Learn from the Past: Break the Cycle

You never know what you have until it’s gone. At the dawn of creation, mankind was given everything we could desire. Protection, peace, abundant food, companionship, love, a purpose, a life without hardship, and eternal life. They had openness, trust, and intimate relationship, both with each other and their creator. In essence they lived in Utopia, a state we continuously strive to return to. So how did discontentment enter their hearts? In the same way that it does today. If you feel that you are entitled to more, what you have no longer feels like enough. If we hope to avoid the mistakes of the past we must start by learning from them.

Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44), and lies are most convincingly told when they are wrapped in half-truths. He has used the same playbook since the first sin, because there is no reason to change. It’s that effective! So if we closely look at the first account of his success we will not be so easily fooled. As I mentioned Adam and Eve were well cared for and blessed by God. As the created, they were in submission to their creator and were expected to follow his commands. At this time he gave only one command, given to Adam for his protection.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Genesis 2:16-17

This is a reasonable command intended to protect him from harm, and he still had every other tree available for food. As humans do, we have difficulty passing on God’s actual commands. We have a tendency to want to embellish his commands by adding some of our own. When Adam relayed God’s instruction to Eve he changed it to be more restrictive. Because the serpent was crafty, he went first to Eve, the one who had not heard God’s command first-hand. God had spoken directly to Adam, and Adam passed the embellished command to Eve. So, the first step was to draw attention to command.

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 3:1-3

Not only was Adam’s embellishment of God’s word was unnecessary, but it helped the serpent to paint God as an oppressor. If we do not personally read the Bible we become like Eve. Not hearing God’s word first-hand, we rely on other human beings to tell us what God commands. But corruption comes in all forms. Religion may embellish God’s word with a desire to emphasize God’s point, but it can also make his laws sound like oppression rather than protection.

You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 

Genesis 3:4

In his response, the serpent is able to accomplish many deceptions. After Eve has recalled the restrictive command and its consequence, he raises doubt in her mind by questioning the premise she had known to be true. Next he brings into question God’s motivation, the beginning steps of distrust.

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:5

With God’s motives in question, he makes the implication that God’s law is a means of oppression so that he could maintain his superiority over them. Additionally, it pointed out the desirability of the forbidden item.

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, 

Genesis 3:6

Satan continues to tempt us in the same ways today. When we question God’s motives, it becomes easier for us to give in to our own selfish desires. We reject God’s commands because of our rebellious nature, and our desire to accept lies as truth. We want to believe the lie because it justifies our disobedience. These are the same ways that Satan tried to temp Jesus in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). First, is the promise of satisfying our personal hungers. Second, is the appeal to personal pride and the desire for recognition. Third, is the promise of power and equality with God. Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation because they forgot who God was and all of the blessings he had bestowed upon them.

she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 

Genesis 3:6

The serpent knew that if he could deceive the woman he would have the man as well. Adam was faced with a choice as well, obedience to God or obedience to his wife. His choice shows that Adam placed his desire for Eve above God. This is a choice we continue to face today. We live in a world that continually encourages us to ignore or disregard God’s word. If we value the opinions of other people more than God, we will fall. But Jesus succeed where all others have failed, by leaning on God’s word for strength and support through temptation. Jesus did not desire equality with God, rather he humbled himself, obedient even unto death (Phillipians 2:5-8).

Keep your eyes open! The next time Satan tries to arouse discontent in your heart, and cling to the word of God. In my next few posts I will be highlighting lessons from the past to help us learn how to break the cycle of discontent.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

James 4:7

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