Seeing through half-truths
Seeing clearly with our spiritual eyes means we see both God’s glory and the danger of straying from it. It means being aware of our blind spots, strongholds and weaknesses that can sneak up and bite us.
God created a utopia for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Food grew bountifully on trees. The breeze always blew in the right direction. The temperature was never too hot or too cold. Sin and sickness were not known. God gave the first couple free range to roam and play and enjoy His creation, except for just one command:
“You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Genesis 2:17).
God’s will has always been a spacious place where we can taste and see and have life to the full (John 10:10b). God has always been abundantly generous with us. His commands aren’t meant to fence us in but to protect us. He is a caring and faithful Father who always tells us the truth because He is very essence of Truth.
While no one particularly likes the idea of boundaries, we all need them. God placed the first man in the garden “to work it and watch over it” (Genesis 2:15). He gave Adam clear instructions on how to live. Adam was the head of his and Eve’s home, charged with guarding its goodness by staying close to the One who had given it.
But even in Eden, an enemy existed.
The tempter and accuser, the thief and devil disguised as an angel of light, allured Eve when he slithered up and said, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?’
Like a good husband, Adam had apparently shared God’s important command with Eve, because she accurately replied to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
Eve understood God’s instructions. She knew that she was not allowed to eat from the tree or touch it, lest she die. But did she believe God? Did she take Him at His word? Knowing something about God and believing it are two very different things.
The enemy convincingly responded to Eve, “No! You will not die. In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:1-5).
Satan created confusion. He discouraged Eve from obeying God. He shoved her toward sin by appealing to her pride and sense of self-sufficiency. Any one of these things should have been a red flag for Eve.
In that moment, Eve thought she knew better than God. She had forgotten that God had provided everything she and Adam needed. He held nothing back, not one good thing. But she wanted to see more and know more apart from God.
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirablefor gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).
Anytime we try to justify a personal desire that is opposed to a God declaration, we are heading in the wrong direction.
Remember, seeing clearly with our spiritual eyes means we see both God’s glory and the danger of straying from it. Instead, Eve only saw with blinders the one thing she couldn’t have. She saw a lack of provision instead of plea of protection.
Perhaps Eve didn’t even realize she wanted to taste the forbidden fruit until the enemy pointed it out to her. Or maybe she’d circled the tree a dozen times, growing more and more curious the closer she got. Eve knew she wasn’t even supposed to touch it, so why did she allow herself to linger in a place the Lord had restricted?
Eve was deceived because she had taken off her spiritual lenses, and the things of Eden quickly became out of focus.
The Bible doesn’t say how long the honeymoon lasted when both man and woman were naked yet felt no shame. It doesn’t say how long it took for Eve to grow restless in paradise. Nor does it say where Adam, God’s appointed protector, was that tragic day the serpent seduced Eve.
Perhaps Adam believed a half-truth even before his wife, that he didn’t need to lead her in a place that was perfect. But headship of the home is part of God’s design for marriage, not a curse from the fall. Sin is what causes us to struggle against God’s design. Sin is what makes me sometimes resent my husband or criticize a decision he makes or even override it all together.
Sin doesn’t result in freedom but in dissension and disorder that can affect generations to come.
Perhaps Adam just preferred to not have the burden of shouldering such a responsibility. But passivity is a sin when God has assigned us to act.
Whatever caused Adam to go missing that day, it can be assumed that he bought into a half-truth even before Eve. Adam must have believed that he could coast on his watch of Eden. He must have believed that Eve was fine without him. But God had designed it differently, equal yet separate and necessary roles between man and woman.
God had given both Adam and Eve the joy of working together, side by side, to “be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). He gave them specific roles to compliment the marriage, one another and the world around them.
We don’t know when exactly Adam joined Eve on this illicit encounter to eat the forbidden fruit. But he did eventually join her and walk blindly into the barrenness of sin.
“She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked” (Genesis 3:6-7).
Our eyes can be opened like the father and mother to all the living. As Adam and Eve’s spiritual children, we have inherited their bad spiritual genetics. We are shortsighted without God’s revelation, the lens of Scripture to teach, rebuke, correct and train us (2 Timothy 3:16).
At first, being independent from God (and from one another) and living large like Adam and Eve can seem enticing. As I honestly tell my kids, sin can be fun. But whatever momentary pleasure it can bring will never outweigh the damage it can do. Just look at Eden. Just look at how Satan spoke to Eve, in a series of half-truths that warped her perspective.
God’s paradise was ruined because Adam and Eve believed the created over the Creator.
The tricky part about the enemy is that he wraps blatant lies in partial truth. That’s what makes him a deceiver. When our guard is down, our spiritual lenses off, our Bible in the proverbial back seat and our flesh in full force, it is difficult for us – I might even say impossible at times – to distinguish the truth from a lie.
Consider the cunning ways the enemy presented lies to Eve:
Your eyes will be opened.
You will know good and evil.
You will not die.
You will be like God.
The enemy's lies were laced with half-truths, just enough bait to hook and catch them in a tantalizing trap. Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, but they were nothing like God. They knew the difference between good and evil, but that knowledge brought despair instead of benefit. They didn't die on that day, but instead crept closer to death every day of their life with the weight of the world on their backs.
Instead of holiness, they gained the horror that resulted from being separated from God.
Instead of more pleasure, they gained chronic pain from the consequences of their sin.
Marriage was marred by inequality, contention and the struggle of wills.
What should have been a joy – bearing children and working the land – resulted in painful labor for both the man and the woman. These consequences didn’t just affect Adam and Eve. Their children suffered under the curse of sin, and we continue to suffer under it today.
Seeing 20/20 means seeing through the half-truths Satan speaks.
We must be aware of the schemes of the enemy, able to discern his deceptions and decipher his voice. He is cunning and clever, but he’s really not creative. Because he is the father of lies, we have to know that anytime Satan is speaking, suggesting, or seducing, he is lying, even if it's cloaked in a half-truth.
“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan’s lies are always the same, spun a different way to address a specific stronghold.
Think about how you've heard him speak before. Think about your own triggers and weaknesses.
Lie: You don’t need to check with God about that. It’s (or you’re) not that important.
Lie: You will never do that.
Lie: You will always be like this.
Lie: This one time won’t hurt anything.
Lie: You don't have time for that devotional, that prayer, that ministry.
Lie: You have nothing to offer.
Lie: Your real worth is in ________, not God.
Lie: God doesn’t love you. He just wants to control you.
Lie: Nobody cares. Nobody needs you.
Lie: Everybody cares. It all depends on you.
Lie: Even God can't help you with this.
Lie: Only you can help you with this.
Lie: Being a Christian is boring. ________ is so much better than the things of God.
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Can you see how Satan's voice confuses, rushes, obsesses, scares, and condemns you? Can you see how he twists and tangles the truth?
Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard put it this way: “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” Satan shamelessly works both sides.
In contrast, when you look in God's Word, you can see how His voice clarifies, calms, guides, frees, comforts and convicts you in love.
It would serve us well to be able to tell the difference between the voice of the enemy and the voice of the Savior.
We become like Adam and Eve when we take our eyes off the things of God and put them on the things of the world.
God says to set our minds "on things above, not on earthly things" and to "not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God" (Colossians 3:2, Romans 12:2). We ascend in our thoughts and renew our minds through studying the Bible, being "washed by the Word" (Ephesians 5:26).
God clearly tells us how to know His voice and how to separate the truth from a lie.
If your relationship with God and His Word aren't your first priority, you are "glancing at God and gazing at the world," as Pastor Levi Lusko states in his book, "Through the Eyes of a Lion." And that will leave you blindsided.
Do you treasure Scripture more than social media? More than your stock portfolio? More than your status? Or your iPhone? Or Netflix? Or your job or family or education or hobbies?
We must open God's Word and take Him at His word.
“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20).
Living without the lens of God will always result in darkness.
We are too confident in our own flesh, our own morals and our own way. God warns against thinking more highly of ourselves than we should think (Romans 12:3). Adam and Eve, after all, had never sinned until they did. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was likely something they thought they would never do. It probably seemed outrageous to even think of disobeying God in a place of such perfection.
But Adam and Eve made the mistake we all continue to make: overestimating ourselves and underestimating the enemy and the effects of sin.
Adam and Eve’s eyes were opened, but not in the way they expected. With the absence of sin, the couple had been naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25). But once their spiritual lenses were off, they beheld what was once exquisite as obscene. For the first time since sharing a life together, they realized they were unclothed and unworthy.
“So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Genesis 3:7b).
The result of taking off their spiritual lenses for a flesh-driven and fleeting moment was shame and hiding. It is the same for us. Adam and Eve literally could no longer look at one another without seeing nakedness and embarrassment. They could no longer see the beauty of God’s creation.
And they did what humans tend to do when we’ve sinned against God. They hid and tried to cover it up.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid … So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’”
But God in His grace came looking for them, just like He comes for us - a search and rescue mission of incomparable magnitude to bring us Home to Him.
Because God loves His children, this Good Father covered Adam and Eve in the garden, not with makeshift fig leaves but with clothing from the skins of a slaughtered animal (Genesis 3:21). This animal sacrifice was the first trade of God’s virtue for our vice – greenery for goatskin.
This covering wasn’t just so Adam and Eve could be relieved of their shame and nakedness. This holy and blameless God was seeking relationship with His beloved image bearers. God came for them not with wrath and retribution but with forgiveness and restoration. God comes for us, too.
Just as God called out to man in the garden, He calls out for us from the cross of Jesus Christ.
"He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:9-10).
This is truth. Whole and complete. Will you believe it today? Will you put on the spiritual lenses God has given you to reject the half-truths of the enemy? Abide in Jesus and let His truth set you free (John 8:32).