What did Satan want more than anything else? To be like God. To avoid the devil's arrogant mistake, Dr. Tony Evans says it's important to remember who you're not. You are to never erase the God-man line.
There's only one God and we are not He. This is The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, author, speaker, senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, and president of The Urban Alternative. Satan's problems began when he decided to rebel against God. So how did we get roped into the conflict and how do we survive it?
Let's join Dr. Evans for the answers. The reason that this world was in chaos was because Satan had been judged. He had been evicted, booted out of heaven, and he made his residence on earth. And wherever he is, death reigns. Wherever he is, chaos instead of creation occurs. And for however many thousands, millions, or billions of years, this earth sat as a garbage dump.
That is until the birds began to sing. For God was now intervening with another plan. And His plan was to create the lesser man to demonstrate to the greater angels that a lesser being dependent upon God is greater than a greater being acting independently of God.
To put it another way, if a man would trust and obey God, he would be able to pull off under God what rebellious angels who are greater than man were not able to pull off and that is the replacement of God. So God set in motion a plan, enter man. So you were not created because God was simply in a man-creating mood. You were created as part of a war, a conflict, an angelic conflict, if you will, that God would demonstrate to the angels who were watching. And if you read the Bible over and over again, it keeps talking about the angels watching, watching.
Why are they watching and what are they looking for? They're looking to see if the lesser dependent on God can do better than the greater independent of God. In other words, God just didn't want to demolish Satan. He wanted to embarrass him. And so he set forth in the middle of eternity past and eternity future a little period called time.
That's where you and I live. And it is a very short period, about 10,000 years of time. Time has not existed, certainly no more than 12,000 years based on biblical chronology. So we've been here a very short time before it was eternity past, after it will be eternity future, for a speck in a moment God said, let me strut my stuff in a thing called time. So the battle on God's behalf against Satan is delegated to and through man.
And if you do not understand that that is the issue here, that you are a part of a war, an angelic conflict, and the fundamental issue is to whom will you give allegiance? So in Genesis chapter one, this tohu wa bohu is intervened by God and God said, verse three says, let there be light, because darkness is always seen as judgment in the Bible. God says, let there be light. Verse six it says, and God said. Verse nine it says, and God said. Verse 11 it says that God said. Verse 14 it says that God said. Verse 20 says that God said. Verse 26 says, then God said.
Now why do you need to know that? Because you need to know when God speaks something always happens. Verse 26 says, then God said. Let us make man in our own image according to our likeness.
Let them rule over the fish of the sea, birds of the sky, cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God. He created him male and female. He created them and God blessed them. And God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, subdue it, and you rule over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves over the earth.
I hope you caught that. God comes into Satan's territory, creates man, and says, man, you're in charge here now. It's a terrible thing when somebody moves into your house and takes over. Satan had brought death to this planet. God says, man, I'm going to recreate this planet. I'm going to make it livable, suitable, enjoyable for you. Now you run it.
Now we've got a problem. Man, the lesser, because no man is equal to an angel, has been made in charge by the voice of God over the greater, over his house called planet earth. Well now, if you're the devil and this is your house, somebody moves into your house and says, I'm now running this home.
You want your house back. And that's what chapter three is all about. Chapter three is Satan wanting his house back. It's the angelic conflict.
But before we get there, let's look at this a little closer, this delegation of rule. Let me read to you just a few verses out of Hebrews chapter two, verse six. The thing I just want to make reference to, but one has testified somewhere, what is man that thou remembers him or the son of man that thou art concerned about him? Thou hast made him a little lower than the angel, the lesser. Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor and has appointed him as head over the works of your hand. And you have put all things in subjection under his feet.
It goes all the way back to Adam. Man is created to rule. He's created to rule on enemy territory.
This is not a neutral earth. This was a chaotic earth controlled by Satan. God took it and remodeled it and now places a new person in it. And Satan says, not in this house you don't.
That's why chapter two is so important. Verse nine. Out of the ground, the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing in the sight and good for food. The tree of life also in the midst of the garden and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How many trees are in the midst of the garden?
Two, not one. See, most people talk about the one tree. No, there are two trees. Two trees. One tree gives life. One tree gives death. There's the tree of life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Now, what are the instructions? Verse 15. Then the Lord God took the man, put him into the Garden of Eden. Remember, Satan was in the Garden of Eden. Satan was in the Garden of Eden. He got booted out. He was put on planet Earth.
He took man. He placed him into the Garden of Eden, cultivated to keep it, verse 16 says. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, from any tree of the garden you may freely eat, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat, for in the day you eat of it, the Hebrew says, dying you shall die. You shall surely, sure enough, bank on it, die. God says, now I recreated this whole thing for you, mister.
And listen, I am putting you to the test because I am not creating you a robot. You must serve me by choice. You must obey me by choice, and so I'm going to give you all of these trees, but let me point two of them out to you, not one. One tree here is the tree of life. You eat that, you live. This tree is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You eat that and you die.
Don't eat that. Now, the reason I must do it is because I'm in a war here, and in order for this to be a valid recreation of the initial battle, it has to be tied to your volition. Because Satan got booted out because he said, I will not listen to God. So if you want to stay here, you must say, I will listen to God. And every person in this room faces those same two trees. You either face the tree of life or you face the tree of death. You either choose God or you either rebel against God, but in the midst of your life right now are budding two trees. And one tree will bring chaos, another tree will bring creation. One tree will bring death, another tree will bring life.
The choice is his. Adam could enjoy life by obeying God's word or he could die. And it all revolved around whether he believed God. It all revolved around whether he believed God. We are told in verse 25, God gives him a helpmate, he gives him a woman, because they were to be partners in this endeavor of taking over the earth.
And now Satan must move quickly. Verse 25 says, and they were naked. Now, most people think that means they didn't have any clothes on. And it certainly means that they didn't have any clothes on. But it means more than the fact that they didn't have any clothes on. The fact that they were naked symbolized the fact that they were oblivious to evil. They were naked. They were innocent. They had no knowledge of evil. So they could be unashamed. They could be no fear. They could totally be unveiled because they were oblivious to evil like a newborn baby who's born out of their mother's womb has no concept of evil. They were naked.
A newborn baby is innocent. So were they. Now, chapter 3 says, verse 1, now, now, now when? As soon as they were married. Because the last verse, verse 24 and 25, describes the wedding vows of Adam and Eve. As soon as they were married. Now, why is he so concerned about marriage here?
Because God said, let them be fruitful and multiply. He was after stopping the development of the race. He had to move quickly.
Now, let me tell you why he had to move very quickly. Satan is not wasting any time. And the reason he's not wasting any time is because he can't let them get to that other tree. See, there are two trees, not one. Everybody's focusing on this one tree, tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There are two trees.
He cannot let them get to this other tree because if they bite the tree of life, that means they are confirmed in righteousness. They live forever. The battle is over.
The victory is won. And time is no more. That's why there's no delay in Satan's movement here. As soon as the relationship is confirmed and the instructions are given, Satan is moving. He's got to get to them before they get to that other tree.
Because there are two trees in the middle of the garden, not one. So Satan makes his move to these innocent people, that is, people without an evidence of sin, in order to gain earth back. When Dr. Evans continues his message in just a moment, he'll focus on the one concern found in the first six verses of Genesis 3, the one concern that affects your life, either for good or for bad. Today's lesson is just one installment from his two-volume, twelve-message audio series called Spiritual Warfare. In it, he looks at the nature of the unseen battle and helps us realize that many of our physical troubles essentially spring from spiritual roots. These messages will not only help you learn how to recognize the spiritual origins of the problems that plague you, but will teach you how to tackle those issues using God's methods and power. We want you to have this collection of biblical teachings on spiritual warfare as our gift. Just visit tonyevans.org before time runs out, make a contribution, and we'll say thanks by providing you all twelve messages in this two-volume collection on your choice of either CDs or instantly available digital downloads.
Again, that's tonyevans.org, or call 1-800-800-3222, where resource team members are standing by around the clock to assist with your request. I'll have that information for you again after part two of today's lesson and this. You'll discover how God has wired the world to work by prayer and experience for yourself how it connects heaven with earth and time with eternity.
You'll not only gain a new understanding and appreciation for prayer, you'll actually pray in transforming ways you've never experienced before. The course is intense, but you can work through it at your own pace and get all the help you need through our online forum. And, of course, there's custom content from Tony not available anywhere else. Connect with the Tony Evans Training Center at tonyevans.org. It's like having a seminary on your smartphone or other device.
Start today, tonyevans.org. Please note that verses one through six have one concern, the authority of God's Word. That is the only discussion on the table. God's character, as it relates to one thing, and you will see this, this will affect your life for good or for bad, the authority of God's Word. Now, the serpent was more crafty than any of the beasts of the field which the Lord God had made.
Strategically selects the sneakiest animal that God has created, which at least back then was the serpent. And he comes up to Eve, and the first conversation between a human being and the devil, guess what, is about God. He doesn't ask, how is the weather? He doesn't want to know what you've eaten today. He doesn't want to know, do you love your old man? He doesn't want to know any of that. He wants to say, let's discuss God.
Why? Because it's a spiritual battle. And guess what?
Man is right in the middle. God said one thing in chapter two, Satan's going to say another thing in chapter three, and man is spank-centered right in the middle, and you're still in the middle. So Satan comes and he says, has God, now get this, said, so it's about the Word of God, that you shall not eat any tree out of a garden. Has God placed any limitations on you?
Ask the question. Has God said no to you about anything? Or, to put it another way, are you suffering unnecessarily? Please notice the strategy of the devil.
Follow me, folks. God said, every tree that I've created you may freely eat, but of this one tree you may not eat it lest you die. Satan does not bring up all the other trees in the garden that they could freely eat. He only wants to discuss the one restriction that God placed on them. And Satan always does that.
He focuses on where God says no rather than the many times God has said yes. Young people, if your parents haven't given you everything you want, if they haven't bought you every kind of tennis shoe that exists, if they haven't gotten you every kind of designer jeans, rather than spending time saying, Mama, how come you didn't buy me this and buy me that? Thank you, Mom and Daddy, that I eat every day. Thank you, I got a roof over my head every night.
Thank you, Leith, I got clothes on my back and shoes for my feet. Because once you focus on what you don't have, rather than what God has done, you have just joined enemy territory. That is precisely what Satan wants. He wants you to lose sight of the goodness of God.
So the woman responds, are there any limitations? She says, well now that I think about it, there are a thousand trees out here, but there is one I can't touch. Now she's dialoguing with the devil over what God has said no about. So now he's got to discussing God negatively. And in doing so, she changes God's words three times. Number one, the woman said to the serpent, from the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. That's not what God said. God says, from the fruit of the trees of the garden you may freely eat. See, that word freely is a very important word, because what God was saying is all creation is accessible to you at no cost to you. It's freely eat, not just eat. It's eat for free.
Let's tell the rest of the story. God wasn't just good, he was real good. He didn't cost you anything. Secondly, she says, but from the fruit of the tree, which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, you shall not eat from it or touch it lest you die. Secondly, God never said anything about touching it. He never mentioned touching it. All he said was, you can't eat it.
Now why is touching it important? Because now she was turning God into a legalist. God didn't just say you can't eat it, don't go near it, don't touch it, stay back. God is this mean miser who won't even, he won't, not only won't let you eat it, he can't even let you near enough so you can reach out and feel the bark on the tree. God is tight, narrow.
So you get people interpreting the Christian life. You can't do this and you can't do that. You can't do this and you can't do that.
You can't do this and you can't do that. And now God looks old and stale and he's a miser and why become a Christian? Because after all, it's only you can't touch this and you can't touch that. So she adds language that's not from God. And then thirdly, she said, if you do, lest you die. That's not what God said.
God said, if you mess with this tree, you will surely die. Not lest you die. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. You'll come close to death.
No, no, no. You sure enough going to be deader than dead, you're going to die. In other words, judgment was sure.
Because whatever man sows, he reaps. So there's not going to be a questionable death here. There will not be coroner confusion. Dying, you shall die. Spiritual and physical death. So all of a sudden, a question on the floor is, God, why you do that? Why you holding out on me? I mean, why not give me all the trees? How come you got to hold back one tree? That's a good tree too, because that's got a lot of information. Tree of the knowledge of good and evil. How come you holding back and she forgets the goodness of God and starts focusing on the one restriction?
Now follow. Satan now contradicts God's word in verse 4. And the serpent said to the woman, you're not going to die. You're not going to die like dead die.
Inconvenience maybe, but not die. You surely shall not die. That's a direct contradiction of what? The word of God. You shall not die. He challenges God's veracity, his truthfulness. He says, what God said won't really happen. So it boils down to, is God just talking or is God talking?
Now, why won't you die? Let me tell you the problem, Satan says in verse 5. God knows something. Let me tell you what God knows. He knows in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be open, you will be like God knowing good from evil. Now, what did Satan want more than anything else? To be like God. He was trying to erase the creature creator distinction.
You see, the trees in the middle of the garden would always be a reminder that they were creatures, that they had to obey a higher authority. There was always to be a distinction that God is God and you are creation. But what Satan was saying is, but he made you in his image.
You're supposed to be equal. You are to never erase the God-man line. There is only one God and we are not He.
There's only room in the universe for one God. Dr. Tony Evans, continuing his examination of the origins and developments of spiritual warfare. You know, Jesus never traveled more than 300 miles from the place he was born, yet his life has changed the world.
He never wrote a song, yet more songs have been written about him than any other person in the world. And in the feature-length film Journey with Jesus, Dr. Evans and his family take you to the Holy Land to explore just what made Jesus' life so remarkable and so impactful. For a limited time, you can stream this powerful film right into your own home. Be sure to make Journey with Jesus part of your Easter reflection this year. You can find out more at tonyevans.org. And while you're there, don't forget that we'd like to send you a copy of Tony's current 12-lesson audio collection on spiritual warfare.
It's our gift to you when you make a donation to help keep this broadcast coming to this station and others like it around the world. Just visit tonyevans.org, where you can find out how to get your copy right from the home page. Or if you'd prefer, give our resource request line a call at 1-800-800-3222, and let one of our friendly team members help with your request. Again, that's tonyevans.org. Or by phone at 1-800-800-3222. Well, on Monday, Dr. Evans will continue our look at spiritual warfare as he explains why it's vitally important to keep our focus on God's goodness, even in the heat of the battle. I hope you'll join us. The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans is brought to you by The Urban Alternative and is made possible by the generous contributions of listeners like you.
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