Sunday: The Serpent Was More Cunning
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Read Genesis 3:1. How is Satan, in the form of a serpent, described?

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

How is the truth of that depiction revealed even in that one verse?

The cunning of the serpent is seen in the way he introduces his temptation. He does not make a direct attack but attempts to engage the woman in conversation. Note that the serpent’s words include at least two problematic aspects. First, he asks if God really made a particular statement. At the same time, he phrases his question to raise doubt about the generosity of God. In effect, he asks, “Did God really withhold anything from you? Did He not give you permission to eat from every tree in the garden?” By intentionally misquoting God’s instructions, the serpent entices the woman to correct his statement and successfully draws her into conversation. The serpent’s strategy is certainly “cunning.”

Of course, none of that should be surprising. Jesus called the devil a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). In Revelation 12:9 the devil deceives the whole world, which means that none of us, even as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, are safe. Satan has, obviously, lost none of his cunning or deceptiveness. He still uses the strategy that was successful with Eve. He raises questions about God’s Word and God’s intentions, hoping to raise doubts and draw us into “conversation.” We must be vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8) in order to resist his devices.

Compare Matthew 4:3-10 with Genesis 3:1. What similar ploy did Satan try on Jesus, and why did it fail? What lessons can we learn from how Jesus responded to the devil’s attacks in the wilderness? In what ways does Satan try the same thing with us, now?

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Sunday: The Serpent Was More Cunning — 37 Comments

  1. It doesn't matter how cunning the serpent is, for it is written that, 'we wont be tempted beyond what we cant bear'. Dont forget to pray as Jesus taught in Lord's prayer, '........lead us not into temptation......,' my fred, temptations are there for christians to stand strong.

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    • Yes, that's right Ronny. I believe that God's power through the holy spirit will give us strength to resist any temptations. But we should read our bibles to be aware of Satan's devices.

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  2. Satan is a very old misleader. He takes 80% of the truth and dilutes it with 20% of his strong lies, and if you give-in perishing is the price.

    Satan pretended to have been quoting Genesis 2:16, but he only raised awareness of what the woman knew and twisted the word of God to raise confusion and before the woman could correct the twisted sentence she fell in satan's trap.

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  3. i have a question....when christ said thou shall not tempt God the father, what does it realy mean to temp God.

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    • To tempt God means, not to put God to the test, to challenge God to use His divine power as in the example of Matthew 4:4-7. When Satan tried to get Jesus to test God's saving power and to tempt Him to turn the stones into bread as he was hungry after His 40 day fast, but God said to him, do not temp or "test" me, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that preceeds out of the mouth of God."

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    • Kahemba, to tempt God means to presume upon Him by placing ourselves where He has not led us, so we can see if He will "save" us. It would be like jumping off a high cliff to see if God will send angels to catch us before we hit the bottom. This is what Satan was tempting Jesus to do while on top of the Temple.

      When wicked men bound up God's faithful and threw them into the fiery furnace, God saved His servants. If we willingly cast ourselves into the flames, expecting God to perform a miracle, we are tempting God.

      Think of "tempting" as "testing". God invites us to prove Him, but not to test Him. Can you see the difference?

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      • I really like this! to prove God is to live and trust in His promises while testing God has a connotation of doubt. Can God really do this? We need to to trust and obey God under all situations.

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  4. Yes, as Christians, especially as Seventh day adventists, we will always be tempted by the devil and his agents, because according to today's lesson, the devil has lost nothing of his ability to deceive and mislead the children of God. The good thing is that the Lord has provided for us a sure means of escape from the wiles of the enemy. All we need to overcome temptations are embedded in the scriptures. We should therefore always study the scriptures so as to be one step ahead of the devil all the time. Maranatha!

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  5. As childre of God we must make it a point to study the bible prayerfully because the devil misquotes the holy words,so must be sure that we also defeat him bypresenting the bible truth as it is.

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  6. In answer to Kahemba Kekoma's question, the word Jesus used regarding "tempting" God were a quote spoken to the Israelites when they were on their trip to Canaan from Egypt. God provided for them in miraculous ways, and yet they tested or tempted His patience by demanding water and not believing that He would provide it. The "tempting" of God seems to be when we do not believe His promises and try His patience by making demands. We shouldn't dare God to do something for us to prove that He is able to provide or to prove that the promises in the Bible are true. He does not need to prove His love and care because He is always loving and caring. Our part is to trust and wait for Him to act.

    An interesting side thought from our lesson, this question about tempting God is something that we seem to repeat. I want God to help me to trust more and refrain from demanding God do things for me. I know He is always there; I can always ask for help. Still, I should ask because I believe His promises and I am willing to wait for His timing in my life.

    Back to our lesson. The Devil tempts us at our weakest points, but we can trust God instead of giving in to the doubts and temptations that come at us. God does promise all the help we need. We can hide behind Jesus and trust Him to save us every day!

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  7. The Psalmist reminds us how to keep satan at bay. Psalm 119:11 "I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you."

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  8. The devils' deceptions are not new and so the Lord admonishes us to shun the very APPEARANCE of evil. He also says we are to guard the avenues of our soul, by beholding we become change so let that change be only for righteousness. Its not easy staying focussed but if we turn our eyes upon Jesus and look full in his wonderful face then the things of this earth will go strangely dim. This is not the time to have our guard down when the devil knows he has but a short time and is busy seeking whom he may devour.

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  9. Jesus was the word of God. Satan could not compeat with the word therefore we must eat the word, digest it and let it nurish our entire being. Then and only then will we be able to withstand his cunning nature. Know the origional and you will be able to spot a counterfeit a mile away.

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  10. As the Adam of today in the garden, where we are now, Jesus finished everything at calvary. Only that we empack on readings and prayers is only way of overcoming satan.

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  11. Satan quotes and twists the truth. Like Jesus, our Example, we should have the word of God in our heart and quote the real truth. Satan is a defeated foe, he is fighting a loosing battle. Victory is ours!

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  12. Where was the Lord God when His creation was being tossed by the devil? Why were their eyes opened after Adam had ate the fruit?

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    • Lovemore, God was as near as their thoughts. He was in the commandment Eve rehearsed to the serpent. His help was dependent upon their choosing to obey Him. The law is a wall of protection to all who "seek refuge" in it. (The word "trust" in Psalm 118:8 means "seek refuge", which is a wonderful way to translate it) Trusting, revealed in obedience, provides refuge from the experience of having our "eyes opened" to terrible sorrows.

      God changes not, and if promising to never leave or forsake us, He surely offered the same to Adam and Eve.

      Their eyes were opened to the truth of God's warning. There are many things we would never have to experience if obedient, which sinning will reveal to us. Adam and Eve had one eye-opening experience after another as life around them began to die, including their son Abel at the hands of his own brother Cain. This opened their eyes to the purpose of God in giving them the commandment, which by obeying, would have spared them this great sorrow.

      God never intended that man should know (experience) evil. The term "their eyes were opened" is another way of saying "they understood".

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  13. I have a question..
    Why did Eve say that God had warned her not to even touch the fruit, where from the instructions given by God she had been told not to eat of the tree?

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    • Here is what Ellen White says in answer to your question. She doesn't say why Eve overstated God's command, but she notes that this gave Satan an advantage. The quotation is from the book Confrontation.

      " Eve thought that the serpent’s discourse was very wise, and that the prohibition of God was unjust. She looked with longing desire upon the tree laden with fruit which appeared very delicious. The serpent was eating it with apparent delight. She longed for this fruit above every other variety which God had given her a perfect right to use. {Con 14.1}
      Eve had overstated the words of God’s command. He had said to Adam and Eve, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” In Eve’s controversy with the serpent, she added “Neither shall ye touch it.” Here the subtlety of the serpent appeared. This statement of Eve gave him advantage; he plucked the fruit and placed it in her hand, using her own words, He hath said, If ye touch it, ye shall die. You see no harm comes to you from touching the fruit, neither will you receive any harm by eating it. {Con 14.2}
      Eve yielded to the lying sophistry of the devil in the form of a serpent. She ate the fruit, and realized no immediate harm. She then plucked the fruit for herself and for her husband. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” {Con 14.3}
      Adam and Eve should have been perfectly satisfied with their knowledge of God derived from His created works and received by the instruction of the holy angels. But their curiosity was aroused to become acquainted with that of which God designed they should have no knowledge. It was for their happiness to be ignorant of sin. The high state of knowledge to which they thought to attain by eating of the forbidden fruit, plunged them into the degradation of sin and guilt. {Con 15.1}"

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    • Timothy, I think you are really asking, Why did God give Eve free choice?

      The alternative would be to have created her without the ability to choose contrary to His will. He could have created her to be a robot.

      Would you be satisfied by being "loved" by someone who was programmed to act "loving" but had no choice to act otherwise?

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  14. One of satan's tricks for us s.d.a.christians is to have us living as the five folish virgins. We are in the church and are not really saved, meaning we are active members we take part in church because we can but we are not connected to Jesus. Even though we live all our lives in the church yet we are not converted. That is something we have to look at and be true to ourselves, and know where we are with our salvation. Satan would have it that we become busy working in the church, yet we are no where with God. He is saying to us we shall not surely die.

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  15. Tempting God is the situation whereby we as Jesus Believers and Followers, being exposed to all the facts regarding God, having all the warnings of the danger facing us, being equiped with weapons for our defence, We actually neglect them by committing sins expecting that God will save us from the CONSEQUENCES:

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  16. I appreciate the insights brought out by the brethren. One important aspect we must not forget is that, its easier said than done. Do we live the faith we profess?
    Let us remember that God did not create us as robots. We have been give power to distinguish good and bad.Beyond that, Our God did not leave us out on our own to start presuming what is good and what is bad. A good Father always want the best for his child, thu our creator made plain before our eyes what is good and what is bad. And if we choose to follow what is good, His protection will always be there for us. The fact is, we know what is good for us,but we want to experimet things and at the end of it, we want to blame God. Let us take God at His word.He is on the mission of saving souls down trdden by the evil of this world. If only we hide His word in our lives, indeed, at every assult by the devil, we will remain victorious. The Lord does not want us to live in darkness just as the Pslmist says in Ps 119:105. The knowledge and acknowledgement of Him in our lives will ever shine in our daily endeavours.

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  17. Cunningness and Sin-nakedness

    In preparing for sabbath school I discovered a connection between the cunningness of the serpent and the nakedness of Adam and Eve, which is sin-nakedness. Satan used the serpent als medium to entice Eve into sin. The characteric of the serpent is described with the adjective arum which means: Crafty, cunning or wily (Genesis 3:1,see also Iob 5:12 and Iob 15:5 where the same word is used). After Adam and Eve had eaten from the forbidden tree, their eyes were opened. They realized that they were naked. The word for naked sounds similar to arum (cunning), as the text uses the adjective eirumim (spoken) as the description of being naked (Genesis 3:7). This word is repeated in Genesis 3:10-11.

    The cunningness of the serpent is aiming at making Adam and Eve naked deep doown in their soul. Having transgressed the commandment of God, they experienced a nakedness in sin and transgression. Their sinless righteousness was gone. While the wily foe is aiming at such kind of nakedness, the plan of salvation is aiming at the cross for sin-nakedness to be covered with the sinless righteousness of Christ being imputed by faith and grace (2 Corinthians 5:21). What a Savior!

    Winfried Stolpmann

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    • Praise the Lord that Jesus was willing to become naked for us on the cross so that we might be clothed with His righteousness!

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  18. Where in the Bible is the serpent explained? Was it the Devil in disguise or did he speak through the serpent? As far as I know, only EGW supplies any info on that, but I would like a biblical reference for those outside the church.

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    • The closest is probably the following:

      Revelation 12:9
      And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
      Revelation 12:8-10

      Revelation 20:2
      And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
      Revelation 20:1-3

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    • Karina, we know that reptiles do not have the required physiology to speak, so we are left to understand that Satan spoke through the serpent as the Angel spoke through Balaam's donkey. Satan has never appeared as himself beginning at least with Eden according to Revelation 17. He "was, is not, and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit". This means he won't be unmasked until after the 1000 years as the fallen cherub that once stood before the Lord. Those who know God's word will not be deceived when he appears as a friend or ally. Our senses cannot be relied on, but rather, a "thus saith the Lord".

      Satan uses any medium that lends itself to his command, and whether or not the serpent gave consent, Adam and Eve had a clear command from their Creator with adequate warning. A speaking serpent should have alerted Eve of the deception taking place.

      The story itself, along with our understanding of reptiles gives sufficient evidence of Satan's use of another creature to carry out his deception.
      The fact that snakes must crawl on their belly seems to validate the involvement of the serpent, most likely by choice. Could God curse an innocent victim and remain Just? The Bible tells us the serpent was the most "subtle" (crafty, sensible, skillful, clever, etc) creature subject to man. There are a number of ancient cultures that depict winged serpents, which would lead us to believe this information was passed down beyond the flood and the nations separated at Babel took this knowledge with them to all points on the globe. The Bible is silent, but the evidence available makes it a valid conclusion.

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  19. Jesus quoted scripture, in his extremely exhausted and malnourished state after 40days of dry fasting. That must encourage us to know The Bible because satan knows it too and uses God s word in a cunning way to make us fall. Jesus give us the spirit of reading for spiritual enrichment.

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  20. Brethren, why did God put enmity between the serpent and man? I know that whatever God does is for the good of man, now what good or benefits has come from that enmity?

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