The Strategies of Satan
October 25, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Let me invite your attention this morning to Genesis 3:1. The title of our message this morning is, “The Strategies of Satan.” We’re continuing on in our verse by verse study through the Book of Genesis.
I want to thank Gabe for filling in last week, as he was teaching from the Book of Titus. I think last week was my last major speaking engagement for the year. So you guys are stuck with me for a while. Whether you like that or don’t like that, I’ll leave that up to you.
We’re continuing on in the Book of Genesis which has two major parts. We’re just in that first major part, Genesis 1-11, the beginning of the human race. That part, the beginning of the human race, has some subparts. The first of which we have finished: Creation. So, we spent a lot of time in Genesis 1 and 2, which is the first major thing that God calls our attention to, Creation itself.
Genesis 1, you will recall, is an overview of what God did in the six days of Creation, resting on the seventh day. Genesis 2, as we have studied it, is an amplification not of the six days but in amplification of Day Six. What exactly happened on Day Six, a more detailed look. And that’s what Genesis 2 is about.
Now we move away from Creation, and we move into the second major event that God calls our attention to, which is the Fall of man and woman. W. H. Griffith Thomas, a famous theologian, said this about Genesis 3, the chapter we’re going to begin looking at today. He says, “This chapter is the pivot on which the whole Bible turns.”
Unless a believer—unless a human being—understands Genesis 3, they can’t make sense of our world. What in the world is wrong with our world? What is wrong with human beings? What is wrong with people? Why is it that people need Jesus for salvation? That’s an unanswerable question if you don’t understand Genesis chapter 3.
I believe this: Genesis chapter 3 is a microcosm to the whole Bible. In fact, I would say that there probably isn’t a major doctrine developed later in the Bible that has not already been revealed in early form—germ form, if you will—as in Genesis chapter 3.
If you want to understand the Bible, you have to understand Genesis chapter 3. Consequently, I did prepare a little written summary for you. Page 1 is an outline of Genesis 3 that we’re going to be following, and what follows in that little handout is a paragraph by paragraph summary that I did a number of years ago on Genesis 3. And if you were to go home today and read this outline and summary, then you would see very clearly the big picture of Genesis 3 and where we’re headed.
Now when I say that the online folks hit the panic button and say, “We didn’t get one!” Our office will get inundated with hundreds of email saying, “We need a handout!” Don’t panic, online folks; we’re going to put it out there—probably next week. I forgot to do it this week. Just go to our sermon archives, go to the notes, and we’ll put it there in PDF form for you next week.
So here is the big picture of Genesis chapter 3. The chapter basically has five parts. Obviously, we’re not going to get very far today. But by the time we finish in the next few weeks, this is the ground we will have covered.
- You have the temptation by the serpent (verses 1-5). That’s what we’re going to look at this morning as time permits.
- The sin of Adam and Eve (verse 6).
- The results of the sin—results that are following us even today (verses 7-13).
- Then we’ll get to verses 14-19 where God Himself is going to impose judgments on creation because of this sin—ramifications and judgments that we are still experiencing to this very day.
- God’s gracious provision in spite of the sin.
Though it’s somewhat of a negative chapter, one of the things I really appreciate about chapter 3 is that it leaves you on a note of optimism, as we see God’s gracious provision in spite of the sin (verses 20-24). And it’s there you’ll see a very clear picture of the gospel of Jesus Christ in infant form.
That’s the big picture, but this morning we’re just taking a look at verses 1-5. Notice what He says here in verse 1. This is the first part of the verse; this is the temptation by the serpent of Adam and Eve. It says there in verse 1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”
A few issues there, in verse 1. Number one: who is the serpent? The serpent here is never called Satan, but the thing to understand about the Bible is it’s a self-interpreting document. The Bible interprets itself. The best interpreter of the Bible is the Bible! And a lot of times we are very impatient with the Bible, and we read into things from our own sanctified imaginations. We don’t need to do that; we need to be patient with the Bible and let the Bible interpret itself.
When you go to the Book of Revelation, there are two times that the Book of Revelation identifies the serpent as Satan. Revelation 12:9 says this, “…the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan…” Then it says the same thing in Revelation 20:2, “…the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan…” So, I don’t need to guess as to who the serpent is; the Bible eventually tells me that it is Satan himself.
Now, you’ll also notice that it says in verse 1 that the serpent was “crafty.” Why is he called crafty? He’s called crafty because everything we know about Satan is that Satan was at one time a high-ranking angelic being. Two times the Book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 28:14 and Ezekiel 28:16) refers to Satan as a cherub, or an angel. Satan, therefore, has incredible power.
In fact, Jude 9 tells us that even Michael, who is a high ranking archangel, would not get into a dispute with Satan concerning the body of Moses; he just said, “ ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ ” Not even Michael wanted to take on Satan.
We know from Revelation 12:9 that Satan deceives the whole world. Think of that! Think of the whole world walking under his deception. He has that deceptive ability because of his status that he once had as a high-ranking angel. This is why Ephesians 6:13 tells us to put on the whole armor of God.
God has given us armor in spiritual conflict. We need it desperately because Satan is much more powerful than us; he is an angel. And I think that’s brought out a little bit when it describes the craftiness of Satan.
One other quick issue is, “Why does Satan take the form of a serpent here?” Satan could have come into Eden in any form, I guess, he wanted. Maybe he could have taken the form of another human being. Maybe he could have taken the form of a tree or a rock, but he did not do that. He specifically assumed the form of a serpent. Did he possess the serpent? Or did he just take on the form of a serpent? We don’t know, exactly.
But he chose to come into Eden as a serpent—in the form of a serpent. Why would Satan do that? There’s a reason for it: it is to pervert—or reverse—a hierarchy that God established in Genesis chapter 1. One of the things to understand about Satan is he is not exactly what we would call a novel creator. God is the Creator.
What Satan does, though, is he takes the design of God, and he twists it. That’s what we call perversion. Look at what Satan today is doing with sexuality—a gift that God gave the human race—and look at how it is twisted and perverted by so many people. That is the work of Satan.
In fact, the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:2 says in the last days a scenario will arise where children will be disobedient to parents. (Gee, I’m glad that doesn’t happen today.) The parental child relationship—the authority structure between parents and children—doesn’t get erased; it gets perverted in the last days where the authority is reversed. That’s in essence what Satan is doing here in Eden. That’s why he took the form of a serpent.
We’ve studied this. The original design of God, going back to Genesis 1:26-28, is for Adam and Eve to rule creation for God. That was their assignment. It’s an office that we have tried to explain. It’s got a fancy name. It’s called the office of theocratic administrator—someone who governs for God.
The original design of God, the original blueprint of God, is for God to rule over Adam, alongside his wife, and they are to govern creation for God. That’s what God wanted. Satan comes into Eden in serpent form because he’s trying to reverse this. He’s trying to get Adam and Eve to no longer govern creation for God but to listen to creation—in particular, a talking snake.
In the process, he is getting them to listen to creation. And in the process of listening to creation—rather than governing creation—they will rebel against God. So it’s a top down perversion of the original blueprint of God.
Here we learn that Satan scored a major victory; he won this round. And that’s why today Adam and Eve are no longer governing creation for God. In fact, Satan has become the ruler of this world. Countless Bible verses explain Satan’s current role as the ruler of this world, whether it be, “the prince of this world, the god of this age, the prince and power of the air, a roaring lion who roams about seeking someone to devour.”
In fact, 1 John tells us that the world lies within his power. This is why we must put on the full armor of God because we’re on defense. We’re living on hostile territory. That’s why we’re called “ambassadors,” by the way, as Christians.
“Well, how did the world to get into this state? Because it certainly wasn’t in this state in Genesis 1.” Well, Satan came and perverted an office; he unseated Adam and Eve and took authority and dominion for himself. So, really, the goal of history is how that office is going to be restored to the earth one day through the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ.
As we move into the second half of verse 1—and then also verse 4 and verse 5—what we see here are Satan’s tactics—Satan’s strategies. At the risk of oversimplification, what I see here are four tactics and four strategies of Satan. As you leave this place today at the conclusion of the sermon, you’re going to see very clearly how Satan operates; because here we are in our time period in the 21st century and his strategies haven’t changed at all.
In fact, he doesn’t have to change his strategies, because most of us don’t even know what his strategies are because we haven’t been diligent students of the Word of God. And yet, if you study what Satan did here, you can see exactly what he’s doing in the lives of countless people today.
Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, other than Jesus Christ Himself, said the following in the Book of Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 1:9 he says, “That which has been is that which will be, And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” You read Genesis 3, you look at the world today, any you say, “Oh! Satan is using that strategy again,” or “he is using that tactic again.”
In fact, the Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 2:11, says something very interesting. He says, “…so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Did you know Satan has schemes? Some translations say that we are not ignorant of Satan’s “devices.” …strategies
The Apostle Paul knew exactly what Satan was up to because he was a student of the Book. He was a student of the Bible. He was a student of early Genesis. Most of us really haven’t studied very carefully what the Bible says concerning Satan, and so we’re caught off guard.
But Paul says that Satan strategies are nothing new. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” That word “scheme” there in Ephesians 6:11 is so interesting; it’s the word METHODEIAS in the Greek, where we get the word “method.” “You mean Satan has methods?” Yes. “You mean Satan has tactics?” Yes. “You mean Satan has strategies?” Yes, he does.
Going back to my basketball days… I played organized basketball from seventh grade all the way to my senior year in college. I remember that a day or two before a game, the coaches would always have us watch videos of the other team playing. And it was just part of the discipline of a season—video after video of the team we were facing that week—watching them play.
Why would we do that? Because that team was going to come against us through a strategy. And before you step on the floor—and if you want to win—you need to know what their strategies are. Who are their best shooters? How tall is the team we’re playing? Do they play zone defense? Man to man defense?
Do they pick you up at three quarters court? Full-court? Do they like to slow the ball down? Are they a running type of team? You step on the floor on game day, and you already know all this information because of the discipline of understanding methods and strategies of the opposition.
That’s what Genesis 3 gives you in these verses; it gives you the methods and the strategies of the opposition. So Satan has four strategies. (And there might be others; you can build from this.) But these are the four major ones; they are all revealed here in verses 1-5.
Strategy number one: he ads to God’s Word. “What you have in God’s Word is not enough,” Satan will convince you. “You need another layer of truth. This 66 Book finite revelation is not enough; it’s not sufficient.” Now, you see him implementing this strategy in the second part of verse 1 where it says, “And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’ ”
The problem is: God never said that did He? What is the original command? Genesis 2 reveals that original command in verses 16 and 17. “The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 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.’ ”
Easiest job description—probably—anybody’s ever had. “Do whatever you want. Eat from anything in the garden—freely. But the only thing that’s off limits is the tree of knowledge. Don’t eat from that tree, because that tree will kill you.”
And how interesting that Satan took that original command and made it look as if God said something that He never said. “And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’ ” That’s not what God said; in fact, God said the opposite! He just put off limits one tree—the tree of knowledge.
The Mormons—not if but when—will show up to your house on bicycles—well dressed, well-spoken young men—two of them. They bring two because one is a trainer and one is a trainee, and the guy talking to you at the doorstep is the one being trained. They will basically tell you that your Bible is nice. “It’s nice you’re a believer in the Bible, but it’s really not quite enough. You need these other revelations. There are three others—the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price—which are revelations of Jesus in North America.”
Did you know that? That Jesus had an appearance in North America—1700, 1800, something like that? “It’s nice you have your Bible, but the problem is you don’t have the complete truth.” That is a strategy that’s as old as Eden; it’s an addition to the Word of God. So many Christians will not make a move in any facet of their life until they have a vision, or they have some kind of dream from God, as if the Bible itself is not sufficient to help us to live a life of faith and godliness.
Strategy number one is Satan will always add to the Word of God. Strategy number two is that Satan will attack the goodness of God. He will challenge, in the mind of people, whether God is good or not. Let me tell you something about God: God is good all of the time! Amen? But Satan doesn’t want you to believe that. And you see that very clearly in verse 1, because Satan is making it look like God is more restrictive than He really is.
Verse 1, “And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed, has God said, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden”?’ ” That is not what God said! God said, “You can eat from any tree freely except the tree of knowledge.” So what Satan has done in the mind of Eve is that he has made God out to be restrictive. “God is the great meanie in the sky! God is holding out on you!” And resentment starts to build, if you will, between people and God.
This is such an effective strategy that it keeps countless people away from Christ. You know, when you get a chance to share your faith, do you do know what the unsaved person is thinking? “I can’t go along with what they believe in because my life is too full! My life is too enjoyable. And if I surrender to the things of Jesus Christ, Jesus has an agenda to make my life miserable. Look at all the things I’ve got to give up!” I can’t tell you how many people stay away from Christ because that’s what they believe—because that’s what Satan and his demons whispered in their ear.
The fact of the matter is Jesus said in John 10:10, “The thief [that’s Satan] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly [life to the full].” You think Satan wants people to understand that? Absolutely not! Jesus is not in the business of destroying the lives of men and women; He’s in the business of restoring them to what they were intended to be before sin entered the picture.
We’re going to leave, just for a minute, the strategies of Satan. I was giving you four; I’ve given you two so far. But as we move into verses 2 and 3, we’re going switch subjects. We’ll get back to Satan’s strategies in a minute.
But what were Adam and Eve’s mistakes here? Because Eve made several critical mistakes that caused her to lose that round. And Adam doesn’t get off the hook either, because he made a big mistake also.
You say, “Why should we study the mistakes of Adam and Eve?” For the simple reason that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Because you have the same conflict with Satan that Adam and Eve had. It’s delineated and described very clearly in Ephesians 6:10-18, putting on the full armor of God. You are in just as much a spiritual warfare with Satan—as am I—as were Adam and Eve. So you can learn an awful lot by what they did wrong and the mistakes they made.
Mistake number one that Eve made is that she subtracted from the Word of God. Look at verse 2, “The woman said…” Here is part of the problem, because why was she even talking to him to begin with? Think about how different the world would be if she just broke off this interfaith dialogue?
Notice verse 2, “The woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat…’ ” Guess what, folks? That’s not what God said! She just left out, from the original command, two crucial words! What God actually said, Genesis 2:16, is that from any tree of the garden they could freely eat. Now compare verse 16 to Genesis 3:2, and you’ll see very clearly that she omitted the word “any” and “freely.”
As if that weren’t enough, her second mistake is that she added to the Word of God. Look at verse 3 as this dialogue continues. Eve is speaking and she says, “ ‘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.” ’ ”
The problem? When you go back to the original command, Genesis 2:17, all God said is, “ ‘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.’ ” God never said a single syllable about touching it. What is developing in the mind of Eve is the beginning of what we call legalism.
Legalism is the idea that you are so fearful of violating the commands of God that you pass a bunch of man-made regulations in your mind preventing you from violating God’s commands. When the fact of the matter is, God never gave those commands! That’s what you call legalism.
The Pharisees did this with the Sabbath. In the intertestamental period there developed Phariseeism, and the Pharisees understood that violation of the Sabbath is what sent the nation of Israel into captivity. “So we’re never going to violate the Sabbath again.” So you know what the Pharisees did? They passed rule after rule—after rule—after rule—after rule—on what you could or could not do on the Sabbath!
In fact, I had to read some of those rules in seminary—it’s exhausting!—their founding document called the Mishnah and another one called the Talmud. And this is the whole conflict between Christ and the Pharisees because Jesus will allow His disciples to eat on the Sabbath. He will heal on the Sabbath! And suddenly the Pharisees are all upset that their rules are being violated. In fact, Jesus violated no rule of God because the Sabbath in its original design was designed to be a blessing to man.
What the Pharisees had done is they had built a fence around the Law. The problem with legalism is it starts off always well-intentioned, but eventually what happens is the tail starts to wag the dog. That’s what happened with the Pharisees. What became important to them was no longer God’s original purpose for the Sabbath but their traditions and their rules. And this is what is happening here with Eve by way of parallel.
You know, a lot of people think God is a lot more restrictive than He really is. Why? Because they’re under legalism—restrictions—man-made. “Don’t do this! Don’t do that! Don’t smoke or chew!” I’m not in favor of either, by the way. “Don’t smoke, or chew, or go with girls who do,” kind of thing, rules that start off well-intentioned. But then you start to say, “You know what has happened? I made a god of these rules. And I’m missing the blueprint of God and the program of God.” That’s what’s called building a fence around the Law.
The problem with Eve is she has a devotional understanding of Scripture but not a doctrinal understanding. She has a general idea of what God said, but she certainly doesn’t have it down cold. Compare that to Jesus Christ Himself when He was tempted by Satan in the Judean wilderness, Matthew 4:1-11. The same story is recorded in Luke 4:1-13.
Look at how Jesus responds in the midst of temptation; He gives the Scripture back—three citations from the Book of Deuteronomy. There are no additions and there are no deletions. Jesus wins His round with Satan. Eve loses her round with Satan. What’s the difference? Eve has a devotional understanding but not a doctrinal understanding.
Eve is reading the Word of God, as many American Christians do, to get the liver quiver of the day. But as far as devoting oneself to a deeper understanding of God’s Word, she obviously doesn’t have it, because she’s mishandling the Word of God here in Genesis 3:2-3.
You say, “Come on now, Pastor, Jesus had a little advantage, didn’t He? I mean, He was God! So, He was omniscient. So He never had to learn anything, right?” Well, Jesus was God, but in the Hypostatic Union (fancy word) eternal God or eternal deity at the point of the virgin conception was joined to humanity.
Jesus was sinless, but He had to go through the same growth stages anyone else has to go through. Luke 2:52 says this of Jesus, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom [that’s intellectual growth] and stature [that’s physical growth], and in favor with God [that’s spiritual growth] and men [that is social growth].” Jesus went through the normal maturity steps that all human beings go through. Jesus had devoted enough of His life to deeply understanding the things of God at a precise way so that He could bring them forth in the midst of temptation. And He stands up against the temptation of Satan and succeeds!
Eve folds. Eve doesn’t have the deep knowledge of the Bible—a doctrinal understanding. She has more of a devotional understanding. It’s interesting that Eve here, at the very beginning, is subtracting and adding—leaving things out—adding things in.
Isn’t that what we’re warned about in Revelation 22:18-19, which is at the very end of the Bible? “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”
How does the Bible end? With a very severe warning against adding and subtracting! How does the Bible begin? With Eve adding and subtracting! It’s almost as if God is saying, “Adding and subtracting to what I said is what got you all into trouble to begin with! Don’t ever do that again.” It forms an inclusio of the whole Scripture. So, what Eve is doing here is quite serious.
There’s a third mistake Eve made, and it’s in verses 2-3. In addition to adding to God’s Word, in addition to subtracting from God’s Word, she too starts to buy into the deception that God is not really good. “God really doesn’t love you! God really doesn’t want to bless you! In fact, God wants to come into your life to destroy you and hurt you.”
It’s very clear, because she deletes “any” and “freely.” Didn’t God say “any” and “freely” in Genesis 2:16? “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely.” She just left those words out! God was a lot less restrictive than she is paraphrasing Him to be.
And then, verse 3, she adds something that God never said. She moves into legalism and builds a fence around the Law. She adds the command that supposedly God said—which He never said—which is, “Don’t touch it.” Do you see what’s happening to her? “Don’t touch it!” “Any” and “freely” are left out. “God just took your world and shrunk it!” That’s a tremendous deception that Satan here is orchestrating.
You say, “You’ve been sort of hard on Eve here. What about Adam?” Here comes Adam! You ready for this? What we see in terms of their fourth mistake is the initial breakdown in male headship.
Adam is created on Day Six in Genesis 2:4-7. Adam is brought forth from the dirt. Then, in verses 16 and 17, God gives Adam that command; Eve doesn’t exist yet. Then, finally, after this command is given, God forms woman from man’s side (verses 18-25). In other words, if you just look at this chronology you see very clearly that Eve did not exist yet when God gave the command concerning the tree of knowledge to Adam.
Question: How is Eve supposed to learn it? I think there’s a very strong implication here that she was supposed to learn it from her husband. After all, he’s the spiritual leader, right? And yet she’s leaving words out and adding words. She has a devotional understanding of it but certainly not a doctrinal understanding. Could it be that Adam never did his job correctly and faithfully discipled his wife in spiritual things, which is the man’s job in the family? Wow! We’re hitting close to home here, aren’t we?
I mean, isn’t modern-day Christianity the story of the passive male? Look at our church. Look at any church! Who are the people that are really interested in getting here, getting the kids here? Not in every case, but typically what you see is it’s the female, the woman; the man is sort of dragged sort of grudgingly. We seek volunteers to step up in different offices. It’s easy for women to step up and do things. It’s hard to find faithful men who want to take that role of spiritual leadership.
It’s hard, in the home, to find a man who wants to lead his family, which is his church. Did you know that? That’s what God says! See, I’ve got two churches. I’ve got Sugar Land Bible Church, but that’s not even my most important church! My most important church has two members in it: my wife and my daughter. What am I doing in the home relative to that church and that assignment which God put me in authority over? I mean, is a moment of family altar, quiet time, prayer even on the agenda for the day? Or am I so busy with ministry that I’m neglecting my primary responsibilities at home? The passive male!
The problem with the passive male is it’s here at the beginning! I mean, Eve is bobbling around for the truth. Maybe he did teach it to her, and she didn’t learn it well. I don’t think that’s the case. I think there’s a very strong implication that he didn’t transfer it to her the way God wanted. There’s a reason why the command came into existence before Eve came into existence; there’s an order in God: God expected Adam to be that leader in the home.
So we see here an initial breakdown in male headship. And let me tell you something: Satan saw that. Satan, in the form of a serpent, saw that weakness; he saw that crack in the lining and he exploited it for his own purposes. He took advantage of it, and so Eve here is deceived.
So what did Adam and Eve do wrong? Particularly Eve in the first three, Adam in the fourth one. Eve subtracted from God’s Word. She added to God’s Word. To my mind, very clearly, she’s doubting the goodness of God. Then we also see (number four here) an initial breakdown in male headship. Are these lessons that we’re supposed to study to apply to our lives today? You bet! That’s why these things are recorded for us.
Going back to Satan’s tactics now. We’ve seen Satan adds to God’s Word. We’ve seen that Satan challenges God’s goodness. We pick up the conversation in verse 4, and what else is Satan doing here? Eve has spoken; now the serpent speaks in return.
Verse 4, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die!’ ” But what did God say originally? Genesis 2:17, “You will die.” God says, “You will die.” Satan says, “You won’t die.” Notice the progression here. It’s interesting to me that Satan doesn’t unload that lie initially; he waits till verse 4 to do that. The first thing he says is really not an outward denial of what God said; it’s just a layer of legalism that God never intended, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden,” which God never said.
After that lie is implanted in her mind, now he moves into progression and he moves in with a more overt lie, “Oh, you’re not going to die!” It’s fascinating to me to watch the strategies of Satan and to watch his progressive warfare that he is waging here on her mind. He doesn’t start off with his most powerful lie first; he starts off with a smaller lie. But once you believe a smaller lie, suddenly your mind is open up to a bigger lie.
I don’t member who said this, but it’s a wonderful quote. They said, “The road to immorality is paved through gradual compromises.” People don’t wake up one day and they’re immoral. There is a whole lot of thought patterns and decisions that they made long before which paved the way into immorality.
I had a pastor in the Dallas area who put it this way, “Private thoughts will eventually lead to public actions.” What compromises are happening in our minds as Christians that Satan is so interested in cultivating so that we make the big mistake down the road? When the whole thing could’ve been preempted by being diligent initially.
Satan’s great third strategy is to subtract from God’s Word. Satan hates God’s Word. In fact, you look at the state of the church in Europe which once was the cradle of the Protestant Reformation. There is massive Christian architecture all over Europe, once the home of thousands of worshipers. Walk into one of those churches on a Sunday morning. Who’s there? No one’s there—except maybe the pastor, and the janitor, and their respective families.
You say, “What went wrong?” I’ll tell you what went wrong: higher criticism came into Europe. What is higher criticism? It’s man sitting in judgment on God’s Word. “Oh, Daniel? He couldn’t of written the Book of Daniel in the sixth century! It must’ve been written by someone other than Daniel, after the fact, writing under a pen name “Daniel.”
“Oh, Isaiah? There’s no way Isaiah wrote the whole Book of Isaiah. Obviously, that was written by different Isaiahs—Proto, Deutero, and Trito. It was written after the fact to make it look like Isaiah is teaching a history lesson.”
JEPD theory came into existence in higher criticism in the 19th century—denial of Mosaic authorship. “Moses didn’t write the Book of Genesis. Someone other than Moses wrote it after the fact.” Why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke sound so similar? “Well, they all got their story from Q, or Quelle in German, which means “source.” And they all borrowed from Q! You don’t really think that the Holy Spirit gave three different men the same plot structure, do you? What kind of naive fundamentalist are you? They all borrowed from Q!”
“Oh! Well, can I inspect Q?” “Oh, we haven’t found it yet. But when we find it, this is exactly the way it’s going to read!” We take these ideas and we just say, “Those are silly ideas!” Let me tell you something: that’s higher criticism and it destroyed—it destroyed!—Christianity all over Europe.
The home places of Luther and Calvin all of the greats of the Protestant Reformation? That’s all a thing of the past. Europe is as post-Christian as you could get. Unless God does a work, Europe will never come back. The fastest growing religion in Europe today is Islam; it is not Christianity.
And let me tell you something: higher criticism almost destroyed the churches in the United States in the 1920s. It destroyed the mainline denominations, and God raised up a movement called the fundamentalists. And you should read about the fundamentalists: the RA Tories and people like that. They said, “No! Higher criticism is only going to go so far in the United States.” And they formed the breakaway independent churches. Had that not happened, Christianity in the United States would probably be in the same condition that it is in Europe.
Why did all of this happen? It’s verse 4. “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die!’ ” It’s now a blatant negation of what God said. By the way, did you know how the school system in the United States started? It started from this verse; it started from a fear of this verse.
Found in Massachusetts from 1642, it’s called the “Old Satan Deluder Law.” It’s what our forebears set up the moment their feet hit these shores. They passed a law, and the public school system as we know it started. And the law said the following. “It being one chief project…” Notice: not “project” but “chief project.”
“It being one chief project of that old deluder, Satan…” (Isn’t that what we’re reading about here?) “…to keep men from the knowledge of the Scriptures, as in former time…” What former time? The dark ages, prior to the light of the Protestant Reformation, where the Scripture was chained to the pulpits all over Europe and you were not even allowed to own the Scripture! And you probably were illiterate; you couldn’t even read it if you owned one. And you didn’t own one! Only the priest could read it. And, boy, the priests? Let me tell you: they knew how to manipulate the people. Because if the people don’t have the Scripture, they are misled very fast. “So you want Uncle Harry or Uncle Joe out of purgatory?” Like Johann Tetzel taught, “…then we need to see money rolling into the Roman Catholic Church.”
I’ve been to Vatican City and toured it. It is amazing the wealth that they have there. And there’s a reason they have that wealth: they did this for a thousand years. They lied and manipulated the masses, who had no ability to see through the deception, because they didn’t even own a Bible. The Bible is chained to the pulpit. The people are illiterate. The only people that could interpret the Bible where the priests. And the priests were involved in allegorization and brought interpretations from the Bible that had nothing to do with what the Bible says. That is the condition of Christianity probably from the fourth century all the way up to the 16th century—1200 years.
Then the Protestant Reformation happened, and God used it to bring us back to the light of His Word. Then the descendants of the Protestant reformers came to the United States. And they said (paraphrasing), “We’re never going to let that happen again! Because we know it is one chief project of Satan to keep men from a knowledge of the Scripture, as in former time.”
“We’ve lived through the dark ages. We don’t want to go back to that. So here’s what we’ve got to do: We’ve got to get everybody literate. Because if they’re illiterate, they can’t read the Bible!” And that’s the beginning of grammar schools.
The law goes on and says, “It is therefore ordered…that after the Lord hath increased the settlement…they shall…appoint one within their town, to teach all such children to read…they shall set up a grammar school to instruct youths…” Now why do parents send their kids to school today? So they can retire early because they picked the right stocks. That’s not the origin of United States. The origin of the United States is, “We’ve got to get people literate. Because if they’re not literate, they can’t read! And the Protestant reformers told us that it’s not just the priests who interpret the Bible; we’re all priests!”
Did you know that you’re a priest? Revelation 1:6 says you’re a priest in Christ. Well, how can you be a priest and go directly to God if you can’t even read His Word? If you can’t read His Word, you’re going to be manipulated by any ecclesiastical authority that comes along claiming to speak for God (i.e. Roman Catholicism).
It’s just interesting to me that those who founded the United States knew exactly what verse 4 was saying. Most of us just skip right over verse 4—they understood it very well!
Satan would have you do anything other than reading the Bible. He would have you in any kind of environment other than the environment you’re in right here where you are learning the Word of God. How do I know that? Because that’s Satan’s nature.
And one of the things Satan does is he snatches God’s Word away from people. Matthew 13:19, in the parable of the sower, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.” Luke 8:12 says, “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.”
Why is it that coming to a church like this on Sunday morning is such a battle? Why is it that my wife and I get along beautifully on Friday and Saturday, but suddenly Sunday morning every potential conflict you can think of arises? Why is it that the phone rings? Or the car won’t start? Or you get the desire, “Well, I guess I’ll just sleep in. I’ll go to Bedside Baptist.” Why the constant war? It’s because of verses like this—Satan hates the Word of God. He doesn’t want you to listen to the Word of God!
You know, it’s interesting. You can sit in the movie Star Wars (which I think is two hours) and you can have unbroken concentration, but to sit through a sermon? That’s hard! Believe me, I’ve spent a lot of time sitting where you guys sit. Suddenly your mind goes to, “What am I going to have for lunch? Did I talk to so and so? Will I see this person?” It’s so easy for the mind to drift away from the things of God; that is satanic; it’s right out of verse 4.
What is Satan’s third strategy? He diminishes God’s Word; he subtracts from God’s Word because he knows the promises of God’s Word—that the Word of God is living and active and that it is powerful. And the Word of God (Isaiah 55) when it is proclaimed does not return void! Promise after promise after promise! Do you think Satan wants you to be blessed in that sense? Of course not! Distraction.
It’s amazing the trouble we have with our little internet ministry and online ministry. I mean, all the other online ministries work great! Why is it that we fight—all of the time—all of these little technical things that come up? Because we’re teaching the Bible. And the moment you teach the Bible is the moment you put yourself in the line of spiritual attack, because Satan hates the Bible. He hates God’s Word. He doesn’t want you to hear the Bible! He certainly doesn’t want you to study it on your own! Hence distraction after distraction after distraction.
There’s a fourth and final thing that Satan does here. He offers wisdom without submission to God. Verse 5, “ ‘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.’ ” “You can be wise,” Satan says, “and you don’t have to submit to God to receive that wisdom. I will give it to you, Adam and Eve.” What a deception that is! Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.”
You can’t have wisdom until you have knowledge. You want to get smart? Submit to the authority of God. Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” You want to get dumb? Reject the authority of God. Romans 1:21-22 says, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools…”
That’s the United States right now. Why is that? You’ll see that something happened in 1963 which caused our SAT scores to plummet. And it wasn’t a lack of a Department of Education. It wasn’t the fact that not every kid had an iPad at that time. It wasn’t a lack of funding. 1962, 1963 was when the United States Supreme Court kicked God out of public life. Even though we had the Old Satan Deluder Law, “We’re too sophisticated for that, and we’re going to divorce Christianity from the public square!” And look at the results: we’ve become Romans 1 fools.
The idea that somehow you gain wisdom from your professor or from some enlightened guru—outside of God—is a deception. Because the Bible says very clearly that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
So Satan here is offering Eve something that God says is the opposite: you don’t need God for light; you don’t need God for illumination. Now, of course, Satan would use that one because that’s the lie he deceived himself with, isn’t it? The five “I will” statements of Satan, why he fell. Isaiah 14:14, in the final lie that he deceived himself with, Satan said, “I will make myself like the Most High.” So that deceived him, and now he’s using that same lie to deceive Eve.
He makes an interesting point here, Satan does. “ ‘For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.’ ” It’s interesting how many movements today teach that you can become a god. Shirley McClain, New Age, with her arms outstretched on Malibu Beach, said that over and over again, “I am god.” Mormonism basically teaches that you can become your own god and have your own planet.
So-called Christian television through its prosperity gospel (the idea that a Christian is entitled by divine right to a life of prosperity) has at its core the little gods doctrine. You have that right because you are a little god. That means Satan hasn’t changed anything in terms of methods and strategies. It’s the same old recycled stuff. There is nothing new under the sun.
Interesting. Look what he says here (paraphrasing), “For God knows that the day you eat from the tree is the day you’ll be like Him!” You see how he is back now to strategy number two where he is challenging God’s goodness? “God is holding back from you something! God is trying to take away from you something! And if you follow me, I’ll give it to you without God.” My goodness—plenty to learn here, isn’t there?
What are Satan’s four tactics in review?
- He adds to God’s Word (verse 1)
- He challenges God’s goodness (verse 2)
- He subtracts from God’s Word (verse 4)
- He offers wisdom without submission to God (verse 5)
What in the world did Adam and Eve do wrong? Four things:
- She subtracted from God’s Word (verse 2)
- She added to God’s Word (verse 3)
- She doubted God’s goodness (verses 2-3)
- Adam, as the passive male, set the stage for all this by not taking headship over his immediate family
I wish I had a nice Rah—Rah—Rah to end this with, but I really don’t. Because unless we understand history, we’re condemned to repeat it, we’re told. That’s why God has given us this history. Next week we’ll move into verses 6-13, where we’ll see the actual sin of Adam and Eve and then the results of that sin.
If you’re here today and you don’t know Christ personally, our exhortation is for people to hear the gospel and to respond to the light of the gospel through faith alone in Christ alone. Faith alone in Christ alone will transfer you from death into life. That’s what Jesus said in John 5:24.
Becoming a Christian is not a 12 step program; it’s a one-step program. It has nothing to do with joining a church or walking an aisle. We did have someone join the church earlier, but that doesn’t save anybody. It’s a matter of privacy between a person and the Lord, where they hear the gospel that Jesus, through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, bridged the gap between fallen humanity and a holy God. By simple faith alone in what He has done—that in and of itself saves the soul. And if that’s something that’s never happened to you, our exhortation to you—no matter where you are—even listening to this recording five years down the road—is simply to, by faith, trust in Christ—and Christ alone—so as to be saved. If you need more explanation, I’m available after the service to talk.
“Father, we’re grateful for the detail that You went into to preserve for us these tactics. Help us to not just be hearers of the Word, but doers of the Word, as we too are involved in spiritual warfare. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.”