Satan procured the downfall of humankind using the same motivation that caused his own downfall—and tempted Adam and Eve into disobedience and rebellion. Satan told them that if they ate, they would be “like God, knowing good and evil.” This motivated them to pride–they would not need God anymore, so they were banned from the Garden.
It’s good to be with you again as we continue to study together the eternal, universal law that’s summed up in the title for my talks this week, “Pride vs. Humility.”
This law is summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:12:
“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (NIV)
In my previous talks we’ve looked at the first occasion in the history of the universe that the operation of this law was demonstrated. That was the fall of Lucifer. We looked in the record given in Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14. We saw how this unbelievably wise and beautiful cherub, who had a special place of honor in heaven, became proud because of his beauty and his wisdom which were imparted to him by the Creator, and pride led to rebellion. And he fostered rebellion amongst the one-third of the created angels that were under his personal charge and ultimately persuaded them to unite with him in rebellion against God. His motive was to exalt himself and to make himself equal with God Himself. So here he is, the first demonstration of this eternal immutable law, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled.” Satan reached up, he slipped, and he fell. And all his angels fell with him. And instead of being Lucifer, the bright shining, glorious one, he became Satan, the adversary, the resister, the enemy of God and of man.
In my talk yesterday I pointed out certain unique features that marked out the creature that was destined by God to take Satan’s place, Lucifer’s place. This creature was man, Adam. He was created by God with the very intent that the mode of his creation would undercut the tendency to pride in the creature. I pointed out certain unique features that single out man, or Adam, from all other creatures—five of them. First of all, man was designed for a person to person relationship with God as a person. Secondly, in creating man, or Adam, God had to stoop. He stooped to mold the body of clay and then He stooped still lower to breathe into those lips and nostrils of clay. Thirdly, God imparted Himself to man. He breathed into man His own divine eternal breath, His Spirit. Fourthly, man combines in himself both the highest and the lowest; the highest—the breath that came from God, the lowest—the dust. And fifthly, man has a dual relationship. Through his spirit he can relate to God. Through his body he relates to the world, the world of dust from which he was taken.
Today we’re going to look at the great tragedy of human history, the fall of man.
Satan, the already fallen angel, the enemy of God and of man, had special enmity against man for two reasons. First of all, he could attack God’s image in man. You see, man in a special way visibly represented God to the rest of creation. Satan could not touch God Himself, but he made war against the very image of God in man. His delight was to defile it, to destroy it, to humiliate it and to that end he worked.
The second reason that Satan had special enmity against man was that man was destined to take Satan’s place of dominion and so, from the moment of man’s creation, Satan saw in him his rival whom he needed to eliminate.
Now, Satan procured man’s downfall through the same motivation that caused his own downfall. This is described in Genesis 3:1–5, where in the form of the serpent, Satan came into the garden where God had placed Adam with Eve, and tempted them into disobedience and rebellion. This is what the record says, Genesis 3:1–5:
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’’ ‘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.’” (NIV)
Alas, we’re familiar with the record that Eve was persuaded by the temptation of Satan, the serpent, reached out her hand, took the fruit, and persuaded her husband to join her in disobedience. I want to point out to you now three specific phases of temptation, the way that Satan came against Adam and Eve to persuade them to rebel.
His first attack was directed against God’s Word as He had left it with Adam and Eve. God had said to Adam, “Thou shalt not eat of the tree for the day that thou eatest, thou shalt surely die.” Satan’s first approach was to question God’s Word. He said to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” He was too subtle to begin with a direct denial so he began with a question. His motive was to discredit God’s word. When Eve entertained the question, then he proceeded to discredit God Himself.
Verses 4 and 5: “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.” You see the thrust of that statement. The implication was that God was an arbitrary tyrant who had created Adam and Eve and was keeping them in a position that was lower than they deserved, that they had in them potentials and ability to become something much higher but that God was keeping them in arbitrary and unreasonable subjection. In other words, having discredited God’s Word, Satan then proceeded to discredit God’s character. He wanted to give them a false picture of a loving and gracious Creator. He wanted to paint Him as a kind of arbitrary despot having discredited the Word of God and the very character of God Himself.
Then, Satan offered to Adam and Eve the very same motivation that had caused his own fall which was equality with God. He said, “When you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” In other words, you won’t need to depend any longer on God. You’ll have enough knowledge in yourself that you’ll be equal with God. See, exactly the same temptation that impelled his fall—“I will make myself like the Most High,” he had said. Now he says to Adam and Eve, “You will be like God.” In other words, this position of subjection and dependence that you’re in isn’t worthy of you; you’re capable of higher. Reach up; reach out for knowledge and that will set you free from this slavish dependence on your Creator.
Now I want to point out to you seven results of Adam’s fall, just giving them to you in a list. First, Adam’s direct fellowship with God was broken. You remember the primary purpose of his creation was for fellowship with the Creator, but when rebellion and sin came in, that fellowship was broken.
Second, Adam’s life source was cut off. He was like a battery that was charged but could not be recharged. The initial inbreathing of divine life kept him alive for many hundreds of years but he was cut off from the source of recharge and so ultimately he had to die.
Third, Adam became subject to what the Bible calls corruption which is sickness, old age, death, wrinkles, pains, diseases.
Fourthly, Adam became subject to satanic harassment, to the activity of demons. Up to that time he’d lived in a world that no satanic influence could penetrate. But now, from this time onward, the whole human race was subject to the harassment—satanic, demonic influences.
Fifthly, Adam became a slave instead of a king. He had been created to rule on behalf of God. He was to rule on God’s behalf the whole earth, but when he lost his position of dependence on God, then he no longer ruled but he became a slave—a slave to sin, a slave to Satan, a slave to corruption, sickness, and death.
Sixthly, Adam’s whole realm became subject to vanity or futility. There was a change in the whole realm of creation over which God had placed Adam. His fall affected all that was under him just as the fall of Lucifer had affected all the angels under him, so the fall of Adam affected the whole creation under him. The creation became subject to vanity, to futility, to decay. Things that had never rotted, things that had never died, things that had never suffered began to rot, to suffer, to decay, to die—the animal creation, the vegetable creation, all around, the result of Adam’s fall. His realm became subject to vanity.
Seventhly, Adam became identified with Satan in the guilt of rebellion. Satan had made a convert. He had long been a rebel but now there was another rebel band to join him, the Adamic race.
You see, as we sum it up and look at it, Adam repeated Satan’s error. He was created on a certain level, a level that was blessed, appointed and ordained of God. But through pride, he reached up, he reached up for equality with God. And reaching up, he fell. Remember, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled.”