Discipleship: The Serpent and You
In the paradise of Eden, Adam and Eve had all they needed. They were content at first. God had given them the run of the garden, except for the fruit of one tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were told to leave that fruit alone, and they did – until the serpent, Satan, made a few subtle suggestions.
“Why not have everything?” he asked Eve. She knew that God had said, “You must not eat fruit from the tree [the fruit of this one tree], and you must not touch it, or you will die” (Genesis 3:3).
But the serpent was quick to plant a seed of doubt: “Did God really say that? And if he did say it, why? The fruit is good. Why listen to the unreasonable commands of God that prevent you from fully experiencing life?”
Eve was persuaded after a little manipulation. When she brought the idea to Adam, he accepted it and also ate of the forbidden fruit.
This story has overtones for us today. That serpent was not confined to the Garden of Eden. The same serpent (Revelation 12:9) and the same seductions come sliding up to us every day, presenting us with the idea that we know better than God. And dissatisfaction with life is an attitude Satan still offers us.
“Are there appetites you have been commanded to control? Why not indulge them?” he asks. “Are there forbidden desires just out of reach? Why not find some way to grab hold of them?”
These are thoughts we must reject. Some desires, were they to be fulfilled, would hurt us. There are some ambitions that God, in his wisdom, does not want us to gratify – not to limit us, but to help us avoid trouble we cannot foresee. Life itself also throws up its own restrictions. To acknowledge that we cannot always have everything our way is a mark of maturity.
Jesus told us that to inherit the kingdom of God, we must humble ourselves and become like little children (Matthew 18:3-4). We must maintain an attitude of humility in our relationship to God and his way of life. The apostle Paul understood this concept from experience. “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians 4:11).
Satan is a fallen angel who heads the evil forces in the spirit realm. He is referred to in the Bible in various ways, including the devil, enemy, evil one, murderer, liar, thief, tempter, accuser of the believers, prince of demons and god of this age or world. He is in constant rebellion against God. Satan generates discord, deception and disobedience among human beings. In Christ, Satan is already defeated, and his dominion and influence as god of this age will cease at Christ’s return (John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 Peter 5:8; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 12:9-10; 20:1-3).
Satan is pictured above as a serpent in a detail from James Tissot’s 19th-century watercolor titled God’s Curse. Images of serpents were sometimes associated with gods or deities of the underworld and may have symbolized winter, sometimes called the “season of death.”