"So, if you think
you are standing firm,
be careful that you don't fall!"
you are standing firm,
be careful that you don't fall!"
~ 1 Corinthians 10:12
I've long wondered about Eve. Her heart. The deceit. That first bite. Her sin - the original sin...
What was it about the fruit, or the serpant, or the cool breeze in the garden that was compelling enough to make her cross that rigid line of obedience into the realm of brokenness?
I've heard much teaching on Eve and the source of her disobedience. "It was discontentment." "Greed." "Lust." "Pride." "Selfishness", I've been told. But how would these sins have entered her heart? In an infant Earth, still gleaming with newness; not yet marred with the ugly stains of sin, how (or why) would Eve's heart have been drawn to the evil of disobedience?
I began to wonder....could her disobedience have been well-intentioned? 'Well-intentioned disobedience' may seem unlikely, if not impossible, at first glance. Sort of an oxymoron. But consider this:
The mother of a 5-year-old child has instructed her daughter countless times over the years
that she should never, ever, under any circumstances get into a vehicle with a stranger. The
child is mature, bright, responsible, trustworthy, and obedient for her age. The mother feels
confident that if her daughter were ever to be approached by a stranger that she would yell
and scream for help. And that there is no chance the child would willingly get into a vehicle
with the stranger.
One day, as the child is waiting to be picked up from school, a strange man approaches her.
He calls her by name and says, "Your mommy sent me to pick you up today. You see, she's
been in a vehicle accident, and I'm from the hospital. She can't come and get you because
she's been hurt. But I came to pick you up to take you to her. She told me that she has
instructed you to never get into a vehicle with a stranger, so you might be hesitant to get in
my car, but she said I should tell you that in this instance it is okay to come with me, so that I can
take you to her.
take you to her.
The child is young, innocent, new to the world. She trusts and desires to obey her mother. But now she's been confronted with a form of deceit that tells her that obedience has now changed to appear like disobedience, in a sense. The evil in this scenario is appealing to the child's desire to obey her mother, while also exploiting her innocence; her inability to process through the concepts that deceit can take some very clever forms. That disobedience in any form, for any reason, is still disobedience. And that there is evil in this world that desires to harm her. She has been tricked.
The child innocently and without hesitation, concerned only for her mother, and not fully aware that this is still, in fact, an act of disobedience, gets into the vehicle with the stranger and they drive away...
Is this still disobedience?
Yes! When your ultimate authority gives a clear directive with no stated exceptions, any deviation from that directive, for any reason whatsoever, no matter how innocent, is disobedience.
Are the consequences diminished or lessened because her disobedience was a mistake and not necessarily an act of rebellion?
No, of course not! When the directive was established for the child's protection (to prevent her from getting into a car with a child abductor), and she, in her innocence, falls for his deception, the resulting consequences will be no different than if she had disobeyed in overt rebellion.
Are her consequences a punishment doled out by her mother, or simply the 'natural consequences' of her poor, albeit innocent, choices?
The directive was established to keep the child safe. Deviation from that directive resulted in the natural consequences that the mother was attempting to protect her child from. The consequence in this instance is not a punishment, meant to teach or train, but simply the evil the mother had hoped to avoid.
Isn't it similar with God, Eve, and Adam? Before the fall, there was one singular command: not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Just one. There was no need for any additional commands - sin had not entered the world yet. Adam and Eve did not need to be told not to murder, or lie, or lust. They did not need to be warned of the dangers of pride, or greed, or gluttony. None of those things were yet a part of our world, or their hearts. They didn't need to be reminded to 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only' (Deuteronomy 6:13), that is what they were created for and they did it perfectly, probably effortlessly. God placed one restriction in their world, thereby granting them free-will. And with that one restriction he placed one, singular command. A command, it's worth noting, that is not related to any specific sin as we know and understand sin in the post-fallen world. A command just meant to keep them, and the rest of the earth, safe from sin and brokenness, and to test their faithfulness.
They honored that command perfectly until the day the serpent shows up. We get no indication from the text that Eve was tempted by the fruit prior to the serpent. The text does not paint a picture of an evil woman salivating over the fruit, battling with the temptation and the desires of her flesh. Would the act of sinning have been a temptation in a world free from sin??
In a sinless world, what was it that compelled Eve to disobey her loving Father? When I open the text, I feel as though I can get a glimpse of her heart in these verses:
" 'For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it." Genesis 3:5-6a
I don't think her desire here is for sin, or even for the fruit itself, but for God alone! The deception of the serpent was that having the knowledge of good and evil would bring her even closer to her God ("...you will be like God", Genesis 3:5). When she saw that it was "desirable for gaining wisdom" (Genesis 3:6), she ate! Wisdom is good. In fact, we are encouraged to ask God for wisdom later in scripture (James 1:5). Could Eve have l o s t s i g h t of the command in her zeal to be f a i t h f u l to God? I know it's kind of a crazy thought. And one not widely considered, but...
When I look at Eve, I don't see any of the very ugly sins that hide in the hearts of post-fallen man. I see an innocent, well-intentioned disobedience that rendered the exact same natural consequence as a rebellious disobedience would have rendered. I see a scheme the evil one used several times throughout the Bible on well-intentioned individuals, and most definitely still utilizes today.
In 1 Samuel 10:8 Saul is instructed to wait 7 days for Samuel to come and offer burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. But in 1 Samuel 7-14 we see that by the seventh day Samuel still had not come, so Saul felt the need to take things into his own hands and offer the sacrifices himself. In 1 Samuel 13:12 Saul says to Samuel, "I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." Well intentioned?? Samuel replies in verse 13: " ' You have done a foolish thing...You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.' " ...But not free from consequence.
In 1 Chronicles 13:9b-10 we read: "Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God." Was this an act of defiant rebellion, or well-intentioned to h o n o r God?
'The Man of God from Judah' in 1 Kings 13:1-25 was extremely faithful to God, withstanding various temptations in order to honor God's command to him. But then he was deceived by an old prophet into disobeying the command that he had held firmly to in the face of temptation, and he suffered the consequences. Where temptation failed at causing him to stumble, deceit succeeded.
Was Eve the sinful, dissatisfied woman that we so often like to make her out to be? Or was she just truly, innocently deceived? And what do we learn from this? That Satan can and will try to deceive us - we knew that already. But that deception can be murkier and look a lot more confusing than just false doctrine, the Bible shows us that sometimes we miss this. And when we're unaware of Satan's schemes, that's when they become most effective. Deception can look very, very righteous. We must remember, that when it comes to God, the ends (of righteousness) never justify the means (of disobedience). A command of God is a command to be kept. Always. There is simply no room for human reasoning.
Just like I instruct my children to never, ever get into a car with a stranger, "...even if they tell you that Mommy said so."