“We all make many mistakes. If people never said anything wrong, they would be perfect and able to control their entire selves, too. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can control their whole bodies. Also a ship is very big, and it is pushed by strong winds. But a very small rudder controls that big ship, making it go wherever the pilot wants. It is the same with the tongue. It is a small part of the body, but it brags about great things. A big forest fire can be started with only a little flame. And the tongue is like a fire. It is a whole world of evil among the parts of our bodies. The tongue spreads its evil through the whole body. The tongue is set on fire by hell, and it starts a fire that influences all of life. People can tame every kind of wild animal, bird, reptile, and fish, and they have tamed them, but no one can tame the tongue. It is wild and evil and full of deadly poison. We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself.”—James 3:1-9 (NCV)
“One reason a dog is such a lovable creature is his tail wags instead of his tongue.”—Unknown
I have brilliant friends. I love that. I know lately I have referenced one in particular, but he’s smart…and spiritual. What can I say? And to be honest, as I’m in what I call “Wife Curriculum Class” (you have no idea…whew!), I am glad that it was a man who brought this to my attention.
This past Sabbath, my love brother, Joey and I were doing what we often do: talking spirituality. Since he was led to kick off a 21-day “Fast Forward” fast (Matthew 17:20-22), it has been mind-blowing, the many revelations those of us partaking have been receiving. Well, on this day, he was sharing with me something he heard:
“In the Garden (of Eden) where does it say that God told the Woman not to touch of the fruit?”
Yeah. It was random, but that’s kind of how we roll. I’m use to our pace of conversation and similar to when Christ asked questions while on the earth, I knew he had a deeper point. I jumped right in.
“Huh? I’m sure he did…let me look it up…hmm…OK, let me check out a few translations.”
Basically, this is all that I found:
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.’”—Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV)
I looked in the NIV, the NCV, even the ones that tend to be a bit more wordy like the Amplified and Message Versions and you know what? Nothing about not touching the fruit could be found. That had me stumped for a moment.
Now, I’m sure what some of you are thinking. How can you eat something without touching it? Who knows what the Lord shared with the Woman before he brought her to Adam (Genesis 2:22)? Does this all even really matter? Well, I’ve been mulling over this for some days and the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:12) has not given me any peace in not penning this message and so yes…I think it does.
There’s something really dangerous in engaging serpents; what is considered, in this biblical account, to be the devil (Genesis 3:1-5) but the dictionary also defines as “a wily, treacherous, or malicious person”. A wily person is someone who is crafty or cunning. This means that they also tend to be deceptive, intriguing, shrewd, smooth, streetwise and underhanded. When it comes to dealing with this kind of spirit, the Word is pretty clear: “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7-NKJV) and the times when you are “caught off guard” (crafty people tend to be really good with timing), we are to be WISE AS SERPENTS and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16). I read the interaction between the serpent and the Woman over and over and what really struck me in Genesis 3:1 was this:
The NKJV: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
The NIV: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The Amplified: “Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?”
The NASB: “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
The Message: “Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”
No matter what translation you read, it appears that the serpent was seeking for clarity on exactly what it was God said and the only account of the instruction that was given is that God said not to eat of the fruit. OK, but what did the Woman say? I’ll take from the Amplified on this:
“And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.
But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, for God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity.”—Genesis 3:2-5 (AMP)
Now here’s where it might get a bit touchy, especially for some of the ladies, but I hope you’ll listen…to exactly what I’m saying (wink). I think there are a myriad of reasons why the serpent chose the Woman as the one he would tempt, but one of the main ones is because we were created to help (Genesis 2:18). We are nurturers. We are mothers. We like to go “above and beyond”. We try and not listen to just what is said (catch that), but interpret what was meant. We feel words. We don’t just hear them. We, as one article said on women and listening, LISTEN FOR UNSPOKEN THINGS. In this case, I’m not sure that’s so much of a good thing. When it comes to dealing with the serpent spirit, period, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
When I jumped a few verses up, I thought about something Adam said after partaking of the forbidden fruit, that sends many women to seething. When God asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked? Did you eat fruit from the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11-NCV), Adam replied with, “You gave this woman to me and she gave me the fruit from the tree, so I ate it.” (verse 12)
Now why do we tend to get so upset when we recall that account? Is that not true what Adam said? After all, he didn’t decide that he needed a helpmate. THE LORD DID. So is it that we are listening literally to what Adam said or are we interpreting something into what he meant (“Oh, now he wants to blame us? We were created to bless him!”)? Like the Woman did concerning God while talking to the serpent at the tree? Hmph.
As I prayed and thought and prayed some more, I came to these conclusions: the serpent knew exactly what he was doing in posing a question to the Woman. He knew her “helping spirit” wanted to “clear things up”. But the truth is, she didn’t owe anyone an explanation. God spoke it and it was so and she and her covenant partner were in agreement. That was all that mattered. The other thing is that because we can only assume that she received her instructions from her husband, Adam (since it’s only recorded that this instruction was given to him by God), in preparation for the priest of my own home, it showed me that there are times when what was said, verbatim, should be enough.
Because as a woman (and I’m not speaking for all, but I’m sure most are wired this way), I know that I have a tendency to exaggerate, even in my emotional processing of things. I will never forget an ex reaching out after reading my book to tell me that he loved me and he was sorry. THAT IS WHAT HE SAID. I decided that he meant that he regretted breaking up with me and wanted to get back together. Two years of pure emotional drama (and trauma) followed. All because I took it upon myself to interpret what he meant, rather than just take him at his word; his literal words. The Woman was tempted by a piece of fruit. I was burned by an old flame. Do you think the spirit behind both situations were any different?
“Do I understand that God told you not to eat from any tree in the garden?”
“Why would he contact you and say he loved you if he didn’t?”
And just like my trillionth great-grandmother Eve, here I go trying to provide an explanation to a spirit that 1) I’m sure heard exactly what was said before either one of us were approached by him and 2) knew that we wouldn’t feel right unless we were helping…even if that meant helping the serpent…even if that meant engaging him to the point of falling into his trap. Because after all, he seeks for who he can devour. He’s the ultimate opportunist. But to succeed, he needs an opportunity. This is why the Word instructs us to be steadfast in the faith (I Peter 5:8-9) and how does that happen? Not in interpreting feelings, but by HEARING THE WORD OF GOD (Romans 10:17). No more, no less.
Oh, I hope you get what I’m trying to communicate. When I read accounts of how the Enemy, another form of the serpent, approached Christ, again, while it was not in question form, per se, he did speak in the way that he hoped would encourage our Lord to engage him. IF you are the Son of God, turn these stones to bread. IF you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. He even quoted scripture back to Christ (cunning, indeed-Matthew 4:1-11). But how did Christ respond? He didn’t spend time engaging the serpent. He didn’t make time to get into the battle of wits with him. He spoke the Word, what was written, what was said. THAT WAS ALL. And what happened as a direct result? Matthew 4:11 (NKJV) says, “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
In dealing with the serpent spirit in modern times, what again does the Word say in James 4:7? Submit to God. Resist the devil. HE WILL FLEE. I’m speaking more to the ladies, although on some levels this applies to all, but when the Enemy comes at you with his crafty approaches, there are only two things we need to do:
Submit to God (and if you are married, that would include the authority that the Lord has put into place-Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18).
Resist the devil. To resist is “to strive to fend off or offset the actions, effects, or force of”; “to remain firm against the actions, effects, or force of; withstand”; “to keep from giving in to or enjoying”. In other words, we are to refrain from conversing with him, we should repel his deceptive attempts at striking our hearts (our emotions), we should resist engaging him in any way. We need to speak the Word that has been given. That is all. That is how Christ modeled we can get him to flee. Anything more simply provides the Enemy with more avenues to get us on the exit of some form of destruction.
We all have our “fruit of knowledge of good and evil” of choice. In marriage?
Your husband says new living room furniture is not in the budget and here comes the serpent spirit with, “Did he say you couldn’t get a whole set or just one piece?”
Your husband comes home and asks for a few minutes to deprogram and the serpent spirit comes with, “Did he just say he didn’t want to spend any time with you?”
Your husband has a big project and he’s working late and the serpent spirit comes with, “Did you just hear a woman’s voice in the background?”
Don’t engage that spirit. Be wise and the Word says that to get wisdom and an understanding of the Holy One, we must fear the Lord (Proverbs 9:10). Discernment and emotionalism are not necessarily synonymous. The heart is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). The Word of God is the only thing that will stand. STAND ON IT. The Enemy doesn’t create anything new. He saw what worked for Eve: getting her to engage him by discussing not just what the Lord said, but what she believed he meant in what he said. Why would he stop the formula now?
The truth is, he won’t.
So, coming full circle, should the Woman have touched the fruit? Well, I’ll say this, I am refraining from certain things myself because if I touched it, I’m sure I would want to fully partake. But I don’t get into it with the Enemy about that. When I’m tempted, I leave it at, “The Bible says not to fornicate.” (Hebrews 13:4) It’s when I try and determine, “Now does than include fondling? Oral sex? What?” that I find myself right in front of my own tree trying to pull apart and add on to what the Word says.
Nah. I’m too wise for that.
Wise as a serpent now. One up, actually because I’m also made in the God’s image.
There’s no further explanation needed. The Word made me and the instructions that I’ve been given. It speaks for itself (John 1:1)
Time to break this generational curse and disengage. Emotionally and verbally.
With my thoughts and (the overuse) of my tongue.
That’s how I can really help.
Amen. And amen.
©Shellie R. Warren/2010