Genesis 2.16-17: And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
Genesis 3.1: [The serpent - Satan] said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
We can learn about the subtlety of sin as we look at the first temptation. Notice God's word to Adam contain 3 parts: 1. The blessing or the goodness of God - you are free to eat from any tree in the garden. 2. The command - you must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 3. The warning of judgment - for when you eat of it you will surely die.
When Satan tempts Eve, he leaves out the blessing and the judgment. Instead, he simply asks Eve, did God really say? In leaving out the goodness of God, Satan's temptation causes Eve to question the love of God and in leaving out the judgment of God, Satan causes Eve to downplay the punishment of God.
We know that Eve was duped because we read her answer: The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die." Notice what is missing are words like every and surely. In other words, Eve begins to doubt the goodness of God - yes, God will let us eat from the trees but not every tree and the judgment of God - we will die but will we surely die?
When we are tempted today, the same process happens:
1. We begin to doubt the love of God. We begin to look at sin as something good that God withholds or as something which will satisfy - even though God has told us it will not.
2. We lower the fear of judgment. God is holy but surely die? He will show mercy or accept me, after all I'm basically a good person.
How do we battle sin? Ask Am I beginning to doubt the love of God within His boundaries? and Am I beginning to downplay the judgment of God? Sin is subtle and will attack God's love and wrath/punishment of sin. Knowing with confidence that God is both love and holy will help us in our battle against sin.