Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

Part 1

The Path of Delusion

By Rayola Kelley

      It is hard to believe that our lives are made up of choices. We fail to recognize such a reality because even our inaction is a choice and so is every other action or response. We make choices without even knowing it because it is natural for us to do so. The only time we are aware of choices is when we have some decision to make, or some contrast in which we must weigh a matter in order to come to a conclusion.

      The question is, if we naturally make decisions, what influences them? I have had to consider this many times during my Christian walk because choices create their own current that can quickly take us into rough waters. Sadly, when we find ourselves in rough waters, we look around to find an excuse and an escape without figuring out what got us in that predicament in the first place. Granted there are outside reasons for why we might be in a situation but we still must acknowledge that we are making some type of choice or decision as to how to react or respond to it, which will determine if we head into smooth waters or towards a waterfall.

      Let’s consider some of the choices that were obvious in the Bible. The first one we have to consider up front is God’s choice to create man from the dust and form him in a state of innocence along with the free will to choose. We see that choice was centered in the creation of man. It is also centered as to who man decides to become. Adam was created out of the dust of the earth to identify him to creation, but he was formed in such a way that he could house the very breath of God so that he could become a spiritual man who could interact with his Creator in a personal and intimate way.

      God’s choice had purpose behind it. He knew the beginning to the end and the in-between of what would take place. The biggest reason for failure when it comes to choices is that man fails to see beyond the present in light of future possibilities and consequences. The lack of foresight about such matters reveals two things about such an individual—he, or she, lacks the wisdom of hindsight (past lessons learned) that enable him or her to discern the present in order to use discretion which affects the future.     

      There are many who would have us believe that the environment defines us. To some extent that is true, but we still have a choice as to whether we define how the environment is going to affect us. We can always find our excuses for why we make the wrong choices but the main reason we make the wrong choices is because we can, and we prefer to do so (John 3:19-21). 

      If you don’t believe me, let us go back to the Garden of Eden. God set the first man in a perfectly designed garden that encouraged sweet fellowship. Imagine walking with the Lord in the cool of the evening and enjoying who He was in a time of communion in the midst of paradise. Man had dominion over creation and all he had to do was walk with the Lord and enjoy what his Creator had provided for him (Genesis 1:26; 3:8).

      This brings us to the next choice which rests with man. Man had it all, relationship with God, living in paradise, dominion over his world, and all of his needs met. However, he had something else, he had a contrast that would eventually end with him making a choice. It is important to point out that wherever there is a contrast, it points to some type of test, and passing or failing it depends on the choice that is ultimately made.

      This brings up a very vital point. Isaiah 45:7 states, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” People have a hard time believing a holy God would create evil, but He is the One who created the source of evil in the first garden that contained the seeds of death. God will never tempt us to do evil but it is clear He has created both darkness and evil to bring forth a clear contrast between light of what is morally good and delightful and darkness as to the ways of darkness and destruction. It is man who will choose between the two choices based on his character (James 1:13). As previously stated, without contrast, there would be no need for choice and no means to test the hearts and faith of people. If man is going to have a choice, there must be options from which to choose. His heart, character, and attitude will determine what he chooses, which will reveal his true inward state. 

      We see that even the angels had a choice as to whom they would serve. Ezekiel 28:13-19 gives us insight about Lucifer. He started out as an anointed cherub who was perfect in his ways until iniquity was found in him. His heart was lifted up against God because of his beauty and he chose to rebel and took a third of the stars (angels) with him (Revelation 12:14).

      There are a couple of things we need to consider. Even in the state of perfection, the angels had a choice. When Lucifer made the wrong choice, he fell from a state of perfection into the unredeemable state of complete evilness. Man, who was created in innocence, fell into a fallen state from which he could be redeemed. We now must choose between the ways of life or death, light or darkness, righteousness or wickedness, good or evil. In our present state, we can’t imagine being in a perfect state like the fallen angels were and making the wrong choice, but the angels who remain in their perfect state desire to look into the matter of our redemption (1 Peter 1:12). It is the right choices that bring a believer to great perfection or maturity in his or her Christian walk. These steps will lead them to their destination where in due time they can realize the fullness of their redemption (Ephesians 1:10-14).

      The second thing we must note is that Ezekiel 28:13 states that Lucifer was in the Garden of Eden. Some people believe this to be the mount of God or Zion, but when we consider the story of the Garden of Eden, Satan was in that garden in the serpent, and the Bible says of the serpent that he was more, “subtil than any beast of the field” (Genesis 3:1).

      Some people wonder why God gave man a choice. The reason is simple, man must choose whether he is going to love and serve God or whether he is going to give some type of lip service while serving his personal interests. We see through Scriptures that people are very quick to give such lip services, but choices eventually reveal their true character (Matthew 15:8-9).

      The first man had a choice between two types of trees (Genesis 2:9). There were many trees in the garden, but there were only two trees that would impact and change the dynamics of Adam’s existence. This is true for us as well. There may be many things in this world to choose from, but what we must note is that which can change the quality of our life.

      Adam had a choice between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil that stood in the midst of the garden. They were in the center reminding us that we will encounter such choices in the midst of the normal activities of our life. These trees were noted because they were distinct and would determine the state in which he would live his life. This brings us to another aspect of choices: our decisions are based on our spiritual state and will often reinforce it. The question is what was the state of Adam and Eve?

      As stated above, they both were created in an innocent state but fell into a fallen state because of their choices. Since Eve gets the most blame for the great fall of man in the garden, let us consider her state first to see why she went wrong and where she went wrong. The reason I say this is because most people take teachings on the fall of man and make it a finger-pointing session just as Adam did in the garden, rather than coming to terms with the important examples we have concerning temptation and sin.

      To understand Eve’s great debacle, we need to understand how the enemy works. Satan lies in wait until the right opportunity presents itself. We are not told as to whether Eve was casually walking by the tree of knowledge of good and evil or whether she was seeking out Adam or some other tree. We are not given any real details, but what we can surmise is that she was probably minding her own business when she walked by the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She may have been thinking about something else, but the key here is that Satan no doubt was lying in wait in that tree. He was waiting for someone to walk by who was vulnerable, unprepared, and innocent enough to get caught up with his lies.

      Most of the time we fall into some temptation during times when, for the most part, we are minding our own business. We are not paying attention, which means we are not on guard or paying heed to our surroundings. We need to recognize vulnerable areas in our inner character and outward life that Satan can subtly use to somehow get our attention.

      This is what he did with Eve. He caught her attention with the question, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Eve’s first response should have been to flee from the serpent and seek out and draw near to God. Instead she stopped to interact with the serpent. This is the second wrong choice. In the first scenario, it was inaction that initially set her up. This is true for most of us. When we fail to quickly respond the right way towards temptation, we give our enemy time to make inroads into our lives with his lies. This opens us up to interact with the enemy.

      The question seemed simple enough, but the one thing you must keep in mind at all times about Satan is that he is a liar and can’t be reasoned with by the truth. Granted, he ultimately must and will submit to the authority and truth of God’s Word, but you can’t reason with a liar. Satan can’t be converted; rather, he is out to seduce, indoctrinate, and destroy any faith you have towards God in order to kill any viable testimony you may possess and ultimately destroy your soul.

      We understand Satan’s pattern because of this incident in the garden. He must first attack God’s Word because it represents His authority (Genesis 3:1). “Did God say?” will often put confusion in a person, while opening the door of temptation. The first thing we must note is that God did not say they could not eat of it because if they chose to do so, they could; rather, He commanded that they not eat of it because of the ultimate consequences it would bring upon them. God does not keep us from the best; rather, he steers us towards that which ensures the excellent benefits of the life He has promised us.

      This brings us to Eve’s response (Genesis 3:2-3). She admitted that she was not to eat of the tree because it would result in death, but she also added that they were not to touch it. In our need to take a point of defense, we can sometimes add to something that will, in a sense, weaken our stand and bring more confusion. God’s Word does not need defense or explanation because it means what it means. The main point was not to eat of it because that is what would bring the consequences of death upon them.

      Once confusion comes in, then the lie can be sown. “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3:4). Since God really doesn’t mean what He says, God’s character comes into question, and since He doesn’t mean what He says His warnings do not need to be taken seriously. The logic is, “Surely He will overlook such a small infraction.” However, what people fail to realize is, it is not the size of the infraction that matters, it is the fact that such an infraction carries the seeds of death. This is true of all sin. It carries the seeds of death, and whether it affects us like arsenic where it slowly robs us of life, or kills us all of a sudden if we have a big enough dose and everything in us shuts down, it still results in death unless action is taken to counteract it. I praise God it was provided through Jesus. He is our antidote.

      In the beginning of her temptation, we see that Eve chooses to interact with the serpent and secondly, she decided to give his presentation weight by listening to it. This set her up for the final temptation where God’s intention is brought into question. As you can see, it begins with putting doubt on His Word as to its credibility. The next part of the temptation is where His character is brought into question, that surely, He must be exaggerating or lying, and the final assault is against His intention.

       Jeremiah 29:11 gives us this insight into God’s intentions, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” God who is holy can’t possess anything that is not pure and He only operates from what is transparent and upright.

      Satan’s first question to Eve put her on the defense, causing her to set the record straight, while setting her up to fall into his trap. His second maneuver was simple, he simply changed the truth of the matter with an outright lie and he proved it with a half-truth by throwing doubt on God’s real intention. Consider what he said, “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5).  

      Since Adam and Eve had a contrast of two trees representing right and wrong, they also had an awareness that there was good (right) and evil (wrong). Satan touted that God did not want them to know the difference because it would make them like Him. Keep in mind, God knew good and evil, but He never had to experience it to understand it. Knowing the difference between good and evil is all that is needed to avoid the pitfalls of evil, but the temptation was to partake of and experience evil in the form of rebellion to be like God. Satan was saying that it is by experiencing evil that one becomes like God, but that is the biggest lie of all. Experiencing evil is what will bring separation between God and man. It will rob man of innocence, bringing a feeling of shame upon his soul, and causing him to hide in the darkness of it from a Holy God.

      It was after Satan brought a reproach on God’s intention that Eve considered the tree. At this time the possibility of her being like God tantalized her pride enough for her to consider that such a notion could be true, causing the tree and its fruit to be suddenly magnified in her mind. Once something is magnified in our mind, it can catch our eye, and if it seems pleasant to the eye then one can conclude it will be pleasant to the taste, and partaking of it will bring the desired result to the flesh.

      People find themselves either falling into Satan’s traps or walking into them. For Eve, she fell into it. When confronted about her actions, Eve stated that the serpent had beguiled her and as a result she did eat. Some people say that Eve was not telling the truth, but in actuality that is exactly what happened to her. She was subtly ensnared into a trap of seduction and then beguiled which means thoroughly provoked to partake of the tree,

      The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Timothy 2:14, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.“ He also made this statement in 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”  Paul is clear that Eve was found in transgression because she was deceived. He also made it clear the she was beguiled through subtility of her mind.

      It is important to recognize how Satan entraps you. He will try to put you on the defense by defending the truth. The truth never needs to be defended, it stands alone and we are to stand on it. It is natural to use logic, but there is no reasoning with Satan because he is a liar and is bent on changing one’s reality and he starts by confusing the truth. From there he complicates everything by bringing in one’s motives and intentions, shrouding what is simply right and wrong and seducing one into another reality. From the platform of seduction, the possibilities of experiencing something of such significance that any wrong with its consequences will pale in light of the final results. At this point, the pursuit becomes a relentless obsession, clearly provoked to such incredible heights that one finds self being consumed by the false utopia created by the possibilities.

      As you can see, Eve did not decide to walk in the garden to be deceived, but her great failure happened with her making one wrong choice after the other. She became caught up with a demonic current that ushered her into a delusion that ended with her transgressing the commandment of God. Each choice seemed insignificant in and of itself, but each one was a stepping stone to the next step of delusion.

      We can see what Eve did wrong and become critical of her, but the point is how many of us have found ourselves in a similar current at one time or another? I am thankful that God promised a way out to Eve and provided it for us. We know the solution was the seed of woman, the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Next month we will consider Adam’s choices. Eve fell into sin because of delusion, but Adam walked into it with his eyes wide open. Paul made that clear in 1 Timothy 2:14a, “And Adam was not deceived.” The question is what happened to Adam and what reason did he have for making the wrong choice that would end in the spiritual death of all of his descendants?