What Is Sin Anyhow?
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden?"'"1
Many readers will be familiar with God's test to the very first man and woman, Adam and Eve. God made it clear to them that they could eat the fruit of every tree in the Garden of Eden except for one particular tree. If they ate of this tree, they would die.2
To tempt them, Satan (appearing in the form of a serpent) said to Eve, "Did God really say that you couldn't eat of that tree?" The question seemed harmless enough but it gave an opportunity to sow a seed of doubt in Eve's mind. Tragically, Eve took the bait and the seed began to take root.
Then came Satan's lie which had in it an element of truth that made it believable and much more subtle. "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."3
To be like God is perhaps life's greatest and most subtle of all temptations.
True, Adam and Eve would be like God—only in that they would know the difference between good and evil. What Satan didn't tell them was that if they ate of the forbidden fruit, not only would they know good and evil but they would also be left forever in a confirmed state of evil and, as such, be separated from God.
However, the essence of Adam and Eve's sin was not so much taking of the forbidden fruit. It was setting themselves up as judge between God and Satan. In so doing they put themselves above God—usurping His authority. This was the sin that caused their downfall. Taking the forbidden fruit was the outcome of this action.
To make this concept clearer, picture God on one side and Satan on the other, and see Adam and Eve placing themselves above both and deciding who is right and who is wrong. Absurd, I know, but this is exactly what they did. They set themselves as the judge between God and Satan. In so doing they took the place of God.
This was the cause of Satan's downfall in the first place. He wanted to be as God and said, "I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High."4
This too is at the heart of the New Age movement whose adherents don't talk about God within but "the god" within. That is; they put themselves on an equal footing with God and usurp his authority. They appoint themselves a judge of God and His Word. We all do this when we ignore God's directives and when we decide what is right and what is wrong, and what is evil and what is good.
Furthermore, when we choose (as far too many do) what to accept in God's Word and reject what we don't like, we do exactly the same as Adam and Eve did. We set ourselves up above God and make ourselves the final voice of authority—this is at the very heart of sin.
Tomorrow we will discuss the three major aspects of sin.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to understand what sin really is, how totally devastating it is, and never usurp Your authority in my life. Be my LORD, my God and my Savior—always in all ways. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
1. Genesis 3:1 (NIV).
2. Genesis 3:2-3 (NIV).
3. Genesis 3:4-5 (NIV).
4. Isaiah 14:14 (NIV).