Opening illustration: G. Campbell Morgan had already enjoyed some success as a preacher by the time he was 19 years old. But then he was attacked by doubts about the Bible. The writings of various scientists and agnostics disturbed him (e.g., Charles Darwin, John Tyndall, Thomas Huxley, and Herbert Spencer). As he read their books and listened to debates, Morgan became more and more perplexed. What did he do? He cancelled all preaching engagements, put all the books in a cupboard and locked the door, and went to the bookstore and bought a new Bible. He said to himself, "I am no longer sure that this is what my father claims it to be - the Word of God. But of this I am sure. If it be the Word of God, and if I come to it with an unprejudiced and open mind, it will bring assurance to my soul of itself." The result? "That Bible found me!" said Morgan. The new assurance in 1883 gave him the motivation for his preaching and teaching ministry. He devoted himself to the study and preaching of God’s Word.
Let us turn to Genesis 3 and refresh our understanding of the Biblical narrative we find in what really happens when we start doubting God …
Introduction: Genesis 1 tells us that when God finished with creation, he declared it “very good.” On that day there was no crime, no poverty, no sickness, and no death. There were no broken homes, no latchkey children, no abusive husbands, no drug pushers, no murderers, and no child molesters. What God created was pure, perfect, and pristine in its beauty. The whole earth was a place of peace and tranquility. In short, the world as it came from the hand of God was paradise.
Obviously something has gone wrong with that same world because all those things that were not there then are found in abundance today. Now the roses have thorns and we have made bombs powerful enough to kill 10 or 20 million people at a time. What happened to the paradise God created? The Bible answers that question with the little word sin. Sin has happened to the world and nothing has been right or worked ever since.
The serpent’s first move is brilliant. In essence, he challenges Eve to a game of Bible Trivia. What happens next is a three-part conversation in which the serpent speaks, Eve responds, and the serpent speaks again. The whole exchange could have been over in less than a minute and she was caught in his trap!
This all led to Satan planting the seed of doubt in Eve’s heart and she was gullible to his deceptive language that she bought into it very easily. Our focus this morning is … are we also deceived so easily by Satan that we start doubting our own Creator? Just as Eve started doubting God and fell into depravity … this morning we are going to explore …
What happens when we start doubting God?
1. Focus shifts from God to You [I, ME, MY] (v. 1)
Satan catches us when we are lonely, alone or at our weakest. He likes to just talk about you and how you feel. He loves to please your deepest fleshly desire and compensate for all your hurts – SELF-PITY. Makes you feel like you are God … on top of the world. He loves to talk what your ears and your flesh is dying to hear … it is all about you. He wanted to take the place of God and now he desires that you will follow his own footsteps … Eve so easily fell prey to his antics and many of us sitting here this morning take the bait too.
Satan gives people what they want so that they will eventually get what he wants them to have and he never shows us the consequences of sin. In fact God gives us up to our own desires. We have to discover on our own, when it is too late to do anything about it. The serpent repeated the lie that now rules the word – Man can be like God. This was the original sin, and it is at the heart of every bad choice you’ve ever made. The first rule of the spiritual life goes like this: He’s God and we are not. Everything Satan does is intended to make us forget that fundamental reality. But when we do, we repeat the same mistake Adam and Eve made so long ago. Every mistake you’ve made has come because you forgot who’s God and who’s not. That’s why the central question of life boils down to this: Who’s going to be God today?
1 Timothy 2: 14 draws an important conclusion from this verse: “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” Eve was tricked by the devil. Perhaps he came to her because he knew he could appeal to her emotions. Satan made her feel like a goddess for which she had been craving so hard … obviously who would not like to be a god or goddess. Lucifer alias Satan wanted to be like one too and put his life on the line for it. The Word of God tells us … but Adam was not deceived. He had heard the original command from God and he knew it was wrong to eat the fruit. He wasn’t tricked at all.
So why did Eve get into trouble? First, she didn’t know the truth of the Word of God. Second, she shouldn’t have been discussing God’s Word with the serpent in the first place. Third, she should have asked Adam to help her in this situation instead of going it alone. Those who think they are an equal match for the devil will soon find out they were sadly mistaken.
2. Badmouthing God (vs. 2-3) ‘No – fear of God’
You exactly know and understand when two people gossip about the third person - especially when badmouthing occurs. Satan was already wounded and wanted to build an army to hit back at God … what a wonderful opportunity he has with getting Eve on the same page …
The underlying expressions in the Hebrew are profound. Very much like Satan telling Eve … Really! Is that what God told you or Adam … apparently He did not tell you so it just doesn’t apply to you but to Adam … so you are safe to go with it. That is how Satan is tricking today’s generation … oh these instructions are not really for you but were for your forefathers. You are ok without them. The other expression is so profound in Eve’s reiteration of what God told Adam … seemingly that she had that huh in the background and seemed mad and frustrated with God for giving them a list of Dos and Don’ts in the garden of Eden. You can just feel it in the air the exasperation Eve displays towards God’s instructions. How many of us have that huh while reading and applying God’s Word in our lives. That just shows our heart and how we can silently badmouth God but others get the hint of the true picture.
When we have some resentment toward God, better not display in public, someone might take undue advantage of it just as Satan did with Eve. Go to God with it and He will surely deal with you fairly. You have doubts about God … go to Him, He is a God who will never fail you and give you clarity. If we still do not have clarity, it just shows that we are not surrounded by the right kind of people and in the right environment … for the Word of God tells us that where the Spirit of God is … there is no confusion. If you are confused, it just shows where you are and where you stand! Just stop badmouthing God and get straight with Him. He is a God who not only forgives us but even forgets all our iniquities.
Illustration: Bill Hybels tells about an interesting experience after a baptism service in their church. He writes: “I bumped into a woman in the stairwell who was crying. I thought this was a little odd, since the service was so joyful. I asked her if she was all right. She said, ‘No, I’m struggling.’ She said, ‘My mom was baptized today. I prayed for her every day for almost 20 years. The reason I’m crying is because I came this close to giving up on her. At the 5-year mark I said, “Who needs this? God isn’t listening.” At the 10-year mark I said, “Why am I wasting my breath?” At the 15-year mark I said, “This is absurd.” At the 19-year mark I said, “I’m just a fool.” But I just kept trying, kept praying. Even with weak faith I kept praying. I even badmouthed God in my heart … But then after 20 years my mom gave her life to Christ, and she was baptized today. I will never doubt the power of prayer again.”
Sometimes when we pray and pray we feel like we are experiencing the law of diminished returns — so we stop praying. We correspondingly diminish our desires and dreams. We stop believing that God cares and that he will act — that he is indeed a God who wants us to ask. I hope that you will trust God’s love and concern for you, and his ability as well. I hope that you will continue to be persistent in prayer, no matter how discouraging the circumstances seem.
3. Believe that God has an evil hidden agenda (vs. 4-5)
At this point the serpent openly denies what God has said. In the Hebrew the expression is very strong. Literally it reads, “Not, you shall surely die.” The serpent took the very phrase God used and put the word “not” in front of it. Which means, by the way, that in this instance the devil knew the Word of God better than Eve did. That’s why you’d better know your Bible before you start arguing with Satan. He’s not only smarter than you, he knows God’s Word through and through, much better than all of us put together. He just doesn’t believe nor has faith in it. How many people do you know sailing in the same boat?
Then the serpent questions God’s goodness. He implies that God is holding back something from Eve that would make her happy. “You will be like God.” What an incentive that is. Why not? Who wouldn’t want to “be like God?” The serpent’s words were designed to cause Eve to feel deprived and cheated by God just as he himself felt. Just as Satan felt cheated by God, he passed on the same spirit onto Eve and now she is just swimming wild in making feel like being cheated.
This is a blasphemous thought … But why can’t God be evil or have an evil side? Why do people need to believe that he is perfect and flawless and all good, all righteous, all just, all loving, etc. just because religion says so?
It just doesn’t make sense given our imperfect world that is cold and cruel. In a world where evil rules, where 75 percent of the world lives in poverty and suffering, where terrible things happen to good people, where animals have to kill and eat other animals to survive, wouldn’t it make more sense for God/the Creator/the programmer of our matrix to be evil, sadistic, or revel in chaos? I mean if you can accept that, wouldn’t the world make a lot more sense?
Humans have an evil side with harmful destructive qualities. They are imperfect with flaws and negative traits. So why can’t God be the same way? Obviously aren’t we made in the image of God? The Old Testament describes God as a "jealous God" with regrets and anger. So why do we need to make him out to be perfect and flawless? Why can’t he be flawed? Why do people need to believe that he is completely perfect? But this is what was going on with Eve after Satan planted the seed of doubt in her heart. How much we can associate ourselves and even see how much of the world has become like this … Satan has been building his army pretty well.
Illustration: What happens when you realize that you were so loving, kindhearted and doing things with a pure heart and the person or the people that you did for apparently had an hidden evil agenda … it will break your heart. I have had these experiences many a times and had one recently too. In this passage we see that God did not have a hidden evil agenda … he warned us of the danger if we disobeyed His instruction … sometimes our children feel that about us too. The one who really has a hidden evil agenda was Satan himself … He wanted to turn God’s own creation – Man against Him and build an army for himself which will try to turn the tables on God. Eve was so naive that she never saw it coming and even tried to justify her own actions when God questioned her.
4. Pollute other peoples mind and fall into depravity (v. 6)
Now the downward spiral has started. First, Eve listened when she shouldn’t have listened. She talked when she shouldn’t have talked. She thought about what the devil said when she should have ignored it. Now she is about to fall right into his trap.
Her response reveals how clever the devil is. He’s got her on three different levels.
The Practical Level - The fruit was good to eat. That’s the lust of the flesh.
The Emotional Level - It looked beautiful to her. That’s the lust of the eyes.
The Spiritual Level - It would make her wise. That’s the pride of life.
The devil has now got her hook, line and sinker. She’s already a goner and she doesn’t even know it. And I’m sure the fruit did look good. She probably took it in her hands, felt it, and even enjoyed the pleasant fragrance. But please remember this: When you start fondling Forbidden Fruit, you’re already in the pit. You’ve committed the sin in your heart long before you take that first bite. If you don’t want to get trapped, don’t stop to inspect the fruit. Don’t spend time thinking about how nice it would be, how good it would feel, or how much you deserve it.
The downward spiral is almost complete.
• First, you talk with the devil.
• Second, you believe the devil.
• Third, you obey the devil.
• And fourth, you are conquered by the devil.
Truly, there is nothing new under the sun. What the serpent did to Eve, he still does today because the strategy still works wonderfully.
Eve’s imagination and feelings were completely won; and the fall of Eve was soon followed by that of Adam as he came in the loop. When we do something wrong, often we try to relieve our guilt by involving someone else. The history of every temptation, and of every sin, is the same; the outward object of attraction, the inward commotion of mind, the increase and triumph of passionate desire; ending in the degradation, slavery, depravity and ruin of the soul.
Illustration: Ted Turner, Most of you have heard of Ted Turner. He is the founder of CNN, TNT, TBS, etc. He is a very successful businessman, a billionaire and a well-known critic of Christianity. In fact he has publicly stated, "Christianity is for losers."
What is not so well known is how Mr. Turner became so anti-Christian? According to numerous newspaper articles as a teenager, Mr. Turner aspired to become a missionary but lost his faith when his younger sister, Mary Jane, contracted an immune system disease that eventually killed her. "I was taught that God was love and God was powerful and I couldn’t understand how someone so innocent should be made or allowed to suffer so".
When we teach only one thing about God and do not clearly articulate all His characters, people develop a lopsided view of God and then we face the consequences of what Eve and Ted Turner is doing today.
Application: Have you been doubting God for any reason? You saw the results and consequences of doubting God. We can so easily get sucked into focusing on ourselves; badmouthing God and having no fear of Him; make believe that God has a hidden evil agenda for us which is completely false and start polluting the minds of others thus bringing depravity not only on ourselves but all those around us.
Can we trust God blindly with our life, knowing that He is not only our Creator but also knows the best for each one of us?