by Lois Tverberg
Now the serpent … said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, `You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’? The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, `You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. – Genesis 3:1-5
An interesting lesson that we can learn from Eve is the way that she got in trouble and opened a door for Satan to “win” in her conversation with him.
Eve was probably trying to be faithful to God in her conversation with Satan, but when she told the serpent God’s regulations regarding the tree, she overstated what God had said by saying that they must not even touch it or they will die. She was exaggerating for God’s sake, by making his rule more strict than it really was. Satan probably smirked when he heard her say something untrue, because he knew it was an opportunity for him to gain an advantage. When he said, “You surely will not die,” he had spoken the truth about touching the tree. At that point, his temptations gained credibility in her mind because he corrected her own misstatement.
The thing we can learn from this is the great damage we can do when we over-speak for God and misrepresent his word to other people. This happens in several ways: Well-meaning people make God’s rules more strict than they really are, and put burdens on other’s shoulders to keep impossible, legalistic rules. By insisting on extra requirements that are not central to salvation, well-meaning people often put up barriers to sincere seekers to follow Christ.
Or, sometimes a person claims a certain scientific discovery proves the Bible, and when it is disproved, people doubt the truth of the whole thing. Or, when a person says that one specific doctrine is absolutely necessary for salvation, people are forced to choose sides in battles that divide the church. We can almost see the serpent smirking at all the unnecessary anguish and lost faith that has come from the misrepresentation of God’s word.
We must be ever mindful that our own zeal does not cause us to go beyond God, as we put words in God’s mouth. We need to always speak to let God’s truth be known.