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  • Chad Werkhoven

Genesis 3:1-7 - Shrewd Sin

Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he took that bite.


Genesis 3:1–7 (NIV)

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’ ”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Man

We believe

that God created man from the dust of the earth

and made and formed him in his image and likeness—

good, just, and holy;

able by his own will to conform

in all things

to the will of God.

But when man was in honor

he did not understand it

and did not recognize his excellence.

But he subjected himself willingly to sin

and consequently to death and the curse,

lending his ear to the word of the devil.

For he transgressed the commandment of life,

which he had received,

and by his sin he separated himself from God,

who was his true life,

having corrupted his entire nature.

So he made himself guilty

and subject to physical and spiritual death,

having become wicked,


and corrupt in all his ways.

He lost all his excellent gifts

which he had received from God,

and he retained none of them

except for small traces

which are enough to make him


Moreover, all the light in us is turned to darkness,

as the Scripture teaches us:

“The light shone in the darkness,

and the darkness did not receive it.”

Here John calls men “darkness.”



This fateful chapter introduces a new character into the perfection of the garden, and this one is different. The serpent is described by a fascinating word, translated in most English Bibles as crafty.

You probably know lots of crafty people of one sort or the other, and they're likely a bit mischievous, but not to the extent that you'd describe them as "being enemies of God and everything good," the way our Confession described the devil and his angels.

That's why I like the word the NET Bible uses here, using the word shrewd to describe the serpent (The NET Bible is an excellent translation that I highly recommend). The word shrewd adds a malevolent twist to the serpent's crafty ingenuity.

The first thing this shrewd serpent did was exploit the woman's weakness. She hadn't been created yet when God conveyed His command to Adam to not eat of the tree in the middle of the garden. She was aware of the prohibition, which she recites to the serpent, but in doing she added a provision. God had said nothing about touching the tree, yet Eve reports to the serpent that not only must they not eat from the tree, they must not even touch it.

It was this doctrinal confusion that opened the door, and the shrewd serpent pounced on the opportunity immediately, casting God as a jealous and overbearing ogre bent on suppressing the man and woman. 'This fruit will open your eyes,' the shrewd serpent lied, 'and eating it will make you like God.'

Everything the woman could see corroborated what the serpent had said. The fruit was "good," "pleasing" and "desirable." So she took some. The serpent was right! Here she was, touching the very fruit she thought God had prohibited her from touching, and she was still alive! Maybe she could trust the serpent a little more?

So she ate it.

Dig Deeper

The woman is very much an unwitting victim of the serpent's deception at this point. Certainly she should have been more aware about what God had actually said, but the serpent seemed so... so crafty. She had been deceived, but the consequences were all the same as the shame of her sin set in.

But what about Adam? He stood right there beside her, seeing and hearing the very same things she did. Was he a victim too? As he wrote to Pastor Timothy thousands of years after the fact, the Apostle Paul makes a stunning revelation about what happened that fateful day in the garden:

Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. - 1 Timothy 2:14

What Paul is saying here is that while the woman's sin was the result of deception, Adam's wasn't. Eve wasn't certain about what God had and had not said, and she unwittingly fell victim to lies. But Adam? Adam knew exactly what he was doing when he took that first bite.

This is why our Confession says "Man gave ear to the words of the devil and willfully subjected himself to sin and consequently to death and the curse."

Like the serpent, man became shrewd. Adam was tired of simply reflecting an image, and here was the chance to start defining his image on his own, free from the constricting commands of his Creator. So he very deliberately took the fruit and ate.

Adam's willful disobedience had a direct effect upon your brain. We've mentioned this noetic effect of sin several times this year - the condition you inherited that makes sin seem so "good," "pleasing" and "desirable."

As you make your choices between obeying God and satisfying the shrewd desires of your sinful nature, be sure to utilize the new heart/mind that the Spirit has regenerated within you so you can recognize the massively devastating consequences sin causes and instead make choices that reflect the God whose image you've been created/re-created in.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Triune God who has made His expectations clear;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that your Spirit-given ability to think truthfully will overcome your sinful nature that shrewdly seeks to pull you into sin;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 8


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