First, let’s identify who we’re dealing with here. The serpent in this account is none other than Satan, the fallen angel we profiled in our previous study. Revelation 12:9 makes this clear:
“So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the _________ and __________, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Satan approached humanity with the intent to deceive, thus he is called “cunning.” The target of his deception is the human mind and his subject is the character of God. First, he suggests that God is restrictive: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’”
Actually, God said no such thing. He had, in fact, framed the human situation as one of expansive freedom with a minor restriction, and that only for the protection of humanity from harmful consequences (Genesis 2:16). Satan came along and subtly reframed God’s word to convey the idea of total restriction with freedom dropped completely from the picture. Secondly, Satan portrayed God as untrustworthy, as a liar: “You will not surely die.” God says you will, but you won’t. Thirdly—and this is the bottom line of the deception—Satan painted God as self-serving, suggesting that He holds a monopoly on a higher state of being that humanity might access if God weren’t keeping it for Himself: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The crucial point to grasp is that the sin-problem began with deception regarding the kind of person God is. Essentially Satan denied that “God is love” and misrepresented the Creator as a selfish tyrant, which brings us to the relational aspect of the Fall.
A Relational Fall
Once the primal lie was received into the mind, or believed, relational breakdown immediately followed. Continuing in the Genesis account:
“So when the woman _____ that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she ______ of its fruit and _____. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were __________, and they ________ that they were _________; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife _____ themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The _________ whom _______ gave to be with me, _____ gave me of the tree, and I ate’” (Genesis 3:6-12).
First, we see that the vertical relationship was broken: God and humanity were separated. Because they no longer believed in the integrity of God’s love, they ceased to trust God and ventured out in self-preserving rebellion against Him. Then, as a direct result, the horizontal relationship between human beings fell apart. When given a chance to take responsibility, the new natural impulse was to defend self by casting blame on one another, and ultimately on God. Once they crossed this line, an immediate sense of nakedness, or guilt, came upon them because now they were living the lie and moving behaviorally in violation against the very design of their nature, a design that dictated that they live in relational love and trust, which were now broken.
A Moral Fall
Paul gives us a clear understanding of what sin is when he says: