The Tactics 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 fourth study:

Now the serpent…said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1)

Satan, in the form of a serpent, approaches an unsuspecting Eve in the garden, and asks her a simple question. No vicious attack, or blasphemous spewing of vulgarity, or slimy offer; just a simple question, “Hey Eve, can I ask you something?” The question seems so innocuous and normal that Eve has no clue that she is beginning a conversation with Satan, God’s enemy. It would do us well to realize that Satan rarely appears in the form of black voodoo magic, asking us if we will sacrifice our children in his name, but rather most often appears in a form that is plain and ordinary. 2 Cor. 11:14 explains that Satan often reveals himself, not with a red cape, curly goatee, and trident in hand, but rather as an “angel of light”. Satan can easily make himself look like a good guy.

So how then will we be able to recognize him and his “schemes” (Eph. 6:11)? How can we ensure that we won’t, like Eve, fall into his traps? The answer is to know his tactics: we watch out for the maligning of God’s Word. The simple question that Satan asks Eve is, “Did God really say…?” He opens with questioning the trustworthiness of God’s Word. Then he manipulates God’s commands, “Did God really say you can’t eat of any tree in the garden?” That isn’t what God said at all – God gave Adam and Eve the freedom to eat from any tree, freely (2:16) – they were restricted from eating only one tree. Satan is misquoting God, attempting to make Him look stingy and unreliable.

In Matthew 4, Satan again appears as the role of a tempter, but instead of being in a garden, this time it is in the wilderness; and rather than tempting someone who has the abundance of food, this person has not eaten for forty days. Satan is now attempting to lead the second Adam, Jesus Christ, into the same pit he ran the first Adam into. Three times Satan tempts Jesus to disobey God, and each time Jesus responds with “It is written…” quoting scripture. In Matt. 4:6 again we see Satan try and manipulate God’s word to fulfill his schemes; Satan attempts to quote scripture to Jesus, trying to provoke Him into sin. Christ, however, quickly rifles back with what Eve was lacking: a correct handling and trust in God’s Word.

Satan’s tactics may cycle through the ages, but they pivot on the same center: a maligning of God’s character as revealed in His word. He may do this through manipulating, misquoting, twisting or confusing us with the Bible, or by keeping us blind to it altogether (2 Cor. 4:4). Jesus explained that the only thing Satan ever does is speak lies; even when he quotes God’s word, he is doing so with a manipulating, malicious intent (John 8:44).

If we are to guard ourselves against the schemes of the serpent, we must sit under the authority of the scripture, letting it so permeate our mind and heart, that whenever we encounter a lie or half-truth, we can sniff-out the scent of Satan’s work. The Christian has one offensive weapon, and it is God’s Word (Eph. 6:17) – so let us use it well, and not be ignorant of the enemy’s tactics.

Helpful tips:

  • Read the Bible daily (A reading plan is very helpful for this)
  • Attend a church that preaches the fullness of God’s Word, every week
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Listen to music that is permeated with Biblical truth
  • Have friends that will remind you of God’s truth
  • Ask the Lord to reveal any falsehood in your heart that you are currently believing about God
  • Find good teachers to listen to regularly (This could be in the form of blogs, tweets, podcasts, or books)

Other posts in this series:

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