Why are we always drawn to that which is forbidden? All we need is for someone to say, "Whatever you do, don't look there," and we will look there. "Whatever you do, don't go in there," and we will go in there. Try saying to a child, "Stay out of that room," or "Don't touch that," and immediately, that child will begin to push the limits and try to see how much he or she can get away with. It is human nature.
Perhaps in our warped way of thinking, we assume the reason God says no to us sometimes is because He is trying to keep us from something that would be enjoyable. We think, Why wouldn't God let me do that? If God really loved me, He would let me do anything I wanted to. But that is not true. Because God loves you, He puts up barriers and warns us, "Stay away from this. Don't do that."
The Bible tells us, "No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly" (Psalm 84:11 NKJV). So a good thing to remember is that if God tells you not to do something, then that something is not a good thing. He issues warning labels. There was one clearly attached to a particular tree in the Garden of Eden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Adam and Eve had been placed in a veritable paradise. Talk about having a great job. Adam's job was to be in the Garden and to appreciate and discover all that God had created. He was to spend time in the presence of the Lord each and every day as the Lord came walking through the Garden during the cool of the day. There was only one restriction God placed on Adam and Eve. Of all the trees in the Garden — and there must have been thousands — there was only one tree they could not eat from. Yet in Genesis 3, we find Adam and Eve hanging out at the only tree God told them to stay away from. Adam and Eve deliberately ignored the warning God gave them.
The devil is clever. He will try to make bad look good and good look bad. And he does a pretty effective job of it. No doubt he was trying to attract Adam and Eve to this tree to get them to eat of its fruit. We notice three specific strategies he used to get Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit.
One, he questioned God's Word. He did not deny that God had spoken; he simply questioned whether God had really said what Eve thought He had said. He wanted her to think that perhaps she had misunderstood God's command. And today, the devil still twists the truth to try and alienate people from God.
Two, he questioned God's love. He wanted Eve to think that God was holding something back from her when, in reality, God himself had placed those restrictions for Adam's and her own good to keep them from sinning.
Three, he substituted his own lie. He questioned God's Word, he questioned God's love, and then he substituted his own lie. He led them to believe that if they ate of the tree, they would become like gods. He was saying, "Eve, check it out. You will be a goddess. Imagine. You will know good and evil. God is trying to hold something back from you. Go ahead and do it."
Here we see a primary principle of spiritual attack: the devil works from without to within, which is the very opposite of God's method. God begins His work in a person's heart, and the changes then affect his or her outer lifestyle. But the devil will always to try to come from the outside to gain a foothold on the inside.
That strategy was successful with Adam and Eve, and their eyes were opened to the wickedness of sin, the deceitfulness of the devil, and the weakness of their own nature. They were exposed to all of the wicked depravity of the world.
Far too often, we know more about this wicked world than we should, and we know far less from the Word of God, which we desperately need. As the apostle Paul said, "I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil" (Romans 16:19 NKJV).
It all starts with paying attention to God's warning labels. Are you ignoring any today?
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!