I’d like to deconstruct the “sin (deception) of Eve,” specifically Genesis 3:4-5. Breaking down and analyzing these verses is, I believe, key to understanding why the female image of God has become — for the most part — a forgotten part of our spiritual inheritance.
Now we all know Eve’s mind became deceived because of the verses below:
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray.” –2 Cor. 11:3
For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. –1 Tim. 2:13–14
So as we read Genesis 3:4-5 we need to pay attention to the deception that is going to affect Eve’s mind. The serpent is going to plant a very cunning lie there:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the LORD God had made. –Gen. 3:1
The serpent is “crafty” which means his lie isn’t going to be obvious. He is going to be sly, indirect, and calculating. In other words, this serpent has planned his attack very carefully.
Crafty: clever at achieving one’s aims by indirect or deceitful methods.
Also, the deception that is going to affect Eve means that she is going to believe that something utterly false is in fact true. That’s the nature of a deception. The serpent’s subtle trickery will cause so much damage that by the end of it, Eve will have forgotten a part of herself. An essential truth will be buried and a lie will rule in its place.
Deceive: to cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid.
The verse in Genesis goes like this…
“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” –Gen. 3:4-5
Now traditionally — in regards to the “deception” of Eve — we’ve been taught one of two scenarios. The first scenario goes something like this: the serpent’s deception was that Eve would not die; therefore, when she ate the fruit, her eyes were opened and she became like God in that she now understood that both good and evil existed — and with evil came… you know — death. Therefore, Eve brought death to humanity.
The problem with this scenario is that Eve’s deception did not bring about death. Scripture tells us that Adam’s sin birthed sin/death (Rom. 5:12-14). Therefore, Eve’s deception isn’t exactly found in these words, “you will not die.” (Check out Adam & Eve 2 Different Types of Sin for more info.)
The second scenario is a bit different. In this scenario the serpent’s deception is that Eve could raise herself up to the status of God. In other words, the serpent was suggesting that God was holding out on Adam and Eve. Therefore, Eve’s desire to become “like God” was sinful/prideful and eating the fruit was her means of achieving this desire for independence from God. In the end, the eating of the fruit did indeed open Eve’s eyes. Unfortunately, it didn’t make her “like God.” Instead, eating the fruit only invited both good and evil into her life. She now “knew” evil intimately.
The problem with this scenario is that wanting to be like God isn’t actually a sin – there’s nothing wrong or deceptive about wanting to be “like God” – that’s what we were created to do. Men and women were created specifically to be like their God. There is no shame in wanting to be like God. Therefore, the deception cannot be that Eve was simply deceived into thinking she could become like God.
Why Did Eve Eat The Forbidden Fruit?
In order to begin to comprehend why Eve ate the fruit, I think it’s important to understand what Eve thought she was getting out of this deal: (1) your eyes will be opened, (2) you will be like God, (3) you will know good and evil. From this list of promises, we can gain clarity regarding Eve’s motivation as well as the subtle lies that are being planted. First, Eve is indirectly told that her eyes are blinded; hence the need for them to be opened. Second, Eve is indirectly told that she is not like God; hence the need to be like God. And third, Eve will come to know good and evil… or put another way “recognize good and evil” which Eve (wrongly) concludes is wisdom:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. –Gen. 3:6, NRSV
In the above verse, we find Eve’s inner motive for eating the fruit laid out for us. (1) the tree is good for food (2) the tree is a “delight” to her (blind) eyes and (3) the tree can help her to recognize good and evil thereby making her “wise” like her God.
The Serpent’s Lie to Eve was Threefold
Eve’s motivation for wanting to eat the fruit is good. However, eating the fruit is actually a cruel ruse since eating it will not produce any of the desired results. The serpent’s lie was a threefold attack: Eve, you are blind. Eve, you are not like God. Eve, you are not wise. According to the serpent, Eve had an identity deficiency and eating the fruit could solve all her problems:
She took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. –Gen. 3:6-7, bold added
In the above, we have Eve’s outcome of eating the fruit. Her eyes are indeed “opened” but not in the context of what she expected. Instead of feeling “wise like her God” she now feels shame, over-exposure, and a perceived “nakedness.” She now understands, without a doubt, that the deal was an evil sham. The fruit has not made her to be “like her God” and so she tells God, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13).
From this point on, the serpent’s clever deception has — like a weed — taken root in Eve’s mind. The opposite of what the serpent promised has come about and Eve is shocked to find that her eyes have opened not to wisdom but merely to the demeaning state of being naked and ashamed. The fruit, the one that only moments ago held such rich possibilities had suddenly produced a truly wretched state:
For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. –Rev. 3:17
Eve is now guilty. She is guilty for failing to adhere to God’s law. She is guilty of believing the serpent’s words over God’s law. The result, however, is not death. The result is deception. Eve has now fully embraced the serpent’s deception: Eve, you are blind. Eve, you are not like God. Eve, you are not wise. She is now most definitely “blind and naked.” But take note, Eve should not feel shame for 1) wanting to be like God or 2) wanting to be wise. There is no shame in wanting to be wise:
Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. –Prov. 4:5-7, bold added
So the truth is Eve was already like her God being one of only two God representatives in the garden. In fact, she was so much like her God that she already had the wisdom of God. Strangely enough, the exact things that Eve sought was what she already had: (1) Eve was already created to be like her God, (2) she already had God’s wisdom, and (3) she was not in a state of blindness.
How, you may ask, did Eve have God’s wisdom and why was she not blind? Easy, Eve had the “law of the Lord:”
The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the LORD are sure,
making wise the simple.
The commandment of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eyes. –Ps. 19:7-8
The “Law of the Lord” is the Wisdom of God
This one law, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die” (Gen. 2:16–17) is the wisdom of God. Following this one commandment meant a person was acting wisely; but disobeying this commandment meant a person rejected the wisdom of God:
Wisdom and instruction fools have despised! Hear, my son, the instruction of thy father, And leave not the law of thy mother. — Prov. 1:7–8, Young’s Literal Translation, bold added
So when Eve ate the fruit she actually achieved the opposite of what was promised. She wanted clarity, but got blindness. She wanted to be like God; instead, she forgot her identity. She wanted wisdom, but was made to be a fool:
The wise shall be put to shame,
they shall be dismayed and taken;
since they have rejected the word of the LORD,
what wisdom is in them? –Jer. 8:9
What is the Deception of Eve?
Eve’s deception was in not being fully convinced of who she was created to be — to the point that she completely rejected what she already had. Eve became strangely convinced (deceived) that grasping the fruit could possibly make her like her God and so she ate. Jesus, on the other hand, shows us the opposite of Eve’s response:
Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped. — Php. 2:5–6, NJB
Eve’s sin was not in wanting to be like her God. Her sin was in doubting her identity. Eve wrongly concluded that a God-like identity was something to be seized, grasped, stolen, and held onto like a wonderful, once-in-lifetime opportunity.
Believing that our “God-likeness” is an inherent, essential, permanent identity is an act of faith — an act of trust between God and child. Being God-like is merely who Eve is. It was not something she needed to obtain. We either believe that God created us in His/Her “image and likeness” or we doubt our position. To Jesus, trusting in his identity as a “child of God,” existing in “God’s image” meant he had no need to prove to anyone who he was:
The wise are cautious and turn away from evil,
but the fool throws off restraint and is careless. –Prov. 14:16
The tempter came and said to [Jesus], “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But [Jesus] answered, “It is written,
‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” –Mt. 4:3–4, bold added
Can you imagine, if instead of eating the fruit Eve had acted with trust and had discerned the serpent’s lies and said, “Leave me alone, serpent. I have already been created to be like my God – there is absolutely nothing you could possibly offer me — certainly not the Wisdom of God who has said, ‘of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.'”
True Wisdom is the Ability to Discern Between Good and Evil
If Eve had acted in this way then she would have shown her wisdom. She would have rightly discerned between good and evil. Not surprisingly, true wisdom is not the knowledge of good and evil as the serpent suggested to Eve. True wisdom is the ability to discern between good and evil as shown through the one man who knew wisdom well — Solomon:
[Solomon said] “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.” –1 Kings 3:9–12, NKJV, bold added
But unfortunately, Eve did not trust God’s wisdom that day in the garden. Instead, Eve mistook the ability to “know good and evil” for the wisdom of God, which is the ability to “discern between good and evil.” She ate and she gave some to her husband and he ate. Take note, that we are told in 1 Tim. 2:13–14 that Adam was not deceived by the serpent’s words. In other words, Adam was not concerned about needing to become like God — he was eating for another reason, altogether. (But that’s a story for my next post: Deconstructing the Sin of Adam).
The Consequences of Becoming Deceived
After eating the fruit, no longer could Eve see herself as created in the “image and likeness” of her God. In doubting her own God-like image, sin now ruled in her mind and sadly the female image of God began to fade from our memories. The fruit had been a ruse. Instead of rising to the likeness of God, Eve was left with the subtle, yet damaging deception — You are not like God. You are not wise. Eve became truly blind, unaware of her own identity. Blind to the reality of her position.
By deceiving Eve, Satan completely eliminated a key revelation of God. After the fall in the garden, only Adam (who was not at all deceived) was left to portray God on earth and unfortunately Adam was ruling “like God” while in a sin state – because as we all know, he also fell. Now when only one person truly understands that they represent God and the other person is completely unsure of their identity, the result is imbalance.
Imbalance: a lack of proportion or relation between corresponding things.
Unfortunately, the person who is confident about their God-like identity will rule the other person who is left subservient. Therefore, Adam was able to rule over Eve easily.
To the woman [God] said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.” –Gen. 3:16
Thankfully, in our day and age, the restoration of Eve is taking place. This means the deception of Eve is being reversed. Eve is being completely restored. Her true identity is being revealed. Her God-like image is becoming clear. Her Wisdom has been reestablished. Before Jesus returns, Eve and Adam will stand together in unity and dominion.
The truth is, Eve is an image bearer; she holds the same designation as that of Adam. Women, you are created in God’s very image and likeness. You represent God here on earth along with men. One image is not better than the other. There is no “secondary child of God” who exists with less authority. Both images are absolutely integral to the identity of God. Both images are divine revelations of God. You were created for such a time as this!
So, Eve’s sin was lack of faith. Lack of faith in her God and lack of faith in herself. Welcome to low self esteem. Now isn’t that a familiar theme in today’s world. Especially among women.
However, low self esteem alone does not male domination make. One more ingredient is needed. Namely, desperately clinging to the man who then can take advantage of that desperation. Especially if he becomes arrogant. After all, where would male domination be if the woman turned away from the man and turned to God instead.
So, Eve’s sin was lack of faith. Lack of faith in her God and lack of faith in herself. Welcome to low self esteem. Isn’t that a familiar theme in today’s world. Especially among women.
However, low self esteem alone does not male domination make. One more ingredient is needed. Namely, desperately clinging to the male who then can take advantage of this desperation. Especially if he becomes arrogant. After all where would male domination be if the woman turned away from the man and turned to God instead.
Very good. I like it, especially the observation that the real deception was that she lacked something that in fact she already had – she was ALREADY like God. But just being deceived would not drive a wedge between her and God, which is I believe the heart of the “fall”, becoming disconnected from God. You touched on the idea that a significant part of the temptation was the idea that God was holding out on her, keeping back something that was within her capability by denying her access to the one thing that could elevate her to her rightful place. It seems like this is the essence of her “fall”, she decided she couldn’t trust God to look after their best interests and turned her back on their connection in order to do it her way.
I haven’t read your deconstruction of Adam’s fall yet, but I believe his failure was similar – he believed the lie that his beloved was now condemned to death and didn’t trust God to deal with the problem of rescuing his love, choosing to turn his back on God in order to join her. A noble but in the end self defeating choice for I don’t believe that either could have completely abandoned that connection while the other maintained it.
I don’t know, is that outside the scope of your understanding?
I have to say, this is possibly the best interpretation of what REALLY happened in the garden of Eden. In 2018 i got tired of churches over-shadowing women, But I have a strong, beautiful and courageous mom whom I love deeply, And God was showing a different perspective of the role and creation of the woman that the only thing I got was rejection. But I feel like this article was an affirmation, Please don’t stop teaching more!