December 18 I Tuesday
“Now the snake was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.” —Genesis 3:1
In the first two chapters of Genesis, we read that everything God created was good: the light, the sky, the sea, the plants, planets, animals and human beings. All was good, but in the third chapter, we are introduced to a serpent that is clearly possessed by something evil.
We know from the New Testament that demons can inhabit animals. A herd of pigs threw themselves over a cliff while under demonic control, so it is perfectly possible that an evil spirit took over a snake in the Garden of Eden. But this was not just any evil spirit; it was the devil, who is known throughout Scripture for his deceit. Paul tells us that Satan “masquerades as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), and John calls him “that ancient snake, who is the devil, or Satan” (Revelation 20:2). We see here the subtlety of Satan, sometimes disguising himself through beauty, other times by diminishing himself to avoid suspicion.
Some of us may wonder why Satan didn’t appear to Eve with dazzling lights as the angels did over Bethlehem. A mighty appearance like that would have been very convincing, but perhaps Satan appeared as a snake because he wanted Eve to think she could handle him. There is a hierarchy to the universe, with God supreme over all, followed by the angels, then us and then the animal kingdom. God gave humankind dominion over the animals, so by appearing as a snake, a beast beneath Eve, Satan probably hoped she would underestimate him.
The same is true of temptation. When we are tempted, it rarely begins with obvious sins. Instead, most temptations start with little choices, little lies, a quick unkind thought or extra glance that make us think, “This isn’t so bad. I don’t need to go beyond this.” The devil would have us believe we are in control of how far we can be tempted because this is when we are most likely to make gradual steps of “Just a little farther and I’ll be satisfied.” The slide into sin may begin with small temptations, but it always escalates.
When Satan tempted Eve, it seemed like a casual conversation about whether a particular fruit was safe to eat, a conversation she probably thought she could handle. Only after eating the fruit would Adam and Eve realize this casual conversation was the most crucial battle in which they would ever engage. The subtlety of Satan is his strength, and the same is true for us and temptation. Small temptations give way to larger, and no matter how strong we think we are, sin will catch us out if our strength to resist is not rooted in the Lord.
Prayer: Almighty God, I know that Satan is a real and dangerous threat in our world. Help me recognize the subtlety of temptation for what it is and resist it. Thank You, Lord.