Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. Genesis 3:1
It is hard for us today to see how a serpent could have tempted Adam and Eve. Today I think most people think of as some kind of snake as the tempter. But we need to remember two things. First, neither Eve or Adam knew fear. For them there was no reason to fear a serpent or a snake. They were all God’s creatures. Second, this particular serpent was Satan in disguise. Since this was probably their first encounter with Satan they had no idea how well he could lie.
I think it was CS Lewis in the Screwtape Letters (please let me know if I am wrong) that said there are two views of Satan that he really wants us to believe. Either that he does not exist or that he is that comic character with a red suit, pointy tail and a pitchfork. Either belief lets Satan work virtually unhindered. If we don’t believe he exists then we have no reason to suspect he is working in the world to mislead us. Of course if he is this comic book character then there is no reason to fear him. How could such a silly looking character cause us any harm?
Satan appeared to Eve and Adam as a serpent because he knew they would not be afraid of him in that form. When he appears to us it will not be in some freighting form or a comic form. He will appear in a form that is enticing to us. He will tell us just enough truth or his version of the truth to get us to move in his direction. He will even use God’s word to turn us down the wrong path. That is how he tried to tempt Jesus. Jesus knew God’s word and saw how Satan plucked verses out of context; Jesus answered Satan with all of God’s word. Many people are turned away from God by having someone uses scripture out of context. It is up to each of us to know God’s word and know it in context.
This is especially needed when cults know on your door Bible in hand ready to us it to show you how their beliefs are correct. Too many are led astray because “it’s in the Bible” so it must be true. And of course it is true if it is in the Bible but it is true in the context of the whole Bible. We are not allowed to pick and choose verses to support our beliefs. And we need to be able to show others the truth of God’s word by showing them the verses around the verse they have cherry picked out.
One quick example, one Saturday morning a few years back a member of the Jehovah’s Witness (JW) came knocking on my door. He would quote a verse and I would ask him to either start a few verses before the one quoted or to continue to read the verses afterward. At one point he mentioned that they believed the JW were the 144,000 mentioned in Revelations. I told him that the 144,000 clearly related to 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel and then asked how they came to that conclusion and he said that because the Tribes mentioned were different from those mentioned in the Old Testament. This led to some flipping back and forth and I am sure that I was unable to convince him that when God mentions the twelve trips He is always talking about Israel. As to why the tribes mentioned are different, that is for another post.
With God’s word there is always a consistent answer. God does not contradict Himself but Satan will always contradict God. Satan is prowling around looking for those he can deceive; it is up to us to rightly use the Word of God to defend against Satan’s lies.
Have a blessed day,