Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said…
I invite you to notice how exactly parallel the temptation of the second Adam was to the temptation of the first. This cannot fail to concern us very greatly: for it is a clear intimation, afforded us by the person best qualified to make it, viz., by the devil, of our special liability, through certain avenues of choice, to fall away from God.
1. We are to note that the rebellion of the lower appetites against the powers of reason and the dictates of conscience, must be the prevailing form of human sin: for it was the seductiveness of the fruit of one particular tree which originally moved our first mother to disobey. And this is what the beloved disciple calls "the lust of the flesh."
2. There is the illusion produced in our higher nature when outward things are seen otherwise than in the light of God. Eve was seduced by the prospect of enlarged views, and the promise that her eyes should be opened. And this is that "lust of the eyes" of which the same apostle speaks.
3. There is the spiritual snare of becoming to oneself the highest object, the standard to which all other things are to be referred. Man thus becomes a god to himself, and straightway directs his proceedings by reference to himself instead of to God. And to this, Eve's desires tended when her pride (that special work of the devil) was called forth by the representation "ye shall be as gods." St. John calls this the "pride of life."..."God doth know" (said the tempter) "that in the day ye eat thereof" — here was the first seduction: "your eyes shall be opened" — there was the second: "and ye shall be as gods" — there was the third. Accordingly, it was "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," that "she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat." How exactly in our Lord's case Satan addressed himself to the same three instincts, seeking first to inspire sensual distrust; next spiritual presumption; lastly worldly ambition; needs hardly to be pointed out. The order of the last two temptations was however inverted in the case of the second Adam. And why? I presume because the first of the three temptations had been resisted. Accordingly, from the seduction of sensuality the transition is made at once to the seduction of pride, these being the two extremes between which the fallen nature of man oscillates continually. Let us further note, in both cases (in paradise, I mean, and in the wilderness), that the instrument with which the reason is plied is still the same, namely, calumnious insinuation. A misrepresentation of the truth, and that couched in the modest form of an inquiry, was the tempter's device. He at first asserted nothing. He asked, as if for information. He might have known, he did know, the truth...I am much mistaken if something very similar to this is not Satan's method still. "It is most important to observe this first origin of evil. It is in the form of a question. It is not a direct denial of God's truth or faithfulness, but a questioning of it. Because faith in God is the foundation of all good, it is to unsettle the foundation that this attempt is made. The poison is inserted in the way the question is stated. Thus also in dealing with our Divine Lord, Satan begins with a like questioning of what God had just declared. 'If Thou be,' which implies, 'Art Thou then indeed the Son of God?'" And next, he insinuated what he dared not openly to proclaim: for by calumniously imputing to God a base motive for withholding the fruit of the one forbidden tree, he misrepresented God's whole nature. But he did it by insinuation. And here, again, I recognize a favourite device of the enemy of souls in these last days. And then, the point to which his seductive speech tended, was, to make the creature desire to be as God: to be himself the standard, himself supreme, himself as God unto himself. It was a suggestion that the bondage of external law should be thrown aside, and that the conscience should henceforth become a law unto itself. Further — You are invited to note how the mischief began with an attempt to tamper with God's Word. "Yea, hath God said?" But God had not said it! And then you will note that Satan beguiled Eve's understanding by the seductive avenue of an increase of knowledge in prospect...Knowledge — that first appetite of man — and his last!...And is not "knowledge" good then? Yea, surely, most good: for indeed what were life without it? But like every other creature of God, it is good only when it subordinates to God's revealed mind and will. Yet once more, and for the last time, death was the penalty of all; and yet, "Ye shall not surely die," was the promise wherewith Satan sought to silence the fears of our first mother What but that, what but the assurance "Ye shall not surely die," is Satan's cry at this very hour to a willing world?
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the serpent was more subtil 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?
WEB: Now the serpent was more subtle than any animal of the field which Yahweh God had made. He said to the woman, "Has God really said, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?'"