Before creation, in eternity past, God exists in three Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. We refer to God in three persons as the Trinity.
The Trinity shares a common image and likeness. They belong to One another. God the Father, Son, and Spirit communicate with One Another in a loving relationship. They are in complete agreement and work together for the same purpose. The Trinity is in perfect unity.
The unified Trinity work together in harmony to create a universe. We see the beauty of the Creator in His creation. We taste and see that the Creator God is good. As we observe the universe, we conclude that unity is an essential design element. All life comes about and is sustained by every part of the universe working in a unity relationship. Every person born is the fruit of a union of a man and a woman becoming one flesh.
In the beginning, everything in the universe works in one accord. Water and land, plants and animals, stars and planets, and light and darkness worked in unity. The universe was a display of perfection.
But, today, we witness that the universe is not perfect. Unity is gone. Wars, fighting, conflict, discord, strife, arguing, and trouble is found on every street and in every house. Something happened. What happened to God’s perfect design?
The explanation of what happened is found in Genesis chapter three. A talking snake visits the Garden of Eden.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. (Genesis 3:1)
“Why is the serpent there? Where did the serpent come from? Why does the serpent speak with Eve? What is the serpent seeking to accomplish?”
The Bible is the best place to look to find answers to questions about the Bible. Numerous passages in the Bible help us to know about the serpent in the Garden of Eden. We will look at four.
We learn the identity of the serpent in John’s Revelation.
And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Revelation 12:9)
We don’t have the time to explain John’s vision in more detail other than to note that the serpent is Satan, the devil. Early in the creation of the universe, Satan, the devil, existed in heaven. He was cast out of heaven by God along with angels that chose to follow Satan and rebel against God. It is believed that up to a third (Revelation 12:4) of the angels took part in the rebellion. The Bible calls the fallen angels demons. God sends the rebels to earth.
When we read the New Testament, we learn of how Satan and demons destroy the lives of people.
Jesus tells His disciples that He was watching as Satan fell from heaven like lightning (Luke 10:18). In the book of Job, we read that when God asks Satan where he has been, he tells God that he was roaming and walking about on the earth (Job 1:7).
(Turn to Ezekiel 28:13-16)
Our second passage speaking about the serpent is found in Ezekiel. The prophet Ezekiel gives us insight into Satan before his rebellion. He writes:
You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the ruby, the topaz and the diamond; the beryl, the onyx and the jasper; the lapis lazuli, the turquoise and the emerald; and the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, was in you. On the day that you were created they were prepared. You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you. By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God. and I have destroyed you, o covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:13-16)
Ezekiel reveals that Satan is created by God. He was an anointed angel (a cherub) of great beauty. He used to exist on the holy mountain of God until he chose to sin and became full of violence. Therefore, God cast him from heaven.
(review) The serpent in the Garden is Satan, the devil. He is an angel who rebelled against God. God casts him out of heaven onto the earth because he is full of violence and sin.
The third passage giving insight into the serpent is found in Isaiah’s prophecy.
“How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ Nevertheless, you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:12-15)
In Isaiah, we learn of the serpent’s motive. Satan thinks so much of himself that he believes his throne ought to be above God.
Satan is an immensely powerful being. Imagine seeing God on His throne and thinking that you are powerful enough to take His place.
Satan is not as powerful as he thinks. Ultimately, the sovereign God of Israel defeats Satan and banishes him to hell; a place created for Satan and the fallen angels.
Until that final judgment, Satan lives on the earth. His objective of being worshipped is blatant. Satan tempts Jesus, God the Son, by saying he will give God the Son all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him (Matthew 4:9).
Satan seeks to disrupt unity between God the Father, Son, and Spirit. His objective is to change the affections of everyone, angels, animals, people, and God the Son away from God.
The last passage to look at is in Ephesians.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
We are in a struggle. There are rulers, powers, and forces who want us to not love God (love and worship are the same). A battle is taking place for our heart affections.
Our heart is the seat of our affections. Muscles and intellect cannot fight a spiritual battle that takes place in the heart. We cannot win against Satan and demons without Christ. We are to know Him intimately with our hearts. Once we know Him, we must fight to stay in a loving relationship.
There are many other things that the Scripture says about Satan. He disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is a murderer and the father of lies (John 8:44). He is the ruler of this world who works in the lives of unbelievers leading them to disobedience (Ephesians 2:2). Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10) and he prowls about like a roaring lion seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8).
In summary, the serpent in the Garden of Eden is Satan, a fallen angel who seeks to glorify himself above God. He wants us to love him and not God. Satan’s battle is a work to destroy our relationship with God. He wants us to hate God and not be in unity with Him. Our unity with God is essential for life, so Satan works against our unity with God.
The main idea for today is to strive to understand and avoid those things that work to bring about the destruction of unity. We must fight against those things that seek to destroy our unity with God and one another.
In every battle, it is vital to know the tactics of the enemy. Our goal today is to identify the tactics of the enemy so we can fight for our joy and protect our relationship with God.
This morning, we will look at four things that the serpent uses to bring about the destruction of unity.
(Turn back to Genesis 3.)
The first tactic is to cast doubt on God’s word. He does so in the form of a question. He asks Eve, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” In other words, “Can God be trusted? Are you sure He is good? Maybe God said something different.”
Before we look at Eve’s response, we need to look at what God did say.
The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)
God spoke to Adam before Eve is created. Eve receives the command second-hand. Perhaps this is why Satan approaches Eve and not Adam.
God did not say, “You shall not eat from any tree,” as Satan says. God says not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
We can see in Eve’s response that she is not quite sure of the command. She says, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” Eve adds to God’s command. God did not say, do not touch the fruit. But, only not to eat the fruit.
Satan will cast doubt on God’s word by twisting it, so it becomes confusing.
The next tactic we see is that Satan will blatantly contradict the truth. The serpent says, “You surely will not die!”
Satan is the father of lies. He knows better. He contradicts the truth and tricks Eve into believing that if she eats the fruit, she will not die. In other words, God cannot be trusted and doesn’t know what is best for you. “Eve, why should you listen to God who doesn’t tell you the truth? How can God care for you when He tells you that you will die when you will not die?”
The lie continues. Satan says that God has an ulterior motive. Satan wants Eve to not love God and worship Him. Satan desires that he be worshipped and not God. The way for Satan to be worshipped is that people not love God by believing God does not have their best in mind.
How many times have we heard people say that they will not obey God because it will ruin their fun? Satan teaches that worshipping God is a killjoy.
Satan tells Eve, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan is convincing Eve that God is holding back. There is more to be had, but God does not want you to have it. The implication is that a loving God does not hold back what is good. Satan wants Eve to think that it is a good thing he is there. Otherwise, they would never know this juicy piece of information.
Satan is getting Adam and Eve to believe God is not worthy of love and devotion because He is holding back from us. Satan wants us to believe the only way to satisfy our hearts by not obeying God.
Eve believes the lies of Satan. She is tempted by her affections. Look at how her fleshly heart affections become involved. Eve sees the tree is good for food and she wants to tickle her taste buds. The fruit is a delight to her eyes. Her eyes tell her heart to eat the fruit and find satisfaction. Eve’s brain tells her heart that joy and satisfaction are found in being wise. The fruit of the tree is the ticket to make her wise.
1 John 2:16 sums up Genesis 3:6. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (1 John 2:16).” The tree is good for food – lust of the flesh. The fruit is a delight to the eyes – lust of the eyes. The tree is desirable to make her wise – boastful pride of life.
Eve takes the fruit because she believes it will satisfy her heart. God no longer satisfies her heart. She eats it, and Adam eats it as well.
Immediately, we see the loss of unity in God’s creation. The goodness of God’s creation is no longer very good.
The loss of unity brings about tragic consequences. We see the consequences in Genesis 3:8-19.
No longer is the world a great place of joy. Pain and work become part of life. The heart does not find joy in the harvest of creation because the ground is cursed. No longer is gardening easy. Harvesting fruit is hard work, toil, and sweat. Along with the fruit are thorns and thistles which pierce the skin and bring pain.
Eve also suffers great pain in childbirth. The joyful fruit from the unity of marriage that brings life is now a source of great pain.
Another consequence is the damage to the relationship between Adam and Eve. Satan seeks to sabotage the unity of the man and woman, so he tempts Eve.
When God asks Adam if he ate from the tree, Adam immediately shifts the blame and “throws Eve and God under the bus.” “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit.” It’s as if Adam is saying to God, “If You had not given me the woman, this would not have happened.”
Eve also shifts the blame and says, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
God changes the marriage relationship. The man now rules over the woman.
Satan’s goal of sabotaging marriage continues today. Marriage is under constant attack. The god of this world does all he can to devalue marriage. Ruining marriages brings great disunity in our society. Attacking marriage is attacking the image of Christ, the Bridegroom, and His bride, the church.
Adam and Eve damage their relationship with God. They hear the LORD God walking in the garden, and they hide from His presence. They are afraid and ashamed.
No longer do they look forward to being with God, but hide from Him instead. Sin makes us enemies of God (Romans 5:10). No longer do we seek to enjoy God, but we run from Him. Sin makes us believe that God is not good. Sin distorts us to think our satisfaction is not found in God and that He is not worthy of our heart affections.
Satan is still at work today. He blinds the eyes of the unbelieving so that they might not see the glory of Jesus (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Paul is fearful that the church in Corinth will be led astray. He writes:
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Notice the word, devotion. The simplicity and purity of the Christian faith is to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Satan seeks to lead us away from loving God. He does not want us to have heart affections (devotion) to God the Son.
The final consequence is judgment and death.
God first condemns Satan. He declares him to be cursed.
God judges Adam and Eve. The death God promises happens. They are taken from the dust of the earth, and to dust they shall return (Genesis 3:19).
The death they experience is both physical and spiritual. Everyone who is born eventually experiences physical death. Even more tragic, is that everyone born after Adam and Eve are born spiritually dead.
Just as we receive our DNA from our ancestors, we receive spiritual death from Adam. The Bible says, through Adam, sin entered the world. Because we are descendants of Adam, we are born with Adam’s sin nature. We are born as sinners, and death spreads to all of us because we have sinned (Romans 5:12).
In the same passage that God declares judgment and death, God also gives the first of many revelations that He will bring a Savior.
God tells Satan:
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Through the seed of a woman, God will give birth to a man who will crush the serpent's head. The bruising of Satan’s head will come at a price. Satan will bruise His heel. The good news is the bruise to the head is fatal while the bruise to the heel is not.
The man will not come from Adam’s seed, but from Eve. He will not be born with Adam’s sin nature. This verse speaks about Jesus. Jesus is not born of Adam because He is born of a virgin. In Luke’s gospel, the angel Gabriel tells Mary, a virgin that, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason, the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Jesus is the Holy offspring of the Holy Spirit. God demonstrates His love toward us. He does not sit back and allow Satan to receive worship. Satan will be crushed by God the Son.
The Apostle John writes:
The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8b)
The works of the devil include broken relationships, pain, sorrow, idolatry, sin, and death. In the Garden of Eden, because of His great love, God promises to destroy the works of the serpent and bruise his head.
Unity is lost when man and woman sin against God and disobey His command. But God demonstrates His glory and proves He is worthy of our worship and adoration. God is good.