It’s so interesting to me how our imaginings of stories change as we grow older. If you grew up in Sunday school, I’m sure that your view of Bible stories has changed as you’ve grown up and begun to read the Bible for yourself. For me, the story of the fall of man has changed greatly as I’ve grown older.
Adam was set in the garden by God to tend to the trees and plants and animals. This was before sin came into the world, so you know this was a good gig. The soil was fertile and easy to tend to and I’m sure that Adam had a really good time hanging out with all the cool animals that God created. In the middle of the garden was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the one tree from which they could not eat. There were lush trees and ripe fruit all around them, so this one thing being off limits was pretty fair.
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’”
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.”
What intrigues me about these verses is their proximity to the tree. We don’t know how big Eden was, but I’m assuming it was way larger than my backyard or even the coffee shop that I’m sitting in right now. I like to believe that the garden was vast and extended for miles and miles, giving Adam and Eve plenty of opportunities for exploration and work. Yet, notice where Eve decided to stay: near the tree they weren’t supposed to eat from. Instead of being busy about the work they were tasked to do, they decided to hang around the one area where temptation would be the strongest.
Where is temptation the strongest for you?
Are there certain situations where you’re not sinning, but aren’t the best to keep you striving after Jesus? Like how being in a bar isn’t the best for a recovering alcoholic or hanging out with that friend who talks about everyone isn’t great if you’re trying not to gossip. While these things aren’t necessarily wrong, they’re clear set-ups for temptation.
I don’t believe that Eve started out by the tree. I think that over time, whether that was days or weeks or months, the voice of the enemy grew louder in her ear than the voice of God. She began to idolize that thing that she couldn’t have and sought her pleasure over honoring the one who created and loved her. She drew closer to the thing she was to have no part in until, finally, the temptation began so strong that she indulged.
While there will always be temptations, things in our lives that threaten to pull us further from God, we can do our best to strengthen our relationship with God so that the temptation is overshadowed by his love. We can also distance ourselves from the things that so easily entangle us. If you struggle with anger, go to a counselor and get to the root of the problem, if you struggle with watching porn (and this is not just a problem for men) then block some sites on your computer or don’t allow yourself to be in a room alone with a device.
We aren’t powerless to our urges or emotions, but we can use self-control and rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit to get us through those tough moments of temptation. Let’s be people who are both practical and in tune with the Spirit, relying on God and using the wisdom he’s given us. And, let’s quickly come to the Lord when we fall, instead of giving shame an opportunity to take root in our lives.