Tempting Trivia

It would make a great Bible trivia question: “What is the only time mentioned in the Bible where the devil speaks directly to a human being?”

The answer: In Genesis, chapter three where the devil speaks directly to Eve:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” [2] And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, [3] but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” [4] But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. [5] For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [6] So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:1-6)

We have in Scripture the devil speaking to God on more than one occasion. He spoke to God in the first two chapters of Job. Job was a righteous man in everything he did. The devil said that Job was righteous because God had given him so many blessings. Take away Job’s blessings, all his family and possessions and take away his health and he will abandon you, the devil said to God. So God allowed the devil to take everything away from Job, but Job did not denounce God as the devil predicted he would.

And the devil also spoke directly to God when he tempted Jesus, who is God and man, in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13)

After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus responded with, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)

The devil did not just talk to Jesus, he also moved him around. He took Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple and urged him to jump off. After all, the devil said, God will send his angels to protect you. It says so right in Psalm 91:11-12. Jesus responds with another Scripture: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7)

Finally, the devil takes him to a high mountain and shows him all the kingdoms of the earth and their glory. He promises to give them all to Jesus if Jesus would worship him. To this Jesus responds, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10)

So these are the times recorded in Scripture when the devil speaks directly to God but only in Genesis 3 is the devil allowed to talk to humans.

Now that does not mean it did not happen. Scripture does not tell us everything that happened to God’s people, only what we need to know. I do know that Martin Luther had some very vivid battles with the devil during his life.

Before the fall into sin, I can imagine God thinking, “I created Adam and Eve perfectly without sin and I gave them everything they could possibly need in the beautiful Garden of Eden. I suppose it would be okay to let the devil talk directly to Eve. I have given them everything they need and showed them beyond a doubt that I love them, there is no way they would fall for the devil’s lies.”

But in fact they did fall for his lies.

Then after the fall I can imagine God thinking, “Well, that did not go very well so I will never permit the devil to talk to humans directly again.”

Just because the devil does not talk to us directly anymore does not mean he does not have influence on us. There are countless other ways that he can influence us. There is our sinful flesh, there are the multitude enticements that the world has to offer.

As he did with Jesus, he tempts us to put our physical needs above our spiritual needs. He tempts us with worldly glory if we just worship him. He tempts us to put the Lord to the test by risky behavior.

And so many times we have failed. I can’t imagine being as strong as Job; losing all my possessions and family and health and still keeping my faith in God.

The only successful defense against the devil is what Jesus used, the Word of God. We do not need any extraordinary means. The one thing the devil wants us to believe is that God does not love us anymore because of our frequent failures. That simply is not true. God will always love us. He forgave Adam and Eve and promised them a Savior. In Christ he conquered sin, death and the devil for us.

As another pastor in the same Bible study asked, “What is the Word of God?” For today’s modern people with our smart phones and ability to Google anything, does the Bible have any relevance? That’s just another sign that the devil is winning. He is doing a great job of making people think that the best weapon against him is worthless.

I can assure you that if the devil ever does try to talk to you it is going to be a conversation that involves Scripture. As he did with Eve, he will try to twist Scripture to get us to fall for his lies.

In Romans chapter 5 Paul gives us a good summary of all of Scripture:

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. [19] For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”(Romans 5:18-19)

The sin of Adam and Eve brought condemnation for all men. The one act of righteousness, Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins and his resurrection from the dead, leads to justification and life for all men. That’s really all we need to know about Scripture. This is the truth that the devil cannot withstand.

And through faith in Jesus not only are we forgiven our many sins, we also have the great privilege of talking directly to God. Through Jesus we become God’s beloved children so talking to God is no different than a beloved child talking to his or her loving father.

Whether or not he talks to us directly or attacks us in other ways, the devil is always at work to destroy our faith in Christ. Don’t try to fight him on your own. Turn always to the Word of God.


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