From doubt to disobedience
And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing (=persuasive) words.
B3.1 From doubt to disobedience
Now the serpent was more subtle 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? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil; And when the woman saw that the tree good for food, and that it pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
We now move on to the incident when Eve was tempted. It is perhaps the example par excellence of what Paul is referring to in Colossians. That is to be beguiled by enticing words.
Now we need to keep in mind the original command of God.
God said that Adam and Eve could eat of any tree, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they shall not eat, for in the day they did they would surely die
The first thing to note is what Satan said: “hath God said?” Instead of a full-frontal denial of God’s Word, the Devil used the subtle approach of putting doubt into Eve’s mind. It is the same tactic he used against Jesus in the wilderness in the Lord’s temptations Mtt.4:3: “if You be the Son of God….”. The point being is that only days before, the Father had declared Jesus to be His beloved Son Mtt.3:17.
In these days there is such an assault on the Scriptures that we need to be watchful that we don’t get caught up in it all. There are many who now doubt and flatly deny the infallibility and inerrancy of scripture, despite scriptures such as II Tim.3:16.
Of course there has always been an assault on God’s Word, whether by banning it, burning it or the men that proclaimed and translated it. However, in these days such extreme measures are not employed so the devil tries to destroy God’s Word by bringing doubt into people’s mind.
If it were just those in the world doing so that would be understandable, but sadly there are many professing believers who doubt the scriptures as being God’s Word. They bring doubt saying things like the words of Jesus recorded were not His actual words and need to be interpreted accordingly. Or the OT record of Israel’s history needs to be understood in what the children of Israel thought what God said!
This ‘hath God said’ is dangerous, once accepted into one’s thinking it leads to the next step.
Eve made a fatal mistake in conversing with the devil, this only reinforced the suggestion in Eve’s mind. Compare this with Jesus’ response to the devil, Mtt.4:1-11, in His temptations Jesus quoted scripture and refused to engage in any discourse.
All this led to Satan then suggesting a full denial of what God said.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil;
Instead, the devil offered some false way of living. In this case the devil offered Eve to be like God, just as he originally wanted to be, with knowledge of good and evil. But it was lie and the devil knew it.
Such is the pattern that these dangers the Colossians were facing. Vain Philosophy rejects God’s word and promises special knowledge whereby the ‘divine spark’ may be realised, that is knowledge to achieve self-realisation. Exactly what the devil promised Eve!
Legalism rejects Christ’s redeeming work and relies instead on self-effort. Mysticism rejects the all- sufficiency of Christ, and instead seeks ’experiences’ to achieve salvation or a closer life with God, whatever they might mean by that. All these ways either ignore or reject the revelation of scripture:
Nor is there salvation in any other. For there is no other name [ie Jesus] under heaven whereby which we must be saved
The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise; say not in thine heart who shall ascend into heaven? (That is to bring Christ down from above) or who shall descend into the deep? (that is bring Christ again from the dead) But what saith it? The Word is nigh even in thy mouth and in thy heart that is the word of faith we preach. that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest [=torture] as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction
But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
Both Paul and Peter give us warnings about handling the Word of God. We are warned of torturing the scriptures and of handling it deceitfully. Let us be faithful to what God says and reject any doubt towards His Word.
All this ended in Eve’s disobedience. This is the fruit of all the above. It just started with a little doubting of God’s Word. Mighty forests indeed grow from small acorns, in the spiritual realm as well as the physical. We do no better than heed Paul’s warning.
Be not deceived God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that also will he reap.
We see in this incident Satan’s way of beguiling with words. There is a doubting of God’s Word, which if accepted leads to a denial and finally a disobedience of God’s Word.
Instead let us be like Jesus, who in the wilderness was tempted by the Devil and overcame. Scripture is given for our instruction. Let us learn well and be not enticed by anything that will make us doubt, deny or disobey God’s Word, and hence take us away from Christ.