No. 20 The Great Deceiver
For it is not against human enemies that we have to struggle, but against the principalities and the ruling forces who are masters of the darkness in this world, the spirits of evil in the heavens. That is why you must take up all God’s armour, or you will not be able to put up any resistance on the evil day, or stand your ground even though you exert yourselves to the full (Ephesians 6: 12 – 13. New Jerusalem Bible).
Reflecting on Genesis
Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis give those to whom sin and the devil are real, and who only wish to please the Lord their God and do His will, valuable food for thought. The wiles of the Father of Lies are exposed in the account of the temptation of Eve and Adam, and road signs directing people to the seemingly attractive freeway to sin, unhappiness and disaster are identified. Forewarned could be forearmed.
In Genesis we see that ‘God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on that day he rested after all his work of creating. Such was the story of heaven and earth as they were created’ (Gen. 2: 3 – 4). ‘Yahweh God planted a garden in Eden… and there he put the man he had fashioned.’ (Gen: 2:7)
From the soil, Yahweh God caused to grow every kind of tree, enticing to look at and good to eat, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Gen. 2:9)
Then Yahweh God gave the man this command, ‘You are free to eat of all the trees in the garden. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you are not to eat; for, the day you eat of that, you are doomed to die’ (Gen. 2:16-17). [Wasn’t this because God knew that man would not be able to handle that knowledge responsibly or wisely, and probably be intoxicated by it, and misuse it to his detriment.]
Delight, Security and Contentment in Innocence and Trust
In His loving care for man, ‘Yahweh God said, “It is not right that the man should be alone. I shall make him a helper.” (Gen. 2: 18)…..Yahweh God fashioned the rib he had taken from the man into a woman, and brought her to the man. And the man said: This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!’ (Gen.2: 21 -23).
[The Devil steps in. Know your enemy’s tactics]
Satanic Subtlety & Deceit at Work
1. Doubt [Question God’s directive. Confuse the intended victim] ‘Now, the snake..the most subtle… asked the woman, “Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?” The woman answered the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death” ‘ (Gen.3: 1- 3).
2. Denial [Contradict God’s word, give the impression that the commands of God may be disregarded and disobeyed with impunity.] ‘Then the snake said to the woman, “No! You will not die!” ‘ (Gen. 3:4).
3. Denigration [Cast aspersions on God’s wisdom, protective caring and integrity. Make Him out to be a liar. Generate prideful thoughts in the heart of the prey. ] ‘God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.’ (Gen. 3:5)
4. Discontent [Create festering discontent, envy. Incite him to want centre stage, seek power and the ‘right’ to go my own way, accountable to none]
5. Dazzling Deceit [Promote the illusion that sin brings something better than God’s kindness and love] ‘The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was enticing for the wisdom that it could give.’ (Gen. 3:6)
6. Defiance & Disobedience ‘So she took some of its fruit and ate it.
She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.’ (Gen. 3:6) [The sinner strives to drag others along with him, sharing the guilt]
7. The Devil’s Departure [The tempter abandons his victim, leaving him to suffer the consequences of his folly.]
8. Day of Reckoning ‘Yahweh God called to the man (Gen 3:9), “Have you been eating from the tree I forbade you to eat?” ‘ (Gen 3:11)
9. Disclaimer [Make excuses. Blame someone else.]
‘The man replied, “It was the woman you put with me; she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then Yahweh God said to the woman, “Why did you do that?” The woman replied, “The snake tempted me and I ate.” ‘ (Gen. 3: 12 & 13)
10. Deception, Despondency and Darkness [Sin, the illusory promise – both then and today] (Gen. 3: 7 -24)
The Church Teaches
By his death on the cross, Jesus Christ conquered the devil. Risen from the dead Christ’s power is infinitely greater than that of Satan so that when we call upon the name of Jesus there is nothing to fear from the evil one. We never tackle the devil on our own but always in the name of Jesus. Not giving the devil too much attention we simply repudiate him, “Be off, Satan”.
Lord, be merciful to us who have sinned against your love. Forgive us and deliver us from the wiles of the Evil One. Be Thou our Light our Love and our salvation.