“Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?“—Genesis 3:1
It is the grand masterpiece of that wisdom which is earthly, sensual, devilish, to call in question the truth of God’s word; to insinuate a doubt about it. But here appears more modesty even in Satan, than in some of his servants; for he only puts a query upon it, whereas they absolutely deny and ridicule the truths of Jehovah. In the same way that the old serpent attacked and prevailed against the innocence of our first parents, he still attempts to destroy the comforts and oppose the holiness of God’s children by artful suggestions against the truth of God’s word. If he can but raise a doubt in our minds concerning what the Lord hath spoken, he strikes at the very foundation of our faith, hope, love, and obedience. As he abode not in the truth, he is a restless implacable enemy to the truth, and to every soul who embraces the truth as in Jesus.
Really, one finds Satan like a laborious domestic chaplain, preaching in season, and out of season, in one’s ears: “Hath the Lord spoken this? hath he forbidden that? how can this doctrine be true? it is so contrary to reason, so inconsistent with the nature of things; you a child of God? you a believer in Jesus? your sins atoned for by Jesus? your soul clothed with his righteousness and sanctified by his Spirit? Is not everlasting love mere imagination? electing grace, the creature of fancy? the safety and perseverance of the saints of Jesus, the whim of a heated brain? is Jesus the essentially true God? hath the Lord spoken so much against sin? doth he contrary to the rest of the world, and exposes to their hatred and contempt? hath God said so and so?”
Thus with art and sophistry, he insinuates and puts on the air of a candid disputant for truth. What did Eve get by listening to him, and conversing with him? rather, what did she not lose? even the life, the love, the joy, the peace of her soul. It is our wisdom not to parley with or study to answer Satan’s suggestions, but instantly to “resist him steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9)— taking the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, wherein is contained the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, being able to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:16).
See how the prince of darkness tries
All his malicious arts;
He spreads a mist around my eyes,
And throws his fi’ry darts.
O thou my sun, and thou my shield,
My soul in safety keep;
Make haste, before mine eyes are seal’d
In death’s eternal sleep.
William Mason (1719-1791)
A Spiritual Treasury for the Children of God