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.” (NLT)
Being tempted is not usually a case of it being suggested to us that we do something bad. Most of us are too decent to fall for that. More likely, we are tempted by the evil one suggesting that we decide what is good and what is bad. Is that ‘bad’ thing really bad?
This is the point of the serpent’s statement at the end of our text: it is not as if eating that fruit means they will then come to know good and evil. They already know that, otherwise they would not be guilty of disobeying the good command of God. It is rather that they will be the ones to determine what is good and evil. In other words, they will play God.
It is a seductive suggestion: I can choose to do what I like because I make up the rules. What was also seductive, and untrue, was the serpent’s suggestion that the first humans were not allowed to eat of any fruit of any tree. Typical of the evil one’s lies making God more ruthless and tyrannical.
The woman corrects the serpent but falls into the same error. She reckons they were not even allowed to touch the fruit, something not mentioned by God earlier on. We can so easily twist God’s commands, so easily be seduced by an attractive lie. The evil one is so clever, so we need to be so wise.