Word Attacks Word

Genesis 3:2

“He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say’, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

Luther’s Commentary
“Human reasoners dispute also concerning the nature of this temptation, as to what it really was; whether our first parents sinned by idolatry or by pride or by self-security or simply by eating the fruit. But if we consider these things a little more carefully, as we ought to do, we shall find that this temptation was the most awful and the most bitter of all temptations. Because the serpent attacked the good will of God itself, and endeavored to prove by this very prohibition from the tree of life that the will of God toward man was not good. The serpent therefore attacks the image of God itself. He assails those highest and most perfect powers, which in the newly-created nature of Adam and Eve were as yet uncorrupted. He aims at overturning that highest worship of God, which God himself had just ordained. In vain therefore do we dispute about this sin or that. For Eve is enticed unto all sins at once, when she is thus enticed to act contrary to the Word and the will of God.”
 
“Moses therefore speaks here most considerately, when he uses the expression, ‘And the serpent said.’ Here, word attacks word. The word which the Lord had spoken to Adam was, ‘Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat.’ This Word was to Adam the Gospel, and the law thus given was his worship. It was a service and an obedience which in this state of innocence Adam was able to render unto God. These are the Divine things Satan attacks. These are the things he aims at overturning. Nor does he merely intend, as those think who know nothing of the matter, to point out the tree to Eve and to invite her to pluck the fruit. He does indeed point to the tree, but he does something far worse than this. He adds another and a new word, as it is his practice to do at the present day in the Church.”
 
“This temptation, when Satan attacks the Word and the works of God, is by far the heaviest and most dangerous; and that temptation the most intimately concerns the Church and the saints. It was in this manner therefore that Satan attacked Adam and Eve on this solemn occasion. His aim was to tear away from them the Word, in order that giving up the Word and their confidence in God, they might believe a lie. When this takes place what wonder is it if a man afterwards becomes proud, a despiser of God, an adulterer or anything else? This temptation therefore is the head and chief of all temptations. It brings with it the breach and the violation of the whole ten commandments. For unbelief is the fountain-source of all sins. When Satan has brought a man under this temptation and has wrested from him or corrupted in his heart the Word, he may do anything with him. Thus when Eve had suffered the Word to be beaten out of her heart by a lie, she found no difficulty whatever in approaching the tree and plucking from it the fruit.”
 
“The sum of the whole temptation and her fall by it was that she listened to another word. and departed from that word which God had spoken to her, which was that if she did eat of the tree she should surely die. But let us now contemplate the words of Moses in the order in which we find them. In the first place Satan here imitates God. For as God had preached to Adam, so Satan now also preaches to Eve. For perfectly true is that saying of the proverb, ‘All evil begins in the name of God.’ Just therefore as salvation comes from the pure Word of God, so perdition comes from the corrupted Word of God. And just as Eve, when she listened to the devil, calling the command of God into doubt fell; so it continually happens that we, by listening to him, are brought to doubt whether God is willing that we, when heavily oppressed with sin and death, should be saved by Christ; and thus, being misled and deceived, we suffer ourselves to be induced to put on cowls and cloaks in order that we may be crowned of God with salvation on account of our works of perfection.”
 
Martin Luther. Luther on the Creation: A Critical and Devotional Commentary on Genesis [1-3] (Kindle Locations 4333-4410).
 
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