God’s personal presence. Notice in verse eight that the LORD God makes his presence known to Adam and Eve, but they now run from the LORD God and hide. The power they needed for forgiveness, healing and restoration was the very power they were now hiding from. Ironically, we have been running from that power ever since. The power that they wanted (Elohim) of a powerful creator was not the power they needed to overcome temptation (Yahweh). They absolutely needed God’s Word but they also needed the power of God’s personal presence. When these two key resources: God’s Word and his personal presence are not fully embraced by his people we stumble. Third, the sovereign, all-powerful creator is what we often want to take away our temptations but it is the power of God’s personal presence that is most effective to keep us from being a victim to temptations. If we cannot embrace the reality of the power of the personal presence of Christ we are more vulnerable to temptation than if we are only relying on God’s Word… believe it or not.
Just for the sake of discussion, Jesus told his disciples to “abide in me and abide in his word”. We need both!
In His grace, Pastor Brad