The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves. (NLT)
When we are tempted, it is rare for us to be tempted to a particularly bad thing. Rather the temptation is to do or feel or say something that we are persuaded to think is not that bad after all. Which is what happened in the Garden of Eden. Eating a bit of fruit was not bad in itself, the wrongness lay in the fact God said not to eat it.
Sin, after all, is a mindset of self-assertion over against God. It is a declaration of independence on the part of human beings. Eve was persuaded to think that God’s commands were up for debate and that she had the power and right to decide for herself what was right and wrong. This is the subtlety of sin. Doing a seemingly minor or harmless thing with a mindset of independence from God.
Of course, sin does not bring blessing to us and we discover independence from God is not the same as true freedom. And ever since Eve we have been making the same mistake. We decide for ourselves moral values and we don’t want God interfering with our plans and desires.
Satan often speaks with the voice of sweet reason. We wouldn’t listen otherwise. We need wisdom from the Spirit to recognise sweet reason is anything but sweet and reasonable if it goes against the gracious truth of God.