Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.” (Genesis 3:1-4)
Did God actually say? Wow. That's classic. I find that whenever the devil really wants to hook me, he'll start with this phrase. The key here is to get me to question what I really heard God say. Because sometimes I can't remember exactly. That's why it's so important to keep a journal where I write what I hear Him saying. And a Bible where I highlight things and make notes. I have to be able to go back and remember clearly what God said so I can correct the devil when he tries to trip me up. “No, devil, what He actually said was . . . .” All of a sudden, I'm feeling a little stronger.
Neither shall you touch it. Did God ever really say that? As far as I can see, God told Adam not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He never said not to touch it. But from time to time I find that God putting a boundary around something creates irritation in me such that I get a little bitter. I might even have a bit of a huff. And exaggerate the limitations just to make a point about how “put out” I am. Instead of living within the other wide open spaces God affords me, I focus on the one thing he said not to do. And in so doing, I unleash a spirit of legalism on me and those around me. The resulting bitterness is a sure ticket to temptation realized (a/k/a “sin”) because it assumes God is not a good Father and wants to keep good things from me. So. Not. True. Unleash gratitude to God and then try to work out what the boundary is all about. You'll have a much better result.
You will surely not die. How is it that the devil can be so bold faced? It is clear in reading Genesis 2:17 that God said if Adam ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil he would surely die. But a closer examination of the language used reveals that God said Adam would die in the “day” – or within the age – when he ate of that tree. The devil is basically saying, “Hey, listen, you won't die TODAY, so maybe it's worth it.” And therein lies the real fuel of temptation. What can I get away with before the consequence catches up with me? Will the thrill of the first few moments of giving into temptation be enough to quell the disappointment and the devastation when the consequence finally kicks in? Time and time again, the answer for me is a big, fat NO. I need to remember this when presented with the idea that I may actually get away with something for a little while. If God says it will happen then it will happen. I shouldn't even consider dipping a toe in! I need to remember that from the very beginning and run the other way as soon as I hear that telling question, “Did God really say . . . ?”.