Summary: The tempter’s tricks and how to arm ourselves, man’s mistakes and how to avoid them, God’s grace and how to receive it
Talk- The Fall (Genesis 3)
“We don’t need lists of rights and wrongs, tables of do’s and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. ’Thou shalt not’ is soon forgotten, but ’Once upon a time’ lasts forever…The Christian church says that the action of Eve in the story of Genesis…she ate the fruit, and discovered that she new the difference between good and evil and the first thing they did was to be embarrassed, they realised there was sexuality in the world, so they covered themselves up, so the myth goes…I think it would be more sensible to regard Eve as a great heroine and indeed as the first scientist. She said, “What will happen if…?” The first experiment ever was to taste the fruit and see what would happen. She’s a great heroine, she’s a great courageous model of curiosity and interest in the world. She wanted to know more” (Philip Pullman).
My three points are…
1. The tempter’s tricks and how to arm ourselves
2 Corinthians 2:11- “…that Satan might not outwit us, for we are not unaware of his schemes.”
• Distance man from God (YAHWEH-ELOHIM >> ELOHIM)- “Did God…?”(1).
• Doubt God’s words, and encourage us to the do same- “Has God indeed said…?” (1).
• Deliberately exaggerate restrictions God has placed on us- any tree (1). 1 John 5:3- “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.”
Challenge: name one of God’s commandments which is actually harmful; name one that isn’t a distinct blessing.
• Deny God’s word, especially to give false assurances- “You will not surely die” (4).
One thing people don’t believe- that they’re going to die- Michael Jackson’s coffin
• Debase God’s good character- “God knows that…” (5). The serpent presents “divine love as envy, service as servility, and a suicidal plunge as a leap into life” (Kidner).
Most people’s arguments against Christianity start off as a moral complaint against God, which- as He is the source and definition of good and moral- is nonsensical, but our minds have been twisted by the serpent ever since this moment. Pullman’s God is withdrawn and decrepit, a figure of pity and ridicule, rather than an awesome creator. How God who made the universe could be anything but mind-bogglingly powerful and equally lovely is beyond me!
• Delude us with grandeur. The ambition in the creature, Adam, to topple his Creator and take the throne. There is another Adam in the Bible…
Contrast the 2nd Adam: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Philippians 2:6).
Even Pullman admits that there is an “urge to totalitarian control which seems to grip the human race”, despite his foolish support of Eve’s very urge for control.
• Deploy half truths- 5 cf. 22. True, we would have our eyes opened, be like God and know good and evil, but it’s like this…
Doctor, sick man, well man (Kidner)
“As usual, the tempter kept the promise to the ear. Eve knew good and evil, but only by feeling evil within herself. It was by moral degradation, and not by intellectual insight, that her ambitious wish was fulfilled” (Payne Smith).