That is the kind of attitude I picture Adam and Eve having. After all, they were living in Eden, the place of ultimate pleasure; Utopia for those of you who aren’t quite convinced about this God thing.
Anyway, there was an enemy in the Garden. Unfortunately, he was undetected until it was too late.
God had given His kids a clue when He told them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 ESV) The phrase, “have dominion”, was the clue. It means. “to subjugate, to bring under control, to subdue.” If there’s no enemy, there’s nothing to subdue.
But there was an enemy. An enemy of God; an enemy of man.
I’ll admit, there are some things I can’t explain about those Garden Days of Adam and Eve. Like people actually conversing with a serpent! I mean, I’ve yet to meet a snake I’d like to get to know. But snakes, excuse me, serpents, were different in the Garden. For one thing, they used to have legs, or else they moved about by hopping on their tail. Why do I say that? Because of this: “The Lord God said to the serpent,“Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:14 ESV)
I’ve heard people say the serpent could talk because it was possessed by the devil at the time. Could be true. Or, God created them with the ability to talk. I don’t know. Regardless, there was an enemy in the Garden and God’s kids didn’t know it.
So day after day Adam and Eve, while tending the Garden, would walk by the tree, comment to each other about its beauty, and wave to the serpent (who just happened to be in the area). I can picture the serpent waving back, fruit in hand, giving them one of his special, “you can trust me” smiles.
Imagine with me, the First Couple, walking and having a conversation something like this:
“Eve, I really like that serpent. Just a nice, friendly creature. Always has a smile for us.”
“And he’s such a beautiful creature. All those colors, muscles; so graceful when he walks.”
“Yeah, and the way he carries himself makes me wonder if he’d be the one to put in charge when we take a vacation. Such confidence and pride.”
“Maybe we should stop and visit with him”, Eve said. “Maybe ask him over for supper. You know, Adam, I’d really like to ask him about that tree he’s always leaning up against. Are you sure that’s the tree Father told you about?”
“The very one.”
“Looks harmless to me…”
“Yeah, me too”, replied Adam. “Me, too.”
“Let’s go back and visit.”
Adam smiled at his wife and said, “Honey, I was about to suggest that very thing. Let’s go!” And away they went, back to the tree they had just passed; back to their new “friend.”
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ’You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. ’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. ” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened (Genesis 3:1-7 ESV)
You see, I believe the serpent could use his “craftiness” against Adam and Eve because their guard was down. They had entertained the idea of being friends with the serpent before he enticed them to eat. Why do I believe that? Because we’re the same way a lot of times.
We’ve heard at least once, that as Christians, we have an enemy who only wants to steal, kill, and destroy. We’ve heard the enemy is the devil. So, keeping a vigilant eye, we watch for any signs of the devil. But we don’t see any ugly red mess with a tail, horns, and a pitchfork, so we let down our guard just a wee bit.
Now he may not camouflage himself as a serpent these days, but he may show up dressed in a very popular ideology, or anything that seems harmless, is appealing to the five senses, yet carries the sting of death. Those who’ve accepted his friendship before they really knew who was masquerading as a good guy, will have a much harder time resisting his wonderful smile.
See, these five things can get us into a world of hurt!
1. Familiarity with the serpent
2. Visiting the tree regularly
3. Putting ourselves in compromising situations.
4. Defenses weaken when enemies are viewed as friends
5. Repeatedly viewing and visiting with your enemy can give him an opportunity to violate you
Adam and Eve had what they needed in God to recognize the enemy AND subdue him, running him out of the Garden. You see, Adam was supposed to have access to the Garden, the serpent was not.
So the undetected enemy became the master of the Garden; Adam was no longer in charge. And it would be some time before the second Adam, Jesus, would come and break the serpent’s hold and buy back Adam’s lease.
But He did, hallelujah, He did!
But there’s still that enemy who likes to hang around with people who don’t recognize him. He wants to entice us to live our lives apart from God’s ways, and distanced from God’s Presence. But, like Adam, God has given us “clues” regarding our enemy:
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT)
“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NLT)
Remember, friend, God tells us there’s an enemy in our world. He tells us to not become chummy with it, but to keep our distance. He’ll help us know what to do and say, as well as how to recognize the enemy.
One final word. God’s friend is our friend and God’s enemy is our enemy. So know your enemy just well enough to identify him and defeat him.
God will help you.
Questions for comments: have you ever witnessed the enemy wearing a special costume, attempting to lure you into trouble? What was the costume? How did it affect you?