In this modern world a lot of Christians play lip service to the existence of Satan and his demons. Yet the strange thing is while so many are willing to dismiss Satan, they hope for angels. So while they will hold on to angels, they will dismiss the notion of a fallen angel who has risen up to attack that which God loves. This is utter foolishness. If we believe the Bible is truth, then we must accept that there is an Enemy who seeks our utter destruction. He will appeal to our desires to get us to disobey God and to separate us from the One who saves, restores, and sustains us. He’ll even give us the idea that we can be like God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
– Genesis 3:1-5, ESV
If you’ve ever had a cat or dog which you’ve spoiled, at some point it’s not unusual to start thinking, “So he acts like he’s a human.” What we are expressing is the pet is acting in a way similar to how humans act. The reality is that the animal is expressing just one behavior that is like what we do. However, in no way can a cat or dog fully express all that we can. You’ll never see a cat working an Algebra problem. You won’t see a dog struggling over the meaning of a poem. It’s foolish to think a cat or dog could be human. Or if you wanted to really consider things, look at an insect. We’ll use something nice like a butterfly. Could we ever think of a butterfly as a human? Could it ever do the things we do? We know the answer. It cannot. And just as a butterfly has no possibility to be like us, so too do we have no possibility of being like God in the way the serpent meant. Yet the trick worked, didn’t it?
Adam and Eve had everything. If you adhere to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, they were completely covered. The pyramid was complete. Physical needs were covered by the Garden. There was no threat to their safety. They were loved by each other and by their Creator. They were in a position of prominence and importance and all the rest of God’s creation was theirs to manage and govern. God had made them in His image and they were complete as humans. There were standing at the top of the pyramid. Yet they were not God. The serpent was suggesting they could jump from the top of the pyramid and touch the moon. As unrealistic and foolish as this seems, this is something they didn’t have. This was something they thought they wanted. Satan had enticed them with something that sounded so nice. Only, how would they get there? He suggested that he knew where the rocket packs were hidden. The way to the moon was through the fruit of the tree they were forbidden to eat from.
He seeded a desire they shouldn’t have had. He then watered it with a way to get that desire. Not only that, he added to that the fertilizer of distrust, a distrust of the One who had provided everything for them, for the one who created them. And it worked. That trick hasn’t stopped working. Look at our own lives. We fall to that trick all the time. Satan offers up a shiny trinket that we do not yet have. Then he suggests that getting it is easier than we thought and will cost us very little. But Satan is the con man’s con man. The trinket isn’t what it seems. The way to get there isn’t as easy as he would have us believe. That’s the lesson Adam and Eve learned and that’s the lesson that’s presented to us every time we go after the trinket we don’t need.
We should not want to be like God. Imagine the burdens He carries. Imagine the pain He feels when He sees a child of His making a bad choice and reaping the consequences. Consider the stake to the heart He receives every time one of the ones He died for instead chooses to enter death, rejecting Him forever. Do you want that? I don’t. I think about the blissful ignorance I had as a child. I compare it with what I know and think about and carry with me as an adult. Oh, if only we could return to those “halcyon days of youth!” See what I mean about the trinket not being what it seems?
But we don’t have to fall to the Enemy’s temptations. In Christ we have the freedom to say no. In the Holy Spirit we have the strength to reject the Enemy. In God the Father we have a protector we can approach in our need and plead our case. He will give us discernment to see that the shiny trinket is nothing but lead with a gold-plated surface. He will give us the wisdom to avoid going after it. And He will reveal to us the true treasures He has placed in our lives. He will open our eyes to see those things which last for eternity. We just have to choose to reject this vile Enemy, to repel him in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And we have to turn to cast our eyes on the One who doesn’t offer us shiny trinkets but real treasure.