Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” Genesis 3:1-2 NIV
What was Eve focused on when Satan began to tempt her and lead her into sin? His question centered on what God said they couldn’t have, but her answer began with a declaration of all they were permitted to enjoy. I believe it’s safe to say that before the serpent approached her she was focused on, and content with, the trees God had given them to eat from. But he challenged her to think about that which God did not want her to focus on. That’s the way Satan operates. He attempts to take our eyes off of all that God has for us, and focus our attention on the one thing he believes he can most effectively use to destroy us.
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5 NIV
Once he succeeds in shifting our focus onto the one thing he can most effectively use to damage our relationship with God, he quickly provides for us a reason to desire it.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:6-8 NIV
Where is Eve’s attention now? She has given her full attention to the wrong tree and the wrong fruit. All that God had given her to enjoy in the garden has completely left her mind. She has now determined that she needs this fruit to be content. All she wants now is to taste its fruit and experience the wisdom she’s been told it will bring her. So she reaches out and grabs hold of it and eats it. Then her husband, who is standing beside her, does the same.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. James 1:13-16 NIV
As James clearly describes, Satan tempts us in the same way he tempted Eve in the garden. The progression from temptation to death has not changed over the years. Satan always wants to drag us away by diverting our attention away from God and creating desire in us for other things. He works hard to make us believe that all God has for us is simply not enough. He entices us to believe we are missing something, that God is intentionally keeping from us, something we need to be truly satisfied. Once desire is conceived in us, we focus on all the wrong things, and we foolishly take hold of the very tool that Satan has chosen to use against us. And if we don’t break free, sin grows fully within us and we eventually die.
Yet we have an incredible advantage over Adam and Eve, we have their story to warn us. We also have James admonition, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” And we have a whole host of other examples and warnings in the Bible. We even have the Spirit of God living within us to open our eyes to the evil schemes that Satan plots against us. Most importantly, we have a loving Savior who has come to redeem us from the broken relationship between mankind and God that occurred as a result of Adam and Eve’s decision that day.
Remember these things when Satan tries to divert your attention. Stay focused on God. Don’t let him create desire in you for anything that God has not personally given you. What was the lie that Eve bought in to? It’s the same lie Satan tries to sell us: God is keeping something from you that will benefit you. Do you believe God has given you everything you need to be completely content? He most certainly has! Don’t buy into the lies of your enemy!