The lie that continues to be repeated from Genesis 3 that still plagues us today is the words spoken to the woman by the serpent: “Indeed, has God said…?” At the heart of his question is doubt. The serpent convinced the woman to doubt God’s goodness, His word, and His provision. In doing so, she then led Adam in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and for the first time in human history, mankind knew what evil was from an experiential level. Before the fall, they knew only goodness. But after the fall, they knew evil in a real way and because of their transgression, we know evil as well.
What makes it difficult for us is that we have trouble knowing true goodness. It is only when we come to God’s word, and know God Himself, that we know and experience true goodness. This is why the serpent, known as Satan, is still using the same lie “Indeed, has God said…?” in our day. He doesn’t use those exact words, but we have all heard them used over and over again. The question is the same, only phrased differently.
When we see the way it is used today, we can see how these seemingly simple phrases can cause us to doubt God’s word, His love, and His provision. The fall in the garden may have taken place thousands of years ago, but we are still reliving the same doubt that they experienced.
Given that, here are three ways that we join Satan in saying “Indeed, has God said…?”
First, can we really know what the writer meant?
This one isn’t used that often, but from time-to-time you will hear it. It’s a form of deconstructionism and leads us to believe that the writers of the Bible lived in such different times from ours, that we have no way of understanding what they really meant.
I’ve heard this twice in the last year. The first time was with a woman claiming that we couldn’t know what Genesis 1-2 really meant since it was written “so long ago.” I’m not sure she understood who wrote Genesis 1-2. I guess she was assuming that it was actually written by Adam and Eve. It was written by Moses, who penned the first five books of the Bible. So if we can know what he meant in the words he used in Genesis 12, or Exodus 20, then we should have no problems knowing what he meant in Genesis 1-2.
I also witnessed this tactic used by a history professor at Erskine College. His ploy was to say that the complexities of the first century culture are so vast and unknown, that we really cannot apply anything the Apostles wrote to our culture today. With that line of thinking, why open the word of God at all?
The writers of both the Old and New Testaments wrote so that we could understand what they were saying. God intended to communicate with mankind, and does so through those who wrote the 66 books of the Bible. God called these men to write His truth to us, truth that is still valid for our day. God, the ultimate author, wrote to reveal to us who He is, who we are, and what we are to believe concerning Him for our salvation. There are things that are hard to understand, but most of the Bible is understandable by the average reader. So yes, we can know what the original authors truly meant.
Second, what’s true for you is not true for me.
This is a variation of the truth-is-relative argument. That argument is self defeating because if truth really is relative, then the statement itself fails. This argumentation is a denial of reality because we all inherently know that we can know truth especially since God has chosen to communicate with us through His word. His word is composed of propositional statements that are true. For instance, He declares to us “You shall have no other gods besides/before Me.” This is a propositional truth showing us that there is One God alone who is to be worshipped. This truth applies to all of mankind, because the Creator of mankind gave it. Those who ignore it are shown to fall more-and-more into depravity, as Romans 1:18-32 show us. That section of scripture shows us the end results of those who do not heed the First Commandment. We can see the evidence of this reality in our world as our Creator continues to pour His wrath out on mankind for suppressing what is clearly true for all.
While many may claim that this truth is not true for them, reality shows us a different story. It is true regardless of their claims to the contrary.
Third, the exception clause.
This one is very subtle, but very dangerous. It too, is rooted in Satan’s argument “Indeed, has God said…” But it is cast in the way to make one think that if they can find an exception to God’s command, then the command itself can be nullified. In other words, those who employ this method sit in judgment of God’s word. In thinking that they find an exception to the rule, they deem the rule God has given us insufficient and therefore cast it aside.
The Fifth Commandment reads “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may be well with you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you.” Everyone loves to run to some perceived exception clause on this one: “what if they are really bad sinners?”
Guess what? Your parents are bad sinners. There are no good sinners, and all are sinners. However, just being able to realize this does not negate the obligation to honor our fathers and mothers in a respectful and obedient way. The command, just as all of God’s word, still stands. Far too often we think we can find an escape clause to what God has commanded us to do, that somehow it no longer applies. But the LORD didn’t give us exception clauses. His Law remains our guiding principles for living life (not for righteousness’ sake, but out of obedience. See Luke 17:10).
I intended to write more of the ways that we fall into this failure to trust God’s word, but will stop here for now. The point is that any objection to knowing, following, and obeying God’s word is just a variation of Satan’s first charge against the nature, holiness, and goodness of God.