We're reading this evening from Genesis and chapter 3, the third chapter of Genesis, and we're beginning at verse 1. Genesis 3 and beginning to read at verse 1: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."
If you don't have a Bible don't worry about it, we'll be going through the passage together - but if you do I want you to follow it with me, for what is written there is very important for our gathering this evening. Just before we bow to look at the word of God, we will bow in prayer and ask God's help tonight, because we need Him more than anything this evening, and we come now and let's unite our hearts together - those of us who are God's people - and ask His help in prayer: Our great Father in Heaven, we come into Thy presence and we pray in and through the name of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ, that we may know Thy presence and that Thy presence may exclude all other presence. We pray that the evil one may be bound, we pray for the authority in the name of Jesus Christ, we pray for the blood of Christ to show its power here tonight in saving fullness. We pray for every believer to be armed, and shod with the very armour of God. And, Lord, we pray for the Holy Spirit of the living God to fall afresh on us. Fill us we pray, in Jesus name, Amen.
My message this evening is entitled simply: 'The Serpent'. There was a song written, some years ago now, by a Christian artist by the name of Keith Green. The song was written about the devil himself - Satan, Lucifer. The song went a bit like this, speaking as if Lucifer was speaking, it goes:
"My job keeps getting easier, as time keeps slipping away.
I can imitate the brightest light, and make the night look just like day.
I put some truth in every lie to tickle itching ears,
You know I'm drawing people just like flies, because they like what they hear.
I'm gaining power by the hour, they're falling by the score.
You know it's getting very simple now, since no one believes in me anymore.
I used to have to sneak around, but now they just open their doors.
You know no one's watching for my tricks, since no one believes in me anymore."
I wonder what you think, tonight, of the idea of 'the devil'. I wonder what you think, or what your mind conjures up, when someone mentions the name 'Lucifer, the Devil, Satan, the Evil One, the Wicked One' to you? Perhaps what you conjure up is what the media would conjure up, and make us to believe: that he is a horned being, like a humanoid with horns, with a tail, and with a pitchfork, and he's red. Is that the way Satan is? What way is he? Is he, as the Bible says, an angel of light? Is he a messenger of God who's gone bad? Or is he demonic in his likeness, in his features, in his appearance? What is the devil? Who is he like? What is he?
The Bible passage that we read together this evening, in Genesis chapter 3, gives us some of the story just after the creation of the world. The Bible says that when God created everything that He created in the world, He made a declaration about it, and He said that every single thing was very good. I want to tell you something, this evening, about this person, Satan: He hates everything that God has made. And immediately when God cried, "This is good, My creation is good", Satan wanted to make it bad, Satan wanted to destroy it. And right there in the Garden of Eden, as we read this evening, untried, innocent, Adam and Eve, a perfect man and a perfect woman - standing there in the garden in their perfect innocence and sinlessness - they face great subtly, and in verse 1 we read "The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made".
And this is the first thing that I want to bring to you this evening, it's simply this: the serpent. The serpent, who was the serpent? Verse 1 begins with the word 'now', and in the Hebrew language that the Old Testament was written in, that word could also be 'and'. It's like a continuation from chapter 2, and the reason for it is simply this: that in chapter 2 everything, all of God's creation, is declared beautiful and good. But as we go into chapter 3 we see that something happened - where, if you like, God's beautiful oil painting of creation was finished, it was achieved, God was pleased with it, but something tragic happened. And in chapter 3, as it were, someone took their dirty paws and just smeared all of God's picture, God's creation. But the reason why that little word 'and' or 'now' is there is simply this: that chapter 3 shows that it was a very creature, it was one of God's creatures that He had called good, that came in and that smeared His beautiful work of art.
Who was that creature? It says, in verse 1, that it was the serpent. My friends, I don't want you to get a picture of the serpent tonight as a snake as we know it, something that is rotten, something that you wouldn't go near, something that you would be fearful of. But, my friends, God said in chapter 2 of Genesis, that everything that He had made - including the serpent - that it was good. And as you, tonight, would look at that serpent, as it was in chapter 2, you would see a beautiful creature - a creature with finely detailed, intricate colourful skin and scales. It was one of God's, perhaps, most beautiful and delicate creatures. But this, folks, is the truth about the serpent: that in that garden something supernatural happened - and it's happening all over our world today - where Lucifer himself, by his spirit, entered into this serpent, this beast of the field. And that thing that was beautiful, and remained on the outside to be beautiful, to be attractive, to be covered in delicate beauty - but in, within its depths of its being, it was the most evil creature that ever was.
Satan has not changed. Young people, Satan hasn't changed. There is nothing new under the sun, the Bible says, and Satan certainly hasn't any new plans to come at you with, he has no new plans to deceive the world - because still today in our world he comes, the Bible says, as an angel of light. Right there in the beginning, when God created Lucifer, he was a good creature also, he was the most beautiful creature God created, and he served God. If you like, he was God's 'right hand man' in heaven. And what gets most of us here on this earth, at sometime, got him right at his heart, right in the depths of his soul, it started to rot him - he had pride within him. And in heaven, it says in the word of God, he wanted to be greater than God, he wanted to ascend above God, he wanted to be like God, and immediately he did that God said 'Get out' and cast him out of heaven - and he became a fallen spiritual being.
Satan has not changed, because he is still the angel of light. And you know it more than I do tonight, friend. Unsaved person here, those who are not born again, those who are in the world, living in the world, and the things of the world, you know as well as I do - and all the Christians here know - that the things of the world are so attractive. The drink of the world, the places of the world, the discos, the raves, the dances, the entertainment, the music, the fashion of the world. Everything in the world, it has the bright lights, it has the nice music, it appeals to our senses, it appeals to us - something within us - and we wander after it like a moth after a light, only to find that after it all, behind the appearance of light, behind the appearance of attraction, there is a deadly venom that will get us all if we will let it! Often Satan and his devices are attractive, but when we follow after them it's like a mouse trap that attacks, a bite that we cannot hold and, before we know it, it's too late and we've gone deeper into that sin, we've gone deeper into that attraction - until we are between the jaws of the serpent himself.
Friends tonight, nature tells of it, nature testifies it. Some of the most beautiful creatures on God's earth are the most deadly. You might learn at science that the insects of the Amazon, those that are the most detailed colours of yellow and black - beautiful to look upon - are the ones that will take you from this earth to eternity quicker! Some of the most beautiful plants that you could ever look at, they are the deadliest - even to touch some of them, when the very poison and venom comes upon your skin it will kill you within hours! My friend tonight, take the warning of even nature, if you don't even believe the word of God, that at times within our lives, some of the most beautiful, attractive things to us can be the deadliest.
Sure that's why the Lord Jesus Christ called Satan himself: the liar from the beginning. He comes in disguise and that's why, as Keith Green said in the song, that's why no one believes in him anymore. 'Huh, Satan? A personal Satan? I believe in evil and I believe in wrong - but to imagine a one spiritual being, a person who has imagined all this evil up, who is conjuring it, who is plotting, who is following after the souls of men, who one day will go to hell, and will take as many people with him as possible? Get real! That's not reality! That's not the real world!'
My friend, could I ask you a few questions tonight? The Bible describes Lucifer, Satan, as a serpent for some reason. One of the reasons is this, the first reason is that: a serpent - an ordinary snake of the field - it fascinates its victim. The snake has intriguing power, to look upon it is beautiful, it's almost hypnotic. The cobra as it mounts up in the air, as it spreads its neck and as it looks into your very eyes, it can almost hypnotize you - snakes intrigue and fascinate their victims. And if you're here tonight, my friend, and you're in the world, you know - I don't need to ask you, I know it tonight - that you are fascinated. You are titillated, you are intrigued, you are aroused by the things that this world offers you - and it may well, without you realizing it, have you in its grip!
Another thing about snakes is that they fasten their eyes upon you. And you might not be aware of the presence of a snake, within a building, or within a mud hut, or within a room - but, friend, that doesn't matter. And you may not be aware tonight that Satan is here, that Satan is even in parts of your life, even in parts of your every day walk, and his eyes are fastened upon you, he wants to make you his prey - you mightn't think it, you mightn't want to think it, friend, but that matters not.
The third thing about snakes is this: that they are noiseless creatures. That they approach you unaware, unseen, they come low, they come unexpectedly, you may not know they're there. And my friend tonight, my unsaved friend, you might think that Satan, if he's even there, if he's even real and alive, that he's nowhere near you. Maybe everything's going well financially, with your health, with your family, with your career, in the place that you live - but friend that could be the deadliest lie of Satan ever, because do you not even see that in that very lie, he has you in his clutches! He's telling you that there's nothing to be worried about, he's telling you that there's nothing to fear, that all is well, that everything is going on as it ever will go on, or ever has gone on, nothing will change, there is nothing at threat.
The fourth thing about a snake is this: that it can perplex. In wild and cycling folds it can come to you - and one minute it's over here, and another minute it's over there, and then it's behind you, then it's in front of you - and a snake can come at you from all angles. Now I know that there are people in our world tonight and they feel that trouble, and evil, and everything is coming at them from every angle, every area, every compartment of their life and they don't know what to do about it - is that you tonight? For it could be that it is Satan and his devices.
Another similarity between Satan and a snake is this: he is capable, he is capable of crushing. Maybe some of you have seen the Boa Constrictors how they can come around you - and some of them can even do it without you feeling them touching you, without your awareness of it - and before you know it, they have crushed the very breath out of your body until you are dead! The snake, the naturalists tell us, is a creature that can lie dead - apparently dead - for months on end. And maybe you're here tonight, saying: 'What's this preacher going on about? Satan? Such a laugh, such nonsense!'. My friend, let me tell you tonight, that if you believe that, if you have let that lie take root in your very soul, Satan has won! Satan has gained the victory in your life, because you believe the greatest lie: that he is not there.
When roused the snake can out-climb, it can out-swim, it can out-wrestle any animal in God's kingdom. And my friend, if you don't realize the clutches you're in tonight if you're not saved, if you don't realize the power that the devil has in your life - even without you knowing it - you won't know it until it's too late. One very solemn fact about a snake is this, tonight: that snakes do not hunt their victims. What do I mean by that? I mean simply this: snakes, serpents, wait 'til their victims come to them. And without you knowing, with that small sin that you think hasn't got a hold of you, with that thing that intrigues you, that's pulling you in - like a line bringing a fish into the catch - before you know it, my friend, it could have hold of your whole life, your very soul and spirit.
Snakes have the habit of finding their way into every corner, and through every barrier, and every crevice, under everything that you could have in your home - and friend tonight, Satan will do that. If you give him an inch he will take a mile, if you think you've only given him a little bit of your life, or a little bit of your pleasure, or a little bit of your senses, listen: eventually the great serpent of the word of God will be into every area of your life.
Satan is like a raven, Satan is like a vulture - he is the scavenger of the dead souls of men and women, those who are not saved. He is the parasite that comes and links himself, and feeds himself off your life, and off your sin, and off your wickedness, and off the things that you don't think harm anyone but yourself. Are you there tonight my friend? Are you under a sin or under a habit - whether it be of mind, of body, of soul - whatever it may be, are you under it tonight, and you can't get away from it? No matter what you do, no matter how many advice places you call into, no matter how many groups you sit around with and exchange their problems, no matter how many people you talk to, churches you go to, you can't get shot of it. Perhaps, indeed I don't say perhaps, but I say definitely, Satan, subtly, like an enemy army - do you know what he's doing to your life? He's surveying the ground, he's surveying the walls of the city of your life and he's looking for the crevices, he's looking for the breaks, he's looking for the lowest part of the wall that he can scale, he's looking for the part - the weakest bit - that he can break through and take over.
Satan sold humanity three lies in the Garden of Eden, and the first one was this: God doesn't love you. Verse 1, God doesn't love you. How could God love you, if He won't let you have something? That's what the cry of many Christian young people is today: 'If God doesn't allow me to do this, how can He say He loves me?'. Maybe you're a backslider tonight and that's what you're saying. That's what Satan said in the Garden of Eden.
The second lie that he sold humanity was this: You shall not surely die. And there are people walking around our world today, and you'd think they were never going to die by the things that they build up, in materials, and in money, and in pleasures that they make, and luxuries for themselves - you'd think they would live for ever! And indeed, perhaps, built into all of us tonight, is this feeling that we will never die. You never think about dying, perhaps, in the future - especially for the young people, it's just not something that you think about. It's not something on your horizon and perhaps this evening, Satan has dealt you the card - the lie - that you shall not surely die.
And the third lie that he sold humanity was this: Ye shall be as gods. You will be as gods! You might say, 'David I don't believe I'm a god'. But let me ask you tonight: who decides your destiny? Do you think this evening, that you're in charge of your life? That you plan things? That you will decide - perhaps [like] some people I believe, tonight, are even walking about with the preconceived idea that they are in control of the very day that they die. They think that they are gods in charge of their own life. My friend tonight, I know that Satan, the Bible says that Satan is the prince of the power of the air - that means that he inhabits the air space, he inhabits the sky. And I know that tonight he is around our town, he is in our town, he may well even be here this evening, and he doesn't like what he's hearing, and the Bible says that he's like a roaring lion - and one thing that we know about lions is this: that in the jungle, when the thunder and the lightning roars, the lion roars louder. And this evening as the word of God is read, and as it is preached, and as Jesus Christ will be preached tonight, Satan is hearing the thunder and lightning of the Gospel - and I know this evening, that he is shouting into both of your ears, into your soul: 'Don't listen! I can give you more!'.
Oh, the serpent is the deadly deceiver, but I don't just want you to just see the serpent in this passage, I want you to see the sin in the passage. Because the serpent said to the man and woman 'Yea, hath God said?' - and what he did was, he excited their interests. And they thought 'Perhaps, perhaps God hasn't said this. Perhaps this is legitimate, perhaps it's legal'. And what he did was, he created a doubt in his mind, and being devious he said that God had told them that they couldn't eat of every tree - but sure God didn't tell them that. God told them they could eat of every tree, except the one - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And then, what they began to think was, that God was begrudging them enjoyment, God was robbing them of a pleasure, God was denying them something that would make them feel good, and they began to doubt God's wisdom - maybe that's you tonight - and God's goodness in their life and they began to think, 'I know better than God. I know what to do, I know what way my life should go'. And gradually sin weakened their loyalty, and their thinking, and their perception of their God.
And, in verse 4 and 5, we see that Satan's words were so ambiguous, because he told them, 'If you take of this fruit your eyes will be opened!', and Satan was right - but he was wrong. He was right in the sense that their eyes were opened, but when they were opened they didn't see what they thought they would see. They didn't see a vision of bright glory, and beauty, and what they would be as gods someday, perhaps inhabiting heaven - but the Bible said they saw their own nakedness, and what a sight that was. Oh, but sure Eve had only looked - she'd only looked at the fruit - and it looked good, and she took it; and then she felt, that'd be good to eat, the lust of the flesh, she felt, 'I'd love to experience that'; and then the pride of life within her, she said 'It might make me feel better. I might feel more satisfied, I might feel a purpose in my life, meaningfulness'. But when it happened, and when their eyes were opened - and maybe you feel like this tonight - they saw things that they could never dream, they saw evils, and perversions, and dastardly ways of sinning that they could never imagine were possible! And their absolute fright in the face of God says that, in verse 10, they ran and Adam says, 'I hid myself'.
And maybe tonight my friend you're hiding. Maybe you're hiding from your sin, you don't know how to stop it, it's got a grip of you, you don't know what to do. Maybe you're hiding from Satan. Maybe tonight, as Adam was, you're hiding from God! And you don't want to deal with your sin, you don't want to face God and have done with your sin, and put it behind you. My friend, I'm so convinced of the sinfulness of mankind, tonight, that I believe that a soul, a soul that is in hell tonight that has never had the voice of God talk to them, and the soul that has never been reached by the saving power of Jesus Christ and they're in hell tonight - if they were able to come out of hell, and live for another lifetime, without God speaking to them, they would run to their sin as usual. I believe that. You see sin is like a sword, sin is like famine, sin is like disease, sin is like the coal that blackens, it burns, sin rots our names and reputations, it eats our body, it eats our morality, it eats our family, it destroys everything we have. Sin, in the Garden of Eden, it put the barrier between man and God, it unsheathed the sword of violence and bathed it in the human blood of men and women, and boys and girls. Sin dug the first grave. My friend, tonight, have you ever thought that if it were not for sin, you wouldn't know a person who had been widowed, you wouldn't know of an orphan tonight, you would never have seen any tears, heard any sighs, experienced any sorrows and any death.
And the results of sin, we see from this passage in verse 8, was remorse: oh, they were sorry. And in verse 9 they discovered things they never hoped to discover: evil, and selfishness, they began to blame one another, it was her fault, it was the serpent's fault. And then they had sorrow, and eventually in verse 19, we read that it brought death. You might say, 'David, you're talking about great sin tonight' - I'm talking about all sin, my friend!
There's an Indian story about a little dwarf, and he came to the king one day, and he said: 'King, if I can take three steps of your kingdom can I have the land that I step over?' - a little dwarf. The King said, 'Surely', and in one large leap that small dwarf spanned, and shot up into a massive giant, and in the first step he took all the oceans, in the second step he took all the land, and in the third step he knocked the very King off his throne! Are you sure, this evening, my friend that your little sin is not like that?
But finally, tonight friends, I want you not just to see a serpent, and not just to see a sin, but - praise God, tonight! - I want you to see a Saviour! For this passage says that, in verse 15, God promised - right there when they fell into the mud bath of their own degradation and depravity - God said, 'I'm going to save you!'. He says, 'I'm going to crush Satan's head, Satan will ambush My Son's heel, but I'm going to crush him, I'm going to destroy him and I'm going to save you'.
You might ask me tonight, 'David, well when's this going to happen? Oh, I'm so destroyed with my sin, it's got the hold of me. David, when's this going to happen?'. Listen my friend: this has happened! And - praise God, tonight! - we can declare to Satan, we can declare to the world and all evil, that Jesus Christ has triumphed over death and hell! And from the grave He rose and defeated death itself - the grave - and we can say tonight: 'Death where is thy sting? Oh, grave where is thy victory?' - hallelujah! For at that cross of Calvary, where Jesus was hung between heaven and earth and where He was like - if you like - the lightning director, where God directed the sins of man upon Him and judged Him, where God punished Him, where God put your sins and my sins on Him, where He took your place - have you ever heard that my friend tonight? - for the sins that have grabbed hold of you, for the sins that Satan is pouring upon you - Jesus Christ on the cross suffered for them all!
And I can almost see Him tonight, His very spirit, after He cried, 'It is finished!', and He gave up the ghost, as He hung on the cross - His body died, but His spirit, I can almost see it pouncing off the cross, and Satan - who must have been sitting there thinking: 'We've got Him! We've dealt a deadly blow to the Son of God, He's dead, He will never save the world now!' - I can see Christ jumping down, and grabbing him, and taking him to glory, and setting him at the feet of God the Father and saying: 'Your work is done Father!'. And Jesus led captivity - the one who captivated all humanity - He led him to heaven, and set all mankind free.
My friends, on May 21st 1946 a man called Louis Slaughton (sp?) and seven others carried out a dangerous experiment in Mexico. He was using pieces of plutonium, which become deadly radioactive when enough of it comes together, near one another. And accidentally as they were carrying out this experiment, two pieces, two pieces nuggeted themselves together - just close enough for a large surge of radioactivity to fill the whole room. And Louis Slaughton - realizing the deadly nature of this - he ran and with his own bare hands, he moved and pulled those two pieces of plutonium apart from one another. And when he did that he exposed himself to a deadly amount of radioactivity and a few days later he died - but the seven other men, they lived.
Listen friend tonight, I'm finished but I just want to say this: you have no need for Satan to keep hold of your life. The sins that are binding you, my friend listen: Jesus took them at the cross of Calvary, Jesus suffered for them! Perhaps what you're going through now, you don't need to go through it, because Christ went through it at the cross. The judgement upon your body that sin is wrecking, the judgement upon your soul, upon the depths of your being - Jesus Christ took it all, He bore your iniquity on Him. What will you do tonight? Will you come to Him? Will you confess your sin? Will you leave it at the cross of Calvary and just say simply, listen: 'Lord Jesus, save me' - and my friend, He'll do it and He'll free you from sin for all eternity. Glory to His name.
Let us pray - and let me ask you tonight, if your head's bowed and God has been speaking to you - heed His call. And if you've heard His voice tonight, harden not your heart for He never might give you a chance again to hear it. I have booklets, and I'll have them at the door, they're absolutely free - why not take one, and read a little more about how you can be saved? If you want to get saved tonight, you can do it here and now where you are, where you stand. If you want to talk to us, we're free, just talk to us at the door and we'll come into a private place and speak with you. But my friend tonight, get saved, heed the Saviour's voice while He calls.
Our Father we pray that Thou wilt give grace, that Thou wilt bind the strong man here tonight, and Lord that Thou mayest set the captives free. Those that are even unaware of the hold that the very one of darkness may have upon their life, we pray tonight that they may experience the knowledge of it by knowing the freedom that Christ brings. Lord come and liberate, and lead captivity captive, consummate Thy work on the cross tonight, we pray, through the salvation of sinners. Come by Thy Spirit we ask Thee and take us all now to our homes in safety for Christ's sake. Amen.
Judith Watkins for
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Portadown Baptist Church in Portadown, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "The Serpent" - Transcribed by Judith Watkins, Preach The Word.
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