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)
The serpent asks a question which assumes God is not trustworthy, that Adam misheard or is willingly misrepresenting God, and that God does not mean what He says. The question is unreasonable. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” is a direct contradiction of God’s eternal being exhibited in all of creation, including the serpent and that which is inhabiting the serpent.
God created Man in His image, creating them male and female which suggests Eve may have known His words. In Genesis chapter 1 He gave them food. “And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food’” (Genesis 1:29 ESV). God gave them a large variety of food. Then, in Genesis chapter 2, God placed them in a garden, their home, and gave a specific instruction. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely 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 surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV). He told them they could eat the fruit from all of the trees in the garden but one. He identified that one tree as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Whatever is inhabiting the serpent may have known what God actually said. This also is something we cannot know. We can assume some knowledge of God, how He works, and what He said. We also know whatever is inhabiting the serpent was initially created by God but was in active rebellion against Him. God did not just create the physical but also the spiritual. Of all the physical creatures created by God only Man has the image of God. Genesis covers the physical world not the spiritual. It is not unreasonable to suggest something created by God in the spiritual world was allowed into the physical by God.
Why would God allow this? We do not get to know why. We can know that He allowed it because it happened. This is a test to see whether or not the people He created in His image would obey Him. There is more to obedience than simply doing or not doing. Obedience and disobedience involves the thinking of the heart, the whole person. A person will do that which their head and heart tell them to do. The question of whatever was inhabiting the serpent was designed to confuse and bewilder the thinking of the heart of the woman. This is what lies are designed to do. Lying confuses the hearer and is meant to alter the thoughtful and emotional direction of the one hearing so they cannot draw a correct conclusion steering their actions in a wrong direction. The only way to counter a lie is to know, and correctly express, the truth.
We have already assumed God knows everything including what will happen in the history of the universe He created. He knows what is inhabiting the serpent and the motivations behind the question. He also knows what Eve, and then Adam, will do. He cares because He values them but He will not direct them against their will in this matter. The test is designed to expose who they are in their innermost self.