The story of the fall paints one of the most vivid pictures about the power of belief and faith. The story begins with a statement about the serpent, that it “was more crafty than any other beast of the field,” (v. 1). This should cause us to pause for a second and realize that what is about to happen will come about precisely because the serpent knows how to weasel his way into the minds and hearts of God’s people. Take a look at his first statement. He tells Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden,’” (v. 1). Of course God didn’t say that! God told Adam and Eve that there was only ONE tree they couldn’t eat of. But what the serpent is doing in his craftiness is setting up the legitimacy of himself and the lie he will feed Eve. See, he doesn’t deny that there is a God or come out and say that he desires to overthrow God. He doesn’t tell Eve to simply rebel against the Almighty, he works himself into Eve’s framework and belief structure. He plays by her rules. If he were to come out and say exactly what he really desires, he would tell her that God doesn’t deserve to be God, but rather He needs to be deposed and cast off His throne. But Eve knows better than that! She knows who her Creator is! So the serpent doesn’t try to do away with her belief of the existence of God, but he does make her doubt the words, promises, and sufficiency of God. The serpent tells her that God has lied to her. He tells Eve that instead of perishing when partaking of the fruit of the forbidden tree, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” (v. 4-5). The serpent is telling Eve, “What God has given you isn’t enough, it’s not what you really need.” In his crafty way, the serpent has established in Eve’s mind his own legitimacy by acknowledging that there is a God and then has fed a lie to Eve. The lie, though, has two faces. On the one hand, the words of the serpent produce unbelief in the promises of God. On the other hand, the words establish a belief in the lie itself. Underneath it all, the reality is that the serpent said to Eve, “God has lied to you! He isn’t worthy of your trust and devotion!” while at the same time exclaiming, “Just eat of this fruit, and you will be God!” See, the fundamental problem in the Fall of mankind isn’t the fact that Adam and Eve ate fruit and rebelled externally, but that they believed something about the fruit, and in turn rejected a belief in God and His promises. Satan and sin are much craftier than to suggest outright rebellion against God to one of God’s children. But they will make you question the sufficiency of God, and inherent in that unbelief about the sufficiency of God is a stark rebellious spirit that masquerades under a “victim” mentality. We are the victims of God’s insufficiency! We need something to fill us up and God can’t do it! Therefore we justify rebellion. Another example of this is in
2 Samuel 15:1-6:
Absalom is King David’s son. They have had some family turmoil in the past, to say the least, but now, Absalom is back in Jerusalem, living under the rule of his father. In verses 1-2, however, Absalom is setting up what will be one of the bloodiest and most detrimental rebellions in the history of God’s people. Absalom is planning on ousting his father and taking the kingdom for himself. How does he start? He targets the belief of the people! His statement in verse 3 mirrors that of the serpent’s in Genesis 3. Absalom tells the people as they approach the gate to come to the king for judgment in disputes, “See, your claims are good and right, but there is no man designated by the king to hear you.” Absalom is using the same tactics the serpent used in the garden! First, he doesn’t come out and say, “I’m planning a rebellion against David, anybody want to join?” That would absolutely shock the people! But by framing his lie in a way that acknowledges the legitimacy of David’s thrown, (“…designated by the king”), he gets the peoples’ ear. Inherent in this statement of verse 3, though, is a lie. He is effectively telling the people that David, in and of himself, is not sufficient for them. He isn’t enough. His judgment and reign aren’t powerful enough to give the people what they really need. So he is helping along the people to unbelief in the rule of David. But he is also establishing the people’s belief in a lie. He says in verse 4, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.” The lie has two faces, and it targets the insecurity of the people. On one hand, it tells the people that David isn’t enough. On the other hand, it boldly proclaims that Absalom is, in fact, enough. The result of the lie told by Absalom is that he “stole the hearts of the men of Israel,” (v. 6). The fact here is that these are God’s people! They are not estranged from the covenant! The fundamental problem in 2 Samuel 15 is not that the people eventually rebelled physically against David, but that they believed a lie, that their king wasn’t enough for them! Their unbelief in their king, and their belief in Absalom led to their rebellion.
The truth still stands. The fundamental problem with humanity is our faith and belief. Satan knows this, and our sin is privy to his counsel. They conspire with these words, “If you can affect the belief and faith of someone, you can control their actions.” The reason why we don’t outwardly obey and conform to God’s commands is because we have an inner faith problem. The goal of our salvation, including our sanctification, then, becomes about God remedying our false notions of life and joy and reorienting our faith around Him. Human beings are quick to jump to works, though, thinking that in our actions lie the main problems or deficiencies. We should, however, realize that the problem lies fundamentally with what we believe, not in our actions. Right belief produces right action. Faith produces works. Belief is the catalyst for action. Behind every outward sin is unbelief towards God, and belief towards a particular sin. Our task as Christians is fundamentally about identifying the lies believe, the lies our sin tells us about itself and the lies it says about our God and remedying them with faith in Christ and His promises. Our sin says, “just put your hope in your body image, in what others think of you, in pornography, in having the latest gadgets, in your job success, in how much money you have. These things can satisfy! God can’t do what these can!” But we must respond, “Jesus can give, does give, and will give me all that need. He is ‘the bread of life,’ (John 6:35).” Let us marinate in the promises of God today. As Christians we are secure in Christ because we have been bought by Him (1 Corinthians 6:20), we are forgiven, adopted, made right with God, given everlasting life, and are finally freed from the dominion and reign of sin (Galatians 5:1). Suddenly, the cry of the man in Mark 9:24, “I believe! Help my unbelief!” becomes our own in the desperate plea of our sanctification. May that be our prayer daily.