The current sermon series, I have been preaching on the temptations and the trial of Christ, has driven me back to the beginning. Book One of Genesis displays the same themes that I have been preaching.
In Book One, Adam is the one being tested but he responded by testing God. The serpent (aka the devil) proposed that God’s word is but a hypothesis to be tested. Thus Adam put the LORD his God to the test when Adam was the one under the probationary test.
Furthermore, Adam should have believed that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. It is fitting then that Adam’s test involved the word of God, food, and a punishment of death. The only stipulation (the word of God) was that he fast from the fruit of one particular tree. But instead of responding in faith, he decided that he was autonomous from God, he was independent of God, and could judge the truth of God’s word. In a time of plenty, Adam forgot the LORD who had been good to him and failed to submit to the word of the LORD.
From the beginning, the serpent has casted doubt upon the word of God. His methodology is to make you think that you get to sit in judgment on the word. You get to test the word to see if it is true. You exalt yourself over the word of God rather than humble yourself before the word of God. Many people try out Christianity — they test it out to see if it will work for them. Such an attitude is the one Satan promotes.
Adam was created to serve and worship God alone. He was a priest-king in the temple of God who was to keep/guard the grounds and defend God’s word. He should have started with the truth of God’s word, kept that word, and judged Satan’s challenging words according to it as Jesus would later do.
Likewise, we need to presuppose the truth of God’s word in our defense of the faith. An unbeliever does not get to weigh the evidence and decide if it is true. First of all, everyone is biased since all sin and fall short of the glory of God. But even apart from the fall, since we see that Adam should not have done this either, no one can judge the word of God because we are His creatures. We do have a task of judging, just as Adam did, but it is subordinate to the word of God. God is the creator and we are His creatures. God gives us the correct interpretation of the facts (not to imply that facts can exist without an interpretation, they cannot since they are created by God), we should strive to think His thoughts after Him. We are not autonomous. We are dependent upon God. For an unbeliever to pretend otherwise and sit in judgment on God’s word is to forget that He is a created creature of God. It is a sinful and prideful posture to begin with, and to return to the other point given the fall, it is also to live in denial about the effects of sin on our reasoning capabilities.
For example, Jesus is not liar, lunatic or Lord. Jesus is Lord. The issue is not whether or not you will judge the evidence and come to the right conclusion. The issue is whether or not you will submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and submit to His word. We are the ones on trial, not Jesus and His word. The question is: Are we going to be identified with Jesus or are we going to deny having a relationship with Him?
To return to the beginning: Adam was in self-denial. He denied having a relationship with God — being the Son of God. He decided that He would not be identified with God but rather with the serpent. Adam was the one on trial, not God and His word, but instead Adam put the LORD’s word to the test.
The last temptation — “If you are the Son of God, save yourself” (cf. Matt 27:40) — at base is a temptation to pretend you are autonomous of God and do not need God. Adam did not face the temptation, “save yourself” because at that point he did not yet need salvation (at that point he did not need God as the redeemer). But he did face the temptation of pretending he was autonomous and did not need God the creator — the serpent said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God [or “like gods”], knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5). The temptation to judge the word of God is a temptation to be like gods. He was acting as if he did not need God.
It is fitting that the word of God begin by telling us that Adam tested the word of God. We should not test it, but submit to the word of the LORD. Amen.