January 9, 2021 | by: Scott Denny | 0 comments
Why did they listen? I’ve asked myself that more times than I can count when thinking about Adam and Eve and their interaction with Satan (i.e. the serpent) in Genesis 3. Forget for a moment that they were listening to a serpent talk. That always gets me, but that’s not the point of this article.
Taking a step back in the narrative, the only voice that both Adam and Eve heard up to that moment in time was God’s. He created them [Genesis 1:27]. He blessed them [Genesis 1:28]. He spoke to them [Genesis 1:28].
“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over [it].”
He created them and then gave them everything they would need and charged them to fill the earth. His only caveat: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die” [Genesis 2:16,17]
As I think about this setting, I wonder if that tree was smack in the middle of their day to day lives. I envision them walking by it daily, but paying no attention to it. They would have no reason to pay any attention to it. Their Creator spoke with them. God demonstrated His own concern for them by making Adam a ‘helper suitable’ for him [Genesis 2:18, 21-23]. Some would say He even walked with them, as he did in Genesis 3:8.
God, I believe, had given them no reason to not trust the veracity and the truthfulness of His words spoken to them. Why would they? He had never given them cause to disbelieve Him. Yet, as we read in Genesis 3, what they once believed to be true quickly and stunningly turned to doubt and disbelief at the simple suggestion that God couldn’t be trusted.
“[The serpent] said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, you shall not eat of the trees in the Garden?’” [Genesis 3:1].
“Did God actually say?” Four powerful words. Four condemning words. Four words that began the greatest lie ever told. A lie that cast doubt upon the truthfulness and trustworthiness of God’s Words.
They listened to those words, and then they looked, and as they looked at the tree they “saw that it 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” [Genesis 3:6]. The action Eve takes is to gaze at the tree, to study it, to examine it. Scripture tells us that Adam is right there gazing as well [Genesis 3:6], and as they gaze upon the fruit they begin to consider its value to them. They begin to consider by implication, “Can we trust God?”
As they consider the lie that God is withholding something good from them, the temptation rises in their hearts most likely for the very first time to doubt God’s word - to doubt the faithfulness of his words to them, and that desire gave birth to sin [James 1:14, 15].
Why, I wonder, did they even listen? Why did they not turn away? God had never given them reason to doubt Him, but in those moments, those brief moments, they decided to believe a single, solitary voice from a source they had no reason to trust. In that split second they yielded to their desires for more than what God promised [Genesis 3:6], and, in doing so, humanity’s relationship with God has been radically altered, distorted and perverted [Romans 5:12].
Lest we become too harsh on our first parents, aren’t we just like them? Don’t we tend to listen to other voices that urge us to doubt the trustworthiness and truthfulness of God’s words to us?
Think about the voices we listened to over the spring and summer during the height of the Covid shut-down and during the height of the protests over race relations. To whom or what did you listen? Did you listen to those who only agree with you? Did you listen to only those news outlets that confirmed your own suspicions or your own values? Did you listen only to those voices that spoke the loudest on race relations, Critical Race Theory, and the Black Lives Matter movement?
Did you only listen to your own desires, your own presuppositions, and your own experiences? Or did you pause, and let those voices be filtered through what God has to say about those matters? Because, beloved, God does have something to say on those matters, as we’ve explored tirelessly and lovingly through this newsletter and the pulpit.
Think about the onslaught of voices that scream for our attention just through social media. Tik-Tok, Instagram, Facebook, etc. captivate our attention. In those moments of mindless scrolling we can be tempted to think differently about what God says about our identity, our possessions, our relationships, our purity, our marriages, our children, our pursuit of righteousness and holiness, just to start. In those moments those ‘voices’ within each social media post can have a hint of “Did God really say?”
Do you listen to those voices? Do you gaze at what they offer? Do you weigh those voices against God’s? Are you easily swayed? Can you, as Christ did, say, “man shall not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God [Matthew 4:4].”
I can tell you from my own suffering that I have faced moments of extreme panic and anxiety. In those moments, the voices I listened to were my own. “If I could only know.” “If I could only figure out how.” “If only I had done things differently.” These voices and others like them tormented me for weeks. It was only when I humbly began to submit these voices to God’s truth about Himself and my circumstances did I find peace and rest. (Psalm 46 was that refuge for me).
I share that brief testimony with you, the reader, so that you might know that we all, even pastors, are prone to wander. We are all prone to listen to other voices. It is only when we run to the safety of God’s own words do we find true peace, true joy, true contentment.
Is God’s voice louder in your heart and mind than that of the world’s? Is it louder than your own voice? Is God’s voice, is His Word, something you listen to? Something you trust? Something you value and esteem?
Let me remind the reader that God has a few things to say about the very words you and I hold in the palms of our hands.
They are true words because God is the God of truth.
“God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?” [Numbers 23:19]
“Your word is truth.” [John 17:17]
They are trustworthy words because God himself is trustworthy.
“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.” [Psalm 9:10]
They are transformative words because God’s Words are life giving, life changing words.
“The law of the LORD is perfect reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right rejoicing the heart; the commandments of the LORD is pure enlightening the eyes…” [Psalm 19:7-8]
“Sanctify them by your truth. Your word is truth” [John 17:17]
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” [Hebrews 4:12]
These are not just lifeless words on paper or glowing on your mobile devices. These words are breathed out by God [2 Timothy 3:16] for our good [2 Timothy 3:17], and for the Christian, these words are life giving, heart changing words [Psalm 19:7-9]. Is it any wonder why David would say, “I have stored your words in my heart that I might not sin against you”? [Psalm 119:11]
There are far too many voices competing for our attention, so may I offer some suggestions to help us all resist the temptation to listen to those competing voices?
Did God really say? Yes, brothers and sisters,
He really did. Trust Him [Proverbs 3:5].
Scott Denny is an Elder at Grace Bible Church.