“Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die'” (Genesis 3:4 NKJV)
As I pondered what the serpent (Satan) said to the woman I realized that he not only contradicted what God had said to Adam boldly lying to Eve (and Adam who stood nearby and did nothing to correct him) concerning the punishment for eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the serpent also inadvertently confirmed an essential fact concerning the question of death and when it actually began.
The serpent could have simply stated that it was no big deal about dying; it has been around for millions of years. We all know we’re going to die; it’s all a part of God’s creation process. But he didn’t! He knew something to be true that many people deny today. He knew that death didn’t exist at the time of his reassuring lie he told to Eve.
Death would have been something unknown to Eve, not having been exposed to it. Not knowing about it was scary. It’s scary now that mankind is now subject to it. But the serpent’s objective was to get Eve (and Adam) to eat of the fruit of the tree. He reassured Eve that no harm would come to her if she ate of it; and in fact, she would gain knowledge and wisdom, making her like God.
Now some might say that Eve may have thought that the fruit was poisonous and she would die instantly. However, there is nothing in the historic narrative to indicate this. On the contrary, she had observed that the fruit was “good for food and pleasant to the eyes . . .” (v. 6). Would not the Lord have said so to Adam when He gave him the warning in Chapter 2? That would have been enough to keep Adam and Eve from eating of it, wouldn’t you think? He didn’t, because the fruit wasn’t poisonous. It was “good for food.”
Others may say that what Satan said doesn’t necessarily mean death didn’t exist at that time. While as a standalone statement that may be true; however, when one considers the context it becomes clear that death was not viewed as a part of the creation process, but rather a real punishment for disobeying God’s commandment (Genesis 2:17). Satan’s statement affirms that death was a punishment as he sought to persuade Eve to disobey God’s commandment. Death has always been the punishment for sin, as we are also told in Romans 6:23a. God didn’t provide death as a means for things to evolve from the amoeba to Adam; otherwise death would have been included God’s declaration in Genesis 1:31, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31 NKJ). Death has never been declared in Scripture to be good, much less, “very good.” On the contrary, Scriptures tell us that it is our “enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:53-56); and punishment for sin as previously noted.
In fact, death didn’t exist and perhaps it is because of this fact that Eve was easily persuaded by the serpent to eat. However, as she and Adam ate of it they did die and death imposed upon God’s perfect creation. Spiritual death began the moment they ate of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good of Evil. Physical death also began at the same time as a result of spiritual death. The body began the decaying process as sin brought both the body and soul of mankind into its bondage, bringing death not only to man but to all of creation from that day on.
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans Chapter 5:12-14, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (Romans 5:12-14; See also, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22)
Only in Christ is there victory over this most hated enemy of man. He defeated death by His death, suffering the punishment for sin and by His resurrection overcoming the grave with a glorified body. Jesus Christ is the Life for the sinner and the only way of reconciliation and true fellowship with God. Jesus said in John 11:25-26, “’I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (John 11:25-26). Believe in Jesus Christ and you will have everlasting life, just as He promised. Won’t you come to Him this day in repentance of your sins and in true faith, resting your hope and confidence in His one atoning work on the cross on your behalf, for the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, salvation and everlasting life? If you do, you will have victory over death, our enemy. Soi Deo Gloria!
Rev. Richard Stetler Reformation Gospel Ministries
Please email your questions to Reformation Gospel Ministries at: RefGosMin@gmail.com