Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 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.'"
"You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
"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. - Genesis 3:1-6
I might be the only one pondering the relevance of this ancient passage to our modern lives in this particular way, but for a few years now has intrigued me that of all the temptations Satan could have used, of all the weapons he could have wielded, of all the insidious attacks he might have mounted, he chose to use food. He chose something inherently innocent that God had intended for our good or for our pleasure, and perverted it in such a way that it became a stumbling block and a means for our destruction. How did he do this?
First, he planted a seed of doubt. Specifically, he wanted Eve to doubt God's word. "Did God really say...?" It's not evident here if this was the very first time the two had an encounter of this kind, or just one of many. I wonder if Satan hadn't been harassing Eve for a while with this kind of devious questioning, slowly wearing down her faith in the kindness and perfect provision of God.
Then, he twisted God's words ever so slightly to create some confusion. Satan implied that God's instruction suggested all of the trees were off limits. "...You must not eat from any tree in the garden?" Eve knows that's not exactly what God said. They were allowed to touch and eat from any tree at all, except for one. Hm, or did He? Maybe I misheard? Maybe that was just a suggestion? Maybe God didn't really know what He was saying. Surely He wouldn't withhold something good from Adam and me! It must have been a mistake. (I find it interesting that Satan cleverly left out the part about even touching the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How convenient for him, and how tragic for Eve).
Third, Satan switched Eve's focus from all she could have, to the one thing she couldn't. Suddenly the spirit of joy and thankfulness that had filled her life until this point turned sour and became a selfish spirit of rebellion. Again, assuming this was not the first time the two had engaged in this conversation, I can imagine that Eve's curiosity began to get the better of her over time - just as a 5-year old is perfectly happy with one television station when he thinks that's the only choice that exists. But as he ages and realizes there are dozens of others that could be entertaining him, he begins to feel slighted...cheated...disrespected...deprived. I bet that single tree started looking incredibly enticing to Eve! And how stingy of God to keep her from it!
Finally, Satan implies that God is a liar and is not to be trusted. Even though God has never given Eve reason to doubt His goodness, she steps into that trap of pride, believing she could probably do a better job running her life than God. I bet she began thinking that this was no big deal. It was just fruit, after all. I mean, food! It looked good. It tasted good. And she believed the lie that it was going to fulfill her in a new and glorious way. Why wouldn't God want her to have it?
What does this have to do with anything?
Well, I see humans being deceived today - with food - in much the same way as Eve was way back at the time of Creation. We fall for all the same lies.
Even though the Bible clearly says God has given us plants and animals for food, we doubt that this guidance applies to us as strictly today. We eagerly consume all kinds of food-like products that offer no nutrition whatsoever, but claim that since it sort-of, kind-of, maybe was real food at one point in the process, it's okay to indulge in it, and maybe even depend on it. Heaven forbid we become too dogmatic, right?
We turn to isolated passages in the Bible like Luke 12:22, where it says, "Don't worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food and the body is more than clothes," and we assume that scripture means God doesn't really care what goes into our bodies, and that food isn't very important at all, other than to keep us alive. We confuse His clear intentions with our own personal preferences, and it serves our own selfish ends - to satisfy our cravings, to numb our pain, to avoid our obligations, to enjoy a few fleeting, never-enough moments of tantalizing mouth pleasure.
We cling to our sense of entitlement with the destructive food and drink we want to continue eating regularly. We use words like "I have to have," or "I'm not giving up," or "It's my body and I decide!" or "There's no way I'm eliminating that!" Our egos swell right up like a tick, and we lose our easy contentment and heart of thanksgiving. God has given us SO MUCH! So much variety, so much texture and color and flavor. Yet, we think we deserve more.
We demand our rights, daring God or others to tell us what we will or will not eat. We do what we want, with no appreciation for how our food decisions will affect our longterm health, our children's health, and the welfare and security of our families for generations to come. Worse than that, we foster this same mentality and all the bad habits that accompany it, and we pass it along to the ones we love the most so they can embrace it as their own.
Friends, our rebellion leads to death - the Bible is very clear about this - and there is no better indication of this truth than the failing health of us adults and our children, and the devastating rise of chronic disease across the globe, and specifically here in America.
It's time we take our food seriously. Time to take God's word seriously. And time to recognize that Satan will gladly use something so everyday and normal and seemingly innocuous as food, and use it to destroy our health and rob us of the fullness of a purpose-driven life that was intended for us.
What will you choose? Whose voice will you follow? Whom will you trust?