I never really thought about this before, but since Eve hadn’t yet gained the knowledge of good and evil, she probably had no reason to doubt the serpent. She couldn’t yet understand that he was being deceptive and had evil intentions. She didn’t yet know what evil was, and that it was behind the snake’s advice.
We know, though. So when we read the story, it’s obvious to us that he has evil intentions to harm her and their relationship with God, to ruin God’s greatest creation and to grieve His heart. It’s like watching a scary movie where the viewer is yelling, “No, don’t go in that room! He’s waiting there with a knife.” And we snicker at the foolishness of the person for going in there and getting themselves killed.
So this is my question . . . how could she be held accountable for her ignorance? She had no real reason to distrust the serpent, other than the fact that he told her something that was different from what God told her.
And that’s exactly it! She could be held accountable simply for the fact that God said one thing and Eve chose another. It didn’t matter the reasons behind her choice, the ignorance, the naiveté, the bad influence. What mattered is that God said one thing . . . and she chose not to listen. She willing entertained the serpent who was slowly turning God’s firm, black-and-white “no” into shades of gray.
Isn’t that what gets us, too? We know what God says about something and yet we find ways to justify the other side, to make it less black-and-white. Just look at our society and the mish-mosh of luke-warm, milk-toast values and morals we have, even among Christians. We have made almost everything gray, including basic things like the way of salvation, God’s design for marriage, and the value of life. Because we keep listening to the voices that say, “But what about . . . Did God really say . . . Surely, it’s not the way God said it is?” God help us all! God help us all! What a soul-killing mess we have made of the world!
But God is merciful and He hasn’t plunged us into a world of gray. He has set clear boundaries. Not to be a kill-joy, but to protect us and help us make solid decisions that are in line with what He wants. He has given us His Word and His Spirit, our main guides for this life. But how many of us treat the Word like it’s just another good book? And how many of us quench the Spirit by our sinful choices and our lack of effort to abide in Him? And when we lose the value of Scripture and the absolute need to be in God’s Word and in prayer daily, we begin to entertain the voices, the objections and the rationalizations. And we lose the black-and-white, the safe firmness of God’s “No. Do not touch!”
I used to wonder why God didn’t explain to Adam and Eve why they shouldn’t touch the tree. (At least it’s not recorded in the Bible.) Surely, if He had clearly explained what would happen, they would have been much less likely to eat it. But He didn’t explain His reasons. He simply said “Don’t.” This doesn’t sound too unclear to me. Don’t means don’t. But, like Eve, we have to choose daily to listen to and obey God, even when we don’t know His reasons and even when other voices make the alternative sound so much more desirable and reasonable.
I think the only way to be able to do this is to get to the point where we know in the depths of our being that God is really a good God that loves us immensely. Only then can we really trust Him no matter what He asks us to do or what He does in our lives. (And I am not saying this is easy to do, but it’s so important. And getting to that point is a whole long process in itself. I try to help others do this in Through the Furnace: Your Sweetly Broken Journey on this blog.)
Eve began to doubt God’s goodness, feeling as though God was withholding something good from her. “He must not really want the best for me or want me to be like Him. He is keeping me from my potential, from rising to the top, from fun, etc.” And so instead of seeing God as a good, loving Father who can be trusted even when He says “Don’t,” she began to listen to Satan’s lies and to see God as someone just trying to keep her down. And this made it so much easier to sin.
When we face confusing times and hard trials, when God calls us to do something we don’t understand or asks us not to do something, we need to remember that God is a good, loving Father. And He says what He does and does what He wills because He loves us and wants the best for us and for His glory. If we can remember this, we can firmly say, “Because God said it, I will obey. Even if I don’t understand.”