I’m reading an old book by Dr. Ed Murphy called The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare. I’m only 37 pages into it and while there are some things he says that have me raising an eyebrow, there is a section I read the other night I have to share because I think he does a really good job of explaining things here. Let’s see if you agree.
Three Lessons from Genesis 3
I (Dr. Murphy) consider Genesis 3 to be the most important passage on spiritual warfare in the entire Old Testament. We will deal with it in detail later. Three of the many lessons to be learned from this story contribute to the discussion at this point.
1. Humanity was led into rebellion against the rule of God by an already existing evil, supernatural being. in the symbolism of the story, that evil supernatural being is revealed as the serpent, an animal, part of God’s good creation. Whether or not the physical animal we know today as the serpent is the creature revealed here is entirely beside the point. The main point of the story is that mankind was deceived into an act of disobedience to God by an already existing wise, but evil, being.
He reveals his evil wisdom by disguising himself so that the woman is unaware of his evil. She believes she is in conversation with a familiar creature, part of God’s good creation. Then he leads Eve into a discussion about God and the limitations He has placed on her and Adam in the Garden. Until now she has only seen the positive side of her Edenic state. Satan awakens within her mind the realization of the negative side, what she and Adam cannot do in the garden. The deception was directed against her mind which, by definition, also includes her emotions and will.
2. He outwits the sinless but inexperienced woman. Carefully he chooses his words to cause her to think his thoughts after him. This subtle transformation confuses her mind and distorts her view of reality. She fails to reject the lies now planted within her mind. She accepts the lies and half-truths she is hearing as the real truth.
3. Being a former sinless creature himself, the serpent (Satan) is aware when her thinking has become distorted. He knows when she is ready to receive in her mind a direct denial of God’s Word and a total misrepresentation of God’s purposes: “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vv.4-5). That was all that was needed. The deception is complete. Eve’s mind embraces Satan’s thoughts. She now sees the forbidden tree from an entirely new and wrong perspective. Satan has awakened within her emotions she had never known before. She sees, she delights, she desires, and she takes the fruit of her deceptions.
Sin is born. As is sin’s nature, it never remains by itself. It always seeks company. Eve immediately shares her new-found pleasures with her husband, Adam. Evidently there is not as yet any visible, negative evidence of sin’s consequences in her appearance. Adam exercises his free will and eats the forbidden fruit, disobeying the Word of God. The goal of Satan’s deception is now realized. The head over God’s new creation falls.
Consequences of the First Early Deception
One major consequence is the defilement of all of God’s new creation. Satan’s delight is at its zenith. He has not only deceived God’s angelic creation (fallen angels), but he has also succeeded in defiling God’s earthly creation.
Second, the cosmic rebellion has now become a cosmic-earthly rebellion. Mankind has joined the fallen angels in rejecting the revealed will of God. History, both cosmic and earthly, will never be the same.
Third, humanity not only participates in the conflict between the two kingdoms but also becomes the central person around whom the conflict revolves. Thus humanity both by nature and by choice belong to Satan’s kingdom (Luke 4:5-6; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Acts 26:18; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:13). God, however, out of sovereign love, mercy, compassion, and grace (Eph. 2:4-9; cf. 1:13-14), has acted to provide full redemption for all humanity (John 3:16; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; 1 John 2:1-2).
God’s enemy having deceived the human race into following his deception into independence from the will of God, now becomes man’s mortal enemy. Through his demonic hosts he resists God’s progam of redemption for humanity. Satan does not want people to hear or obey the gospel of God’s love. He does all within his evil power to resist the spread of the gospel to the nations (Matt. 13:19, 25-30; Acts 5, 8, 13, 19; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; 11: 3-4; 13-15; 1 Thess. 2:1; 3:5; Rev. 2-3; 12:1-13:7).
The battle centers on humanity. Satan deceived and enslaved the whole race; God potentially has redeemed it (2 Cor. 5:18-19; 1 John 2:1-2). All that is lacking is people’s response to God’s redeeming love. To stop them from responding is Satan’s goal, which he seeks to accomplish through continued deception.
In this context of sin and deception the gospel is preached. The Spirit of God convicts people of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:18). The enemy fights back to hold them in continual bondage (Matt. 13:19; 2 Cor. 4:3-4). Thus again, in this sense humanity not only participates in the conflict between the two kingdoms (heavenly and earthly), but is the central being around which the conflict revolves. Building around humanity’s sinful flesh energized by this evil world, Satan assaults the human mind with continual lies. People, thus being deceived, in turn become deceivers (2 Tim. 3:13). They spread Satan’s lies on a worldwide scale as they unwittingly assume the nature of their deadly enemy.