The World’s First Lie – Genesis 3:4-5
If I were asked for one motto about life as a Christian, it might be this: Don’t believe the world’s first lie. Any lie about God threatens life with him. But the first lie—the one that plunged the world into all its evil—is extra dangerous.
You probably know the story. God planted a garden in his wonderful world, created Adam and Eve, and gave them plants and trees in that garden to eat from and enjoy. But there was one tree he warned about: “If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die” (Genesis 2:17, NLT).
Well, the serpent came to Eve and questioned God’s command. He said, “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5, NLT). There you have it. “You won’t die” is the world’s first lie.
The gist of this lie is that my sin really isn’t so bad for me. I can disobey God with little consequence. Judgment is mild or avoidable, if it exists at all.
The lie has proven popular throughout human existence, including today. We readily believe in a powerful God who loves us. But we’d rather not believe that he’ll punish basically good people who break a few of his rules. No lasting penalties. For sure no hell. You won’t die.
So why is the lie so bad? Religious rule-mongers tend to rail about how the lie makes us slack. They say we need some fear of God to make us obey. But our Bible story shows the lie actually leads to a whole attitude and way of thinking with even worse effects.
Effect: The lie makes us take God lightly. We start to think of him as a pushover. If disobeying him is not a crime against the very glory of the universe, worthy of death, then God is just a gutless old man with occasional good advice. Is he even worth obeying?
Effect: The lie destroys our trust in God. From taking God lightly it’s a short step to doubting his goodness. When Eve believed the lie and took the fruit, the Bible says, “She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her” (Genesis 3:6, NLT). The lie lets us slip into following what we think is lovely, wise, and good for us. We figure we know better than God. Perhaps he doesn’t have our best interests in mind, but just holds punishment over us to make us toe the line. Our own ideas sure seem like they’d make us most happy.
Effect: The lie turns us into rebels. We scoff at the King. We spurn our own Creator. We mock our very Father. When we decide we know better, we stop acting like created people. We start making ourselves out to be little gods. And let’s be honest, that’s what we wanted all along. It’s how the serpent baited us: “You will be like God.”
Well, like Eve, I believe the lie too readily. But there’s yet another thing to consider. I belong to Jesus, and he told his followers, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, NLT). There’s truth. Freedom from the lie.
God is loving. He came to us as Jesus. He entered our rebellious world to take the punishment we deserve for scorning him, and he died in our place. In a move that must give the devil constant fits, Jesus turned the serpent’s lie—that first, best, cleverest lie of all—into truth for you and me. If we have faith in Jesus, then even if we sin, we won’t die. Jesus turns that lie on its head!
This, even more, is why we must not buy into the lie that there’s no punishment in the first place. Jesus took that punishment. If I think my sin isn’t so bad, I make less of what he did for me. I fail to appreciate his extraordinary sacrifice.
You see, the world’s first lie is also a lie against love. If I sin like it’s no big deal, I’m thinking little of God’s love for me, and any love I have for him in return will shrivel and die. So my motto for life is to remember the truth: Sin kills.