The First Lie

The First Lie

The first lie in human history is also one of the most dangerous lies, and one we still hear all the time today. Against it, there’s only one hope.

On Sunday I taught about the first lie—the one the serpent told to Eve in the garden. I taught the lesson pretty well, I think, but it took one of my fourth-grade students to pound the point home. As I tell you about the class, you’ll see what I mean.

First I taught about the command. God planted a garden in Eden where Adam and Eve could eat, work, and be with him. He said they could eat fruit from any tree in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; if they ate from that, they would surely die. This was good—a way for Adam and Eve to trust and obey their Creator.

Then I taught about the temptation. The devil came as a serpent and questioned God’s truthfulness and goodness. “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” (Genesis 3:4–5).

I taught about the lie. You will not surely die claims that a little sin is not really so bad for you. Some sin is worth it to make sure you get what you want. Trust yourself and the desires you can see. Don’t worry so much about consequences you can’t see. My class and I discussed how this lie still tempts us all the time. We sin because we don’t really believe the sin is so bad for us.

I taught about the aftermath. Adam and Eve ate, and their sin spoiled everything. They were ashamed, scared of God, and quick to try to defend their righteousness by blaming others. Adam actually managed to blame both Eve and God in a single sentence: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). God cursed people, the snake, and the earth, and he banished Adam and Eve from life with him in the garden. To protect his holy place, he stationed the beastly heavenly creatures called cherubim at the garden entrance. The message was clear: stay away, sinners!

I taught about mercy. God didn’t immediately kill Adam and Eve, nor did he completely leave them. He provided clothes for them and gave them children. In the centuries that followed, he came to be with his people again, living among them in the Tabernacle built by Moses. Even then, though, God’s holiness was kept pure and access to his Most Holy Place was barred by a curtain decorated with pictures of—you guessed it—cherubim.

I taught about Jesus. When God came to us as Jesus, he did what Adam failed to do; he obeyed and trusted God perfectly. Then he died for us who believe, to bear the penalty for our sin. The cherubim-decorated curtain in the Temple was torn in two, opening the way back to God. Everything we’ve lost due to sin we receive back due to Jesus. He turns that first, ugly lie—you will not surely dieon its head. In him, we will surely live forever even though we’ve sinned.

After I finished the lesson, we broke into groups for prayer. In my group was a girl who normally participates when I ask questions during lesson time, but had been quiet that morning. She was silent, too, while others in the group requested prayer for sick relatives, disobedient pets, and such. I was ready to start praying but first asked, “Anything else we should pray about?”

That’s when the girl spoke up. She asked if we could pray for her to stop arguing with a sibling. “I was thinking about the lie,” she said. “I usually think it’s okay to argue and God won’t mind and it’s not so bad, so I argue a lot. We should pray for me to stop arguing.”

That was the best moment of the whole morning.

Right away another student added, “I need to stop fighting with my brother, too.” Yet another said, “Pray that I won’t argue with my parents.” I added myself to the list, admitting that I argue with family members too and don’t take that sin seriously enough.

Then we practiced faith in Jesus by praying. We took our sin to God. We asked forgiveness, but also asked him to make us serious about fighting sin and help us resist it. That too is part of our salvation—part of how Jesus defeats the big lie.

Good job, sweet fourth grader, for bringing it up!

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