Summary: A look at the tempter’s tactics from Genesis 3:1-6
Genesis 3:1-6 [READ]
Introduction: Iron Eyes Cody was the Native American who appeared in the old “Keep America Beautiful” TV commercials. He told an Indian legend from many years ago. Indian youths would go away in solitude to prepare for manhood. One such youth hiked into a beautiful valley, green with trees & bright with flowers. There he looked up at the surrounding mountains, and noticed one tall rugged peak, capped with dazzling white snow. “I will test myself against that mountain,” he thought. He put on his buffalo-hide shirt, threw his blanket over his shoulders and set off to climb the peak. When he reached the top he stood on the rim of the world. He could see forever, and his heart swelled with pride. Then he heard a rustle at his feet, and looking down, saw a snake. Before he could move, the snake spoke. “I am about to die,” said the snake. “It is too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food, and I am starving. Please, put me under your shirt and take me down into the valley.” “No,” said the youth. “I am forewarned. I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. If I pick you up, you will bite, and your bite will kill me.” “Not so,” said the snake. “I will treat you differently. If you do this for me, you will be special. I will not harm you.” The youth resisted for awhile, but this was a very persuasive snake, with beautiful markings. At last the youth took pity on the reptile, picked it up, tucked it under his shirt, and carried it down into the valley. There he laid it gently on the grass, when suddenly the snake coiled, rattled, and struck—biting him on the leg. “But you promised!” cried the youth. “You knew what I was when you picked me up” said the snake as he slithered away.
>>What would you do if you were out minding your own business, and a snake spoke to you? Most people hate snakes. 51% of Americans admit to fearing them. They don’t even like to get near them, much less chat with one. If I encountered a snake that spoke to me, I think my reaction would be to hand someone my car keys and ask them to drive me home. But if one spoke to you, what would you do? That’s assuming that you’d recognize it as a snake, as something to be avoided or resisted. Snakes come in many forms. Out in the jungle, you’re on the lookout for snakes, but not so much in more familiar environs—like your church, your family, or your TV. Many people welcome snakes into their lives, listen to them, take their advice, and pay for having done so:
Ex: The harried executive just has a few drinks at night to relax and unwind from his stress-filled days. At least, that’s how it starts. Then there are a few more drinks, a little earlier in the day. Then there is the chronic addiction called alcoholism that begins choking out his relationships, his career, even his life.
Ex: The attractive young wife is neglected by her husband and begins to dabble with little “innocent” flirtations. Then one gets out of hand, explodes into a full-blown affair, and becomes adultery that takes her marriage by the throat to kill it.
Ex: The accountant is in a bind and uses a few dollars that don’t belong to him. The intent is to replace the money in just a few days—what’s the harm? No one will ever know. But the “few” become a “few more” and become embezzlement.
Many aspects of this famous passage are mysterious and intriguing: we aren’t told how the snake is able to speak, for example, nor the reasons for its malevolent agenda. What the author wants us to see is that Eve talks to this serpent, and as a result succumbs to temptation. A temptation isn’t really a temptation if you don’t talk with it. Snakes that we’ve always avoided when we’ve seen them coming don’t really tempt us—it’s the ones we’ll talk to, that engage us in conversation, that can poison or constrict us if we accept what they say. So the question for us is how to avoid getting snakebitten—how can we as God’s people successfully resist temptation? This passage provides us with a temptation test case. We can’t blame Eve’s actions on her environment, and certainly not on her heredity! We see in this story the clear working of temptation, and so can learn how better to resist the snake when it speaks to us. In II Corinthians 11:3 Paul expresses his concern to the Corinthian Christ followers: “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” By examining the snake’s tactics, we might learn something about resisting temptation. So here’s how those snakes like to operate: