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THE SERPENT AND THE WOMAN

(SERMON #11 ON THE BOOK OF GENESIS)

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, August 5, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).


When we think about Genesis 3:1 we must put out of our minds the medieval paintings we have seen, based on the temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Those paintings show a snake, twisted through the branches of a tree, telling Adam and Eve to eat a red apple hanging from the branches. This is a complete misrepresentation of what we actually read in the Bible. First, there was no snake, as we know snakes. Whatever form the “serpent” had, it was certainly not shaped like any snake we see in the world today. Dr. Ryrie speculates that it was “apparently a beautiful creature, in an uncursed state” (Charles C. Ryrie, Ph.D., The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978, p. 11; note on Genesis 3:1). Satan had taken possession of the serpent. Dr. Gill said, “As possessed and used by Satan as an instrument of his designs, as is evident from its having the faculty of speech, and use of reason, employed in a very artful and sophisticated manner…the Scriptures always describe the seduction of man to the devil; who, because he acted his deceitful part in and by the serpent, is called the serpent, and the old serpent, and the devil and Satan, II Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume I, p. 22; note on Genesis 3:1).

Thus, I believe that Satan spoke through the mouth of this beautiful creature. Eve was not surprised when it talked to her. Dr. Morris said, “It may simply be that Eve, in her innocence, did not yet know that the animals around her in [the Garden of] Eden were incapable of speaking and so was not alarmed when the serpent spoke to her” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, 1986 edition, p. 109). Again, Dr. Morris said, “It is obvious that there is more to this event than a mere fable of a talking snake. The Bible later identifies that ‘old serpent’ as none other than the devil himself, Revelation 12:9; 20:2” (Morris, ibid., p. 107).

Here we are confronted for the first time with the problem of evil in the world. If God is omnipotent and holy, why does He permit evil, indeed how could evil exist at all? The only Biblical answer to the problem of the existence of evil is found right here in the third chapter of Genesis. Dr. Morris said, “Before man could bring sin into the world, he must be persuaded to sin by an agent external to himself, since there was as yet nothing in [man’s] own nature to lead him in such a direction [of sin]” (Morris, ibid., page 106).

Where did Satan come from? Two passages in the Old Testament give the answer. In Isaiah 14:12-15 we are told,

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15).

The Scofield Study Bible says that this passage “evidently refers to Satan, who, as the prince of this world system…is the real though unseen ruler…This tremendous passage marks the beginning of sin in the universe. When Lucifer said, ‘I will [be like the most High]’ sin began” (The Scofield Study Bible, 1917 edition, note on Isaiah 14:12). This same powerful evil spirit is spoken of in Ezekiel 28, which says,

“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God…Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee…Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground…thou shalt be a terror”
      (Ezekiel 28:13, 15, 17, 19).

Dr. Morris said, “The statements made in [these passages] could never be true of a mere earthly king” (Morris, ibid., p. 107). They refer to Satan, the true power behind the kings of Babylon and Tyre. And in the passage of Scripture in Ezekiel, Satan was said to have “been in Eden the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:13). I believe this to be a direct indication that Satan was in the serpent speaking to Eve, as we saw in our text,

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).

Notice that this was not the last time Satan appeared to seduce a person. The fourth chapter of Luke tells us that Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, near the beginning of the ministry of the Saviour. Here in the fourth chapter of Luke we are told that Jesus,

“was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being forty days tempted of the devil” (Luke 4:1-2).

As with Eve, the Devil spoke to Christ. But here he does not appear to have spoken through an animal or a reptile. He spoke directly to Jesus, tempting Him in a similar way, as he tempted our first parents in the Garden of Eden. Yet, whereas Adam and Eve gave in to Satan’s temptation, the Lord Jesus Christ resisted him. This was the beginning of Christ undoing the sin of man in the Garden of Eden, which was eventually completed when He died on the Cross to pay the penalty for our sins, and rose bodily from the dead to give us new life.

Satan, and his demonic angels, appear throughout the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts as adversaries of God and Christ. Indeed, one of the names given to this malicious evil spirit means “adversary.” This is the very meaning of the name “Satan.” He is our adversary, and he is God’s adversary and enemy even today. The Apostle Peter wrote,

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith” (I Peter 5:8-9).

The true Christian is told to resist the Devil “in the faith.” Our faith in Christ is our greatest weapon against the wiles of the Devil.

But if you have never been converted I know that you are even more apt to be deceived and tricked by Satan than Eve was in the Garden of Eden. In fact, without God’s grace, you will always be deceived. The Apostle Paul said,

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”
      (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

Just as it was with Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan’s real purpose is to blind you to the truth of the Gospel and keep you from salvation in Christ. He tricked Eve into eating of the forbidden fruit, thus keeping her from eating of the fruit of the Tree of Life so she could live forever in God’s paradise of Eden.

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1).

Satan’s first treacherous trick was to get Eve to doubt what God had said. Is that not true today as well? Satan wants you to have doubts about what God says in the Bible, particularly what the Word of God says about your salvation. Resist the Devil and believe the Bible. Jesus said,

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Throw off the tempting thoughts of Satan, and come to Christ, and you will find rest for your soul, as He promised. Come to Christ and you will be justified completely in the sight of God. Come to Christ by faith and every sin you have ever committed, or ever will commit, will be washed clean by Jesus’ Blood the moment you come to Him by faith. As Joseph Hart, the great Puritan hymn writer said,

The moment a sinner believes,
   And trusts in his crucified God,
His pardon at once he receives,
   Redemption in full through His Blood.
(“The Moment a Sinner Believes” by Joseph Hart, 1712-1768).

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Genesis 3:1-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“He Who Would Valiant Be” (by John Bunyan, 1628-1688).