Summary: The power and penalty of sin is clear in Scripture adn we need to understand the devastation of the fall to truly glory in the cross.
He’s a talking serpent, which might seem strange and has for many people reinforced their belief that Genesis 1-3 is mythological. But why not – a donkey talked in Numbers to suit God’s purposes. Satan is hardly an ordinary garden-variety snake, anyway.
He’s more crafty that all the other animals, and this description deserves some pause. Strangely enough, 3:1 comes straight after the end of chapter 2, which says “the man and his wife were both naked and they felt no shame”. There’s no chapter breaks in the original, remember – this just follows on from there. In Hebrew the words translated “naked” and “crafty” rhyme and that establishes a link. So, it’s like the people are nude and the serpent is shrewd and what we then see is that the shrewd – representing sin and rebellion - overcomes the nude – representing purity and innocence.
So Satan tempts Eve. As you know, they’ve been given one rule. Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And the consequences are clear – death.
The serpent then goes about using all sorts of lies and half-truths to convince Eve to sin. You won’t surely die, he says – and they don’t, at least not straight away. If you eat it, you’ll become like God, knowing good and evil. That was true, and humanity’s lust for power blinded Adam and Eve to the fact that becoming like God was a terrible thing for they had neither the wisdom nor the holiness nor the power to exercise this knowledge – it would only lead them to selfishness and pain.
So Eve takes the fruit and eats it. She gives some to Adam – and the context suggests he knew where the fruit had come from – and he eats it too. Then the world comes crashing down and millennia of war and grief and sickness and death are set in motion.
When one of my students does something bad and gets caught, there’s a number of different reactions that you can see. It depends on the student, on the teacher, and on what they’ve done. Perhaps the most popular of all is the blaming of others. He started it. She called me that first. Somebody else was talking as well, why are you picking on me? She gave me the cigarette. If God didn’t want us to swear, why did he invent the words? The woman you put here with me, she gave me the fruit and I ate it!
The man blames the woman and God, the woman blames the snake. It’s typical of human behaviour. There’s no acceptance of responsibility.
In this cycle of blame we can see that a big part of the sin in the first place was the reversal of the created order. The man was created to lead his wife in marriage, and both were created to rule over the serpent. And yet the serpent instructs the woman and the woman instructs the man – it’s the other way around.