Studies in Genesis 3
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 ESV
Eve is asked a question from a creature not made in the image of God, who cannot have a personal relationship with Him and who is subject to both God and Man. “Did God actually say” suggests God may not have said what Adam heard from God and what he told Eve God said.
The serpent does not refer to God by the name He has been using for Himself, LORD God, the self-existing One who rules because He is God. The serpent simply calls Him “God,” even suggesting He could be one of possibly many gods. Whatever is speaking through the serpent does not hold God in the highest regard but lowers Him, making Him less than who He is. Here is the essence of rebellion, claiming God is less and therefore, does not have full authority or control.
By implication, the serpent is suggesting to Eve God made a mistake, is not perfect, does not have control, has not done what He said He has done, and does not love her.
We do not get to know why the serpent suggests God is not God, or where the serpent came by the thought. We can assume from Scripture that Lucifer, a fallen angel, inhabited the serpent to cause destruction to God’s creation, but there is no way for Eve to know this. Eve knows only what she has learned since her creation, from Adam and from God. Some may suggest she and Adam were created with extensive knowledge of all things. If they were, her response to the serpent would have been completely different. They were created perfect but not complete, with an innate knowledge of God because of His image in them, and with speech, the ability to reason and name. But they were also created with the ability to learn and grow in knowledge of God, of each other and of the world in which they lived. Eve was confronted by a creature of God that exhibited characteristics that fell outside of her experience.
Engaging in a conversation is not wrong. Conversation is one way to learn from another. Relationship requires communication. Adam talked to Eve just as Eve talked to Adam. Both talked with God just as God talked with them. How do we know this? God had already talked to Adam about his responsibilities and limitations. God listened to Adam as he named the creatures and approved the names. Eve was not startled when the serpent began speaking to her. Yet, healthy conversations do not try to deceive but acknowledge truth and seek to explore truth and its ramifications. To begin a conversation with an untrue statement or to lead to a conclusion not based upon truth is deceptive. There is no place in God’s presence for deception.