The Aim of the Serpent

In my undergraduate study of the book of Genesis, as a final project I had to study six thematic principles in Gen. 3:1-7. This is the third study:

            “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast…” (Gen. 2:25-3:1).

It is amazing what can get lost in translation. You ever play the “chubby bunny” game? It’s that ridiculous youth-group game where you shove as many marshmallows into your mouth as humanly possible, then try and convey a message to the person next to you. You can try as hard as possible to say “Roger Rabbit really races regularly” but all that comes out of your mouth is “Ruhgwuh ruaubgt weeewy wawsez rughuuauee” I think it has banned in most youth groups for being a  choking hazard, and leading middle-schoolers to consume terrifying amounts of sugar. The point is that whenever communication isn’t as clear as it was originally, meanings get lost. Luckily, as we read our Bibles we don’t have as serious of a interpretation impediment as a game of “chubby bunny”, but there still can be times where some precision can be lost. 

For example, in Gen. 2:25 the author of Genesis points out that Adam and Eve are both “naked” (םעֲרוּמִּי, ’arummim) and are both “not ashamed”. The term ‘arummim means more than just an absence of clothing, but connotes a sense of vulnerability, integrity and openness deeper than just physical nudity; it speaks to the intimacy of Adam and Eve’s relationship with one another, physically, emotionally and spiritually. After sin, however, the term takes on a purely negative connotation and is seen as exploitation, shame and exposure (Gen. 3:10-11, 9:20-22). Sin takes God’s good design for intimacy and spoils it.

Now, in Gen. 3:1 the author seems to be emphasizing something by pointing out that the serpent is “more crafty” (םעָרוּ, ‘arum) than any other beast. The author is making a play on words between “naked” (arummim) and “crafty” (arum). Why would the author of Genesis do that? Of all the Hebrew words to describe the motives and skills of the serpent, why choose that one? Perhaps it is to draw attention to the very aim of the serpent’s craftiness. The serpent knows exactly what he is doing; he is here to destroy not just the shalom of the Garden, but the shalom of the first marriage. Satan’s eyes are set on taking the good, open intimacy of the Adam and Eve’s marriage, and turn it into something that they will be ashamed of. Once where there was openness and freedom in their sexual union, there will be shame. Once where there was a unity of heart in spiritual connection with God, there will now be guilt and isolation. Once where there was vulnerability emotionally, there will be coldness and suspicion. This is Satan’s aim.

And, sadly, we see this play out almost exactly to Satan’s plan. As soon as Adam and Eve disobey God, they hide from one another, and try to hide from God (Gen. 3:7,10-11), they quickly blame each other (3:12) and God pronounces a curse over their relationship (Gen. 3:16). But notice, I say “almost”; there was something he didn’t anticipate. When God turns to curse the serpent for deceiving them, He embeds it with a promise, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). God makes a promise that Adam and Eve’s sin will not totally separate them from one another, because He promises that they will produce offspring; there will be reconciliation. And even more than that, one of those descendants, thousands of years later on bloody cross crushed the crafty schemes of the serpent (Col. 2:15). Satan’s aim is always set on ruining the peace and harmony of God’s design for creation, but he seems especially intent on ruining the unique way that marriage reflects God. Praise God for sending His Son, the fulfillment of Gen. 3:15 to destroy the works of the Serpent and to give us the perfect display of marital love (Eph. 5:25).

Let us be weary of falling back into the Serpent’s schemes in our marriages – he is always wanting to destroy them, so let’s keep that in mind as walk through the day to day frustrations of marriage. Satan, like a bacteria desperately searching for a healthy host, is constantly attempting to pry into marriages and infect them (Eph 4:26). It can sometimes be tempting to lose sight of the enemy’s resistance in our marriages, and just think that the problem lies in the spouse. Satan wants to play upon our fleshly nature, stirring us to resentment, unforgiveness, dishonesty, adultery, coldness, distance and isolation. I am not saying that Satan is forcing us to be bad spouses – we are plenty sinful enough to ruin our marriages without Satan’s help – but he will corroborate with our sinful hearts, fill us with guilt, doubt and shame. Resist him! The best way I have seen this play out in my own marriage is by doing a few things:

  1. Forgive Quickly
  2. Confess Quickly
  3. Repent Quickly
  4. Pray Together Daily
  5. Read the Word Together Daily
  6. Communicate Openly
  7. Connect Emotionally
  8. Expect Sin to Happen
  9. Help Each Other see Christ as Supremely Satisfying
  10. Connect With Community

This isn’t a perfect list, but is helpful and a good start to step back towards the “naked and unashamed” of the Garden. Satan hates a happy marriage so much because it displays Jesus so profoundly (Eph. 5:25), so married people: expect resistance. 

Other posts in this series:

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