By Bill Randles
From his new release (published by Lighthouse Trails), War Against the Saints
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? (Genesis 3:1)
Mankind has an adversary, a malevolent being whose goal it is to estrange man from God and disrupt the peace and communion between God and man.
In the garden of Eden, in the first book of the Bible, he is simply introduced as “the serpent,” and we are immediately impressed by the power of his subtlety. Thus, we can infer that this being was no mere snake. There is an intelligence and volition about him that mere reptiles are incapable of possessing though this malevolent being employed the serpent in his plan.
There is in Genesis no fuller introduction nor explanation as to his true identity. We would have to persevere all the way to the end of the Bible to find out the “serpent of old” was, in fact, the devil, and the ancient Satan (adversary)—a fallen angel cast out of Heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)
He asked of the woman (not the man, whom God had appointed as head), a trick question.
What was he looking for when he inquired of the first couple?
He was looking for the smallest crack or opening between the couple and their God. Was there even a slight thread of alienation in the hearts of the first man and woman?
Thus, in his opening suggestion, the serpent greatly exaggerated the prohibition of God, did God
The woman’s answer at first seemed to be adequate:
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:2)
She corrected the overstatement of the serpent, God is not that strict! He has given us freedom to eat of the trees of the garden, but . . .” She could have ended the conversation right there, but in that “. . . but . . .” she went on to reveal the slightest crack, a tiny seam of alienation of the couple from their benevolent Creator. Of course, it was nowhere near as overstated as in the serpent’s initial question. They didn’t think God was a tyrant . . . but . . .
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. (Genesis 3:3)
But what? Eve answered that God had forbidden them to eat of one tree (This was true), and furthermore He forbade them to even touch it . . . (This was false, a slight exaggeration of the strictness of God).
Next, she added a phrase which must have encouraged the serpent—“Lest ye die.”
Lest ye die?
In other words, the woman was not so sure about the divine sanction. Did God really say we would die? Or is it possible that we just might die, or that we might not die?
God had originally told Adam, (who was to pass it on to Eve) that in the day they ate of the tree in the garden they would “surely die.” It couldn’t have been said any plainer or stronger than that, for God wanted them to know what was at stake.
Here was the opening the serpent had been waiting for. The conversation with the woman revealed the estrangement (ever so slight) of the couple, maximizing the prohibition of God, yet minimizing the penalty of God and outright calling it into question.
Now the serpent knew the first couple was ready to hear the Word of God openly denied. “Ye shall not surely die.”
We see that this story is timeless and very modern, applicable to our own current situation. The serpent has long infiltrated the Christian churches and has been calling into question truths and doctrines which are obvious to any honest reader of Scripture. This is one of the ways he makes war against the saints.
The Christian teachings on marriage, gender, prohibitions against fornication, adultery, and all forms of perversion, as well as the Christian promise of Heaven to gain and Hell to be shunned, are clearly described in the Scriptures. There can be no mistaking the plain meaning of the texts.
What’s more, almost all of the horrible things I know about Hell come from the lips of Jesus Himself. The doctrine of eternal conscious punishment is so horrible, it is as though God entrusted the bulk of descriptions of hellfire to His Son alone, so that no one could say, “Paul or Peter had a lot of hang-ups. That’s why they railed about Hell!”
But Jesus is the one who taught us about “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” “outer darkness,” and an urgency to escape to the point where one would cut off his or her hand or foot to escape it!
The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. . . . So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50)
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched . . . Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. (Mark 9:43, 48-49)
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 22:13)
But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 8:12)
See how clear this teaching is? These are the words of Jesus! You wouldn’t think it possible to deny such things in church, but there are many, many pastors and teachers who do so. They have listened to the serpent and put themselves unwittingly at his disposal to help carry out his program of distorting and denying the Word of God.
My point is that we are truly engaged in a real spiritual warfare.
We have a very subtle adversary; thus, we cannot afford to loosen our grip on the Word of God and walk by the inclination of our own fallen hearts. This is the master deceiver, the one who “deceiveth the whole world.” He has tormented and taken advantage of many earnest and sincere Christians. We must put all of our trust in the Lord and His Word.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. (1 John 4:1-4)
The article above is an extract from Bill Randles’ new release (published by Lighthouse Trails), War Against the Saints.
(Photo is from the cover of War Against the Saints; original from Alamy.com; used with permission from Alamy.)