Satan's attack on God's Word
His plan of attack in the Garden of Eden was based on subtlety. It was God’s intention that headship should be invested in Adam. Eve was created second, not first. She was not made for headship; her inmost center of rule was not her head but her heart. Adam, on the other hand, was made to rule; his inmost center of rule was his intellect. Satan twisted God’s order. He began the temptation with Eve, putting her in the place of headship, engaging her in an intellectual discussion concerning right and wrong. He thoroughly deceived her and plunged the race into ruin (1 Timothy 2:11–14; 1 Corinthians 11:3). So then, the temptation began with an appeal to Eve’s intellect.
Satan opened the discussion with a doubt—indeed, a threefold doubt—an attack upon the Word of God, Eve’s only defense. He challenged the authorship of God’s Word. “Yea,” he said, “hath God said?” “How do you know it is the Word of God? How do you know God said it? After all you weren’t even there when that Word was given.” It was a frontal attack upon the authorship of the Word of God. In her reply Eve misquoted God’s Word, showing a carelessness that must have greatly encouraged and emboldened her foe.
Having questioned the authorship of the Word of God, and hence its authority, the devil challenged its accuracy. “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” “How do you know that is an accurate rendering of what was originally said? How do you know something has not been lost in transmission?”
Then he questioned the acceptability of God’s Word, for the demands of God often conflict with our own desires. Satan directed Eve’s gaze to the forbidden tree. He made her see how good it was for food, how pleasant it was to the eyes, how much to be desired to make one wise. He persuaded her to act in independence of God, to be “mature,” to “do her own thing.” Many believers, sound in the faith on the question of the authorship and the accuracy of the Bible, will yet live in disobedience to God because some truth is unacceptable to them.
Satan, then, began with a doubt. Once the doubt was entertained he followed up with a denial. “Ye shall not surely die,” he said. It was a flat contradiction of what God had said. “Thou shalt surely die,” said God. “Thou shalt not surely die,” responded Satan. The whole temptation hinged on the matter of belief. Who would she believe, Satan or God? In salvation, God brings the soul back to that very point of departure and insists on belief as the great essential.
Satan followed up the doubt and the denial with a delusion. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil,” he said. The word “gods” is Elohim. Ye shall be as God Himself. He was putting into Eve’s mind the same daring thought that had once entered his own and that had transformed him from the anointed cherub to the devil. Eve believed eating of that forbidden fruit would open her eyes to all kinds of wisdom. She would be able to dazzle her husband with her newfound knowledge. She threw away innocence for conscience. It was a miserable bargain indeed.
John Phillips, Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ge 3:1b–5.
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