The Everlasting Covenant


4 Temptation and Fall of Man

by Hubert F. Sturges, www.everlastingcovenant.com, December 2013

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. Revelation 12:7

It was not a war with tanks and guns. Christ is pictured as riding a white horse with a sharp sword coming out of His mouth (Rev. 19:15). The sharp sword is the Word of God (Heb. 4:12; Eph. 6:17). By speaking the truth, Jesus rules the “nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5). Satan and his evil angels “prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven” (Rev. 12:8); they were cast out of heaven to this earth.

Satan could tempt Adam and Eve only by causing them to eat of one designated tree: “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen. 2:17).1 It was a serious limitation for Satan and an easy test for Adam and Eve. This test would demonstrate whether they were willing to accept God’s will in all things. If they should stay away from the tree and not eat of it, they would live forever. If they should submit to Satan and eat of the tree, they would die.

Temptation is something that we face every day. It may be imperceptible at first, but, through the senses and our normal desires, at times we may face temptation that leaves little or no time for a reasoned response. Is it possible to stand guard and not be taken unaware? Yes, it is! However, it requires that a person resist sinful thoughts that can lead into sin. We must avoid seeing or being in the presence of evil. We must store the mind each day with messages from the Bible and pray for the Holy Spirit to guard the avenues of the soul: what we think, see, say, and do.


Warning: Rebel on the Loose

When Lucifer the leading angel in heaven rebelled, he became Satan, the “Adversary.” There was war in heaven and God cast Satan, with his evil angels, to earth. Jesus told His disciples, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). Mercifully, God limited Satan’s ability to tempt Adam and Eve to just one place: a tree in the middle of the garden. God warned that they must not eat fruit from that tree:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Gen. 2:16, 17)
This warning indicated that God told the newly created pair much more about sin and the devil than what is recorded in Scripture. “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, NIV).

Adam and Eve could eat of every tree in the garden except one. God gave this test to determine whether they were willing to obey Him in all things. It was not wrong to eat fruit from a tree. God restricted them from eating of one special tree to determine if Adam and Eve were willing to lay aside their own reasoning and accept His will, to recognize a mind and an authority higher than their own. If they chose to eat of that tree, thereby choosing not to serve God, they would disconnect from the One who gives life, and they would die. God informed Adam and Eve of the consequences of disobedience and gave them the power of choice and the ability to resist the devil and obey God’s clear command.


The Garden Tragedy

One day, as Eve was exploring the garden by herself, she came upon the forbidden tree. The fruit was ripe and beautiful, shimmering in the sunlight. Just then she remembered what God had said. As she quickly turned to find Adam, a beautiful, musical voice caught her attention. She looked back, but all that she saw was a serpent-a very beautiful serpent-in the tree.

“Hello, Eve. My but you are beautiful! Can you and I talk?”

“Who are you?” Eve responded, surprised to be addressed by such a creature. “I have never before heard a serpent talk. How did this happen?”

The serpent noisily bit off a piece of fruit. “I knew nothing about talking until I ate this fruit. Tell me, did God really say you are not to eat from every tree of the garden?”

“No,” said Eve, “God told us that we could eat from every tree in the garden except this one. He said we must not eat from it or even touch it, or we will die.”

Turning from the fruit, the serpent slyly cocked his head. “Well, the truth is, God knows that, when you eat of this tree, your eyes will be opened, and you will be able to choose your own way. You will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

Deception is often imperceptible. Without realizing it, Eve was falling under the spell of the devil’s deceptive sale’s pitch. Hearing the serpent talk was enticing. Without Eve’s awareness, the serpent involved her in something she had never done: she had never questioned God. Apparently Adam was not with her at the time, for he is never mentioned or addressed until after she ate of the fruit. Alone and naive, she was attempting to reason with an intelligence far superior to her own. It was the intelligence of Satan himself, who was using the serpent as a medium.2 The Bible says:

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. (Gen. 3:1-6)
Satan, through the serpent, offered strange and wonderful things to pique Eve’s curiosity. However, curiosity can be dangerous. Eve mistook the curse for a blessing. Her experience with Satan, the master of hypnosis, is a warning that humans must never put themselves in the path of temptation, even if it appears to offer exceptional benefits.

The devil can offer us nothing of benefit except that which God, the Creator of all science and of all the arts throughout all history has already created. God is the source of all wisdom, and He bids us choose the gift of His true wisdom over the counterfeit knowledge Satan has to offer.

Satan identified Eve’s weaknesses: worldly ambition, pride, curiosity about forbidden things, and willingness to question what God had said. She did not know that the “advantages” in distrusting God are self-serving pride, disappointment, disease, and death. Only in serving God do people gain real benefit.

Eve should have immediately left when she found herself nearing temptation and, certainly, when she heard the serpent questioning what God had said. Instead, she allowed his temptations to blind her to the one option that could save her: to turn immediately to God and flee temptation! To linger in the presence of temptation and sin is to invite disaster. Yet, God has a promise:

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor. 10:13).
Eve received at least three warnings to help her avoid danger, but she continued to linger. Eventually, she took the fruit and ate it, yielding to the temptations of appetite, beauty, and wisdom.


The Fall of Man

When Eve accepted the fruit from the serpent and ate it, she immediately felt a change. Imagining new vitalizing power, she picked more fruit and took it to share with Adam. As she approached her mate, she was enthusiastic about the fruit’s beauty, taste, and promise of greater wisdom. In alarm, Adam averted his eyes. Eve was without her beautiful robe of fluorescent light and was naked!3 As she explained what she had done, Adam listened through tears with a sinking heart. Eve must die, but how could he give her up? Deciding that he would rather die than live without her, he quickly took the fruit and ate.

As the robe of light faded from Adam’s form, Eve realized for the first time what had happened to her. The enthusiasm of the moment quickly turned to dread. In sorrow, the two watched the long rays of the afternoon sun give way to the shadows of evening. Soon it was time for their visit with God. They quickly looked for a way to cover for their loss.

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. (Gen. 3:7-13).

Why should this world be thrown into chaos and confusion, disease and death from two people eating fruit? What are the issues? God’s holiness and glory cannot allow sin to exist. In the malignant, destructive nature of even minor sins, there is an element of pride, unbelief, and rebellion. When small sins enter the soul, they only grow and lead to deeper sin. A Christian must not see, listen to, taste, feel, or harbor feelings for sin in any guise.

When people sin, they choose to obey another master. When Satan fell, he planned to cause humans to sin, make them his slaves, and become ruler of this world. However, he could not take control of this earth until both Adam and Eve had fallen.


Steps to Sin

God had warned Adam and Eve to stay together. Eve was to be a “helpmeet” to Adam and he to her (Gen. 2:20). When Eve wandered away from Adam, she was more vulnerable to deception. When she found herself at the forbidden tree, she lingered. When she heard the serpent talking, it was a cause of alarm, but she did not quickly leave. When the serpent raised doubts about God’s instructions, she listened. And when the serpent offered her wisdom from eating the fruit, she believed his lie. This took her across the line into sin as she took the next fatal step, ate the fruit, and became the devil’s emissary.

While Eve became an agent of Satan to cause Adam to sin, Adam ultimately held the greater responsibility. He made a conscious choice to sin while fully aware of the consequences. Satan could not entice and deceive Adam as he had Eve. Also, while Adam loved Eve with all his heart, did not God love her more? Would not God have had a better way of solving the problem of Eve’s sin than that which Adam could devise?

By choosing their own way instead of God’s, Adam and Eve separated from their Creator. They experienced the results of trying to find their own solutions to their problems, depending on themselves rather than seeking God for wisdom. They would continue down a path that was the beginning of old covenant legalism.

The fall of our first parents in following their own way affected everything on the earth. Animals became wild, and the land became less productive. Weeds, thorns, and thistles began to grow, and the weather became unpredictable. Man had to work harder to make a living, and women gave birth in pain. Human beings became selfish by nature, adversely affecting their worship of God.

Yet, through His everlasting love and mercy, God had a plan. He provided the mysterious bornagain experience and gave Adam and Eve the covenant of grace.


Endnotes

1. God did not wait until Eve was created to warn Adam about the tree. The warning is in Genesis 2:16, 17, while Eve was created in verse 22.

2. The book of Revelation identifies the devil as “that ancient serpent” (Rev. 12:9).

3. Before they sinned, Adam and Eve did not wear fabric or skins. They “were both naked ... and were not ashamed” (Gen. 2:25). Immediately after they sinned, “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7). Something had changed. Once naked and innocent, now they were naked and ashamed. There is no record of their having clothes or of their taking them off, though some describe Adam and Eve as wearing “robes of light” in the Garden of Eden.

For example, the Jewish Midrash Rabba on Genesis describes Adam and Eve wearing “garments of light.” Ellen White described Adam and Eve before they sinned: “The sinless pair wore no artificial garments; they were clothed with a covering of light and glory, such as the angels wear. So long as they lived in obedience to God, this robe of light continued to enshroud them” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 45). Indeed, angelic beings in the Bible are described as wearing white raiment (Matt. 28:3; Mark 16:5; John 20:12; Acts 1:10). (Do sinless beings always “shine”?) So what happened to that which clothed Adam and Eve’s nakedness?

It turns out that there is a feature of human skin that provides a basis for their having had “garments of light.” Fluorescence and Phosphorescence are found in human skin. Dermatologists have found that there are cells in human skin that are capable of fluorescence and phosphorescence. “Cells with autofluorescent granules are common in the dermal connective tissue of human skin. The cytoplasmic granules appear to be of lipo-pigment nature. The cells show phagocytic properties and it can therefore not be excluded that the cytoplasmic granular structures are ingested material. There are certain similarities between the observed dermal auto fluorescent cells (DAF-cells) and chromatophores (melanophages) of the dermis” (Gunnar D. Bloom and E. Martin Ritzion, “Autofluorescent granules in cells of human dermis,” Zeitschrif Zellforschung und Mikrospokische Anatomie [Stockholm, Sweden, January 31, 1964], vol. 61, is. 6, pp. 841-854, available at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/q567n05868276n2r, accessed 1/10/13).

Human skin contains cells called fluorophores (which include aromatic amino acids such as tryptophan and tyrosine, collagen and elastin, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, porphyrins, and flavins) that give the epidermis the capacity to fluoresce or to reflect light, usually in the presence of certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light. Skin cells also show the capacity to phosphoresce or produce light. This process is a measure of a person’s general health or responsiveness to certain types of treatment. The effect can be increased or decreased by the use of certain chemicals and drugs (Robert Gillies, George Zonios, R. Rox Anderson, and Nikiforos Kollias, “Fluorescence Excitation Spectroscopy Provides Information About Human Skin In Vivo,” Journal of Investigative Dermatology [2000], vol. 115, pp. 704-707; doi:10.1046/j.1523-1747.2000.00091.x, available at: http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v115/n4/pdf/5600851a.pdf, accessed 1/10/13).

The skin color of the face is hard to reproduce, as photographers and artists well know. When people are happy and their face is beaming, there may be something more to it than just a happy smile! When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the second set of tables of stone, the skin of his face shone so brightly that he had to cover it with a vail (Exod. 34:29, 35)! Human skin apparently has the capacity both to intensely reflect and produce light, though the activating energy to shine brightly may be lacking. While the discovery of the skin’s ability to fluoresce and phosphoresce does not prove that Adam and Eve’s “garments of light” were the glowing of their skin, such clothing is compatible with the concept.