The story of Adam and Eve’s choice to disobey God in Genesis chapter three is a rich story filled with theological significance along with practical application. Upon my last reading of this story, I noticed something I had never seen before.
One of the first blunders in the story is easy to notice. Eve says in Genesis 3:3 “…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.’ ” Eve adds something that is never recorded from the mouth of God. She inserts the phrase, “and we must not touch it.” The rest of her quote is true, but for some reason, she distorts his words, not with an omission but rather an added phrase.
Then comes the part I had not noticed. The story continues in Genesis 3:6 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
Did you notice that three-word statement? She sees and understands the goodness of the fruit and then she took some. She pulled it off the tree and held it in her hand. Because of her distortion of God’s word, a subtle shift happens. If she thought she would die when she touched the fruit, then her faith was unfounded. She felt it, and nothing happened. If God was wrong about that simple first step, then he was probably wrong about everything. Her twisting of God’s word set her up for failure.
This reminds me of a passage Peter wrote to the Church where he says, “He (The Apostle Paul) writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)” They distort the scripture, other translations say, “twist,” to their own destruction.
One tiny phase composed of six words is the set up for failure. God said I should not touch it and when I did nothing terrible happened immediately. The boundary line was blurred, and the next step was outside of the will of God. Sin entered the world and death came with sin, not just for Eve, but for all of humanity.
We must be cautious with how we handle our scriptures. We must use wisdom and careful study to understand them. Adding a single phase like, “God wants me happy” or, “I can’t change” can distort God’s plan and lead us down a path that ends in destruction.
Eve’s blunder was small in its presence but large in its scope. That is the way sin and temptation work. We must be alert and not fall prey to the schemes of the devil as she did. The pain is not always immediate, but it never fails to arrive.