And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die!
"For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:4-5).
When the devil saw that the woman had already shown a subtle disrespect for God's command by adding to it, he then pushed her all of the way into the trap by boldly contradicting God. When Eve did not recoil at this, her fate was sealed. If we are prone to either add to or take away from the Word of God, we will be prime candidates for deception. If we do not take a stand against the blatant contradictions to God's Word, we will likewise be easy prey for the crafty.
In contrast to Eve, when Jesus was tempted by the devil, He took His stand on God's Word. The foundation of obedience is having it settled in our hearts that God's Word is true. Whenever we are being tempted, we should flee to the Word of God and search for what the Bible says on the issue. It is very unlikely that Eve would have eaten the forbidden fruit if she had waited to ask God about the serpent's assertions. The Lord promises us that if we seek, we will find (see Matthew 7:7). He will teach us His ways if we seek Him. It is not wrong to take our questions to the Lord.
We should also note that the very first recorded lie of Satan was "You surely shall not die." This is still his basic lie, and the great deception that is the root of most false religions and beliefs. Yet, the Word of God is clear, "For the wages of sin is death" (see Romans 6:23). Sin leads to death. It does not matter how crafty the philosophies or religions sound, if we believe anything other than God's Word, it will be our doom.
What is sin? It is disobeying God. He made us, and He knows what is best for us. He only established one rule for the first man and woman, and it was to protect them. He did not say to them that the day they ate from the fruit of the tree that He was going to kill them. He said that the day they ate from it, they would die. He knew that the fruit was poison. It was the fruit that would kill them, and it did. The Lord always has our best interests in mind. He has only designated those things as sin that will hurt us and His creation.
God has established guidelines for our lives. If we insist on bending the rules, it will result in our own destruction. These rules were not made just to frustrate us, but rather to keep us safe. Sin kills. Disobedience is sin, and it will always result in tragedy. Let us establish in our hearts that God is good, His ways are all righteous and true, and it is for our good that He has established the guidelines by which we should live. If we desire understanding, let us ask for the sake of becoming more perfect in our obedience.
We should also note that the Tree of Knowledge is in the middle of the Garden. This is also indicative of the primary result of eating its fruit—self-centeredness. When Adam and Eve ate from it, the first thing that they did was look at themselves. God-centeredness leads to life, while self-centeredness leads to death. The final push of the serpent to get the woman to eat the forbidden fruit was to get her to think that God was withholding something that she needed to feel complete. If the enemy can get us to focus on ourselves, especially on real or perceived personal inadequacies, we will then be easy prey for deception.
The enemy's strategy is to get us to look at ourselves, either the good or the bad, instead of looking to the adequacy of the Lord. By this we can usually recognize what the devil is planting in our hearts to lead us astray. Again, the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge kills by getting us to look at ourselves. In contrast to this, eating from the Tree of Life will result in our being Christ-centered. It is not who we are in Him, but who He is in us that leads to life and power.
We must know what sin is and be able to recognize it, but keeping our attention focused on the sin is not the path to a sin-free life. We do need to understand the schemes of the devil, but we must not keep our attention on him, or concern ourselves with knowing his ways too deeply. We are told in I Corinthians 11:31, "But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged." It is therefore right that we examine ourselves, but if we focus on self, we will fall.
We must focus our attention on the Lord and behold His glory if we are going to be changed into His image. We must guard against any doctrine, or person, which tries to make us focus our attention on ourselves, the devil, or sin. The key word here is "focus." Follow those who are following Christ, growing in the knowledge of who He is, and getting ever closer to Him.