HOLDING CAPTIVITY CAPTIVE: HOW GOD DECEIVED THE DECEIVER

It was not so much that the devil deceived Eve as that God deceived the devil into deceiving Eve.

I know you were taught that the devil deceived Eve at the dawn of creation.  But that is because our time-worn teachers have not grasped the full import of what happened in the Garden of Eden.  It was not so much that the devil deceived Eve as that God deceived the devil.  God deceived the devil into deceiving Eve.

One of the biggest mistakes the devil ever made was to deceive Eve.  If Eve had not been deceived, the devil would not have received God’s death sentence: “(Her descendants) will always be (your) enemies. One of hers will strike you on the head, and you will strike him on the heel.” (Genesis 3:15).

Hunger for God

The scriptures are a litany of people thirsting and hungering for God often without knowing it is God they need.  Collectively, they are one long, persistent and incessant cry for salvation.  Accordingly, Paul cries: “What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die?” (Romans 7:24).

It is God himself who was the architect of man’s predicament.  He put yearnings in the heart of man that the world could not meet.  Once Adam sinned, God unfolded a plan of salvation designed to teach us an eternal lesson.  This plan included sending the seed of Abraham into Egypt where they would be in bondage for over four hundred years.  Then God sent a deliverer in Moses who succeeded in giving the Israelites tests they did not pass and commandments they did not keep.

There came many other saviours.  There were saviours who helped to keep the Philistines at bay; saviours who helped to deliver the Jews from the hand of their enemies.  There were saviours of all kinds and descriptions.  But these saviours were mere men and therefore severely limited.  These saviours also needed salvation.  These saviours could heal the body but not the soul.  These saviours could neither save from life nor save from death.

Finally a Saviour is born, whose coming had long been foretold by the prophets, and whose arrival was heralded by angels.   What would be the big deal about this particular Saviour?  Why would his arrival bring “good tidings of great joy” not only to the Jews, but also to all people? (Luke 2:10-11).  Why are we still be talking about this very Saviour today, 2000 years later?

It is because this Saviour is no mere mortal.  This Saviour is Christ the Lord.  This Saviour is Jesus; the only begotten Son of God.

Stumbling stone

Nevertheless, Jesus himself turns out to be the biggest trap of all; not only for men but also for Satan.  The bible had prophesied about him: “He will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  And many among them shall stumble; they shall fall and be broken, be snared and taken.” (Isaiah 8:14-15). 

In this regard, the crucifixion of Jesus was the outcome of a monumental set-up by God.  Time and again, the devil tried to get Jesus killed, but he always managed to escape.  When Jesus was born, the devil caused Herod to kill all the children in Bethlehem from two years and less.  But before this heinous act could be executed, the angel came and told Jesus’ “parents” to flee with him to Egypt.

Much later on, the devil tried to get the Jews to throw Jesus down from the brow of a hill, but he easily escaped by passing through the middle of the crowd.  This hide-and-seek continued, leading the devil to the conclusion that all he had to do was to kill Jesus in order to short-circuit his ministry.

And then one day, Jesus allowed himself to be arrested.  Then he allowed himself to be killed.  And suddenly, the devil discovered that he had been suckered into working for God all along.  Suddenly, he discovered it was always God’s plan for Jesus to be killed.

Comeuppance

The wisdom of God meant that the greatest defeat of the devil was in the very victory he sought.  Thus Paul says: “We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8). 

The devil and his cohorts killed Jesus and they ended up with one, two, many “Jesuses” in the form of regenerated believers.  They killed the Lord of glory, but in the very killing was the redemption of mankind.  God used the plans of the devil against him and to his comeuppance.

Everything the devil did against Jesus turned out to be for the benefit of Jesus’ ministry.  Thus, Jesus’ apostles would later testify to God in prayer: “For truly against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:27-28).

It is not surprising therefore that Jesus himself encouraged Judas to go ahead and betray him without delay. (John 13:27).  Judas’ betrayal was treacherous, but it was intended.  His betrayal was heinous, but it nevertheless fulfilled the purpose God purposed for the salvation of mankind.  Through it, the devil, like Haman, was hoisted on his own petard.

Redemptive honour

God has been more honoured in man’s redemption than would have been the case if there had been no fall of man.  Through the redemption, the Lord displayed the majesty of his justice and the glory of his grace: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephesians 3:10).

Forgiven and regenerated, under the moulding influence of the Holy Spirit, the believer is now capable of virtues to which we could never have attained had we never sinned.  Adam could not have hated sin with the same abhorrence as today’s man or woman with a renewed heart.

Thanks paradoxically to Adam’s sin, we now behold with open faces the redemptive glory of God.  God in Christ did not dwell in Adam.  But now Christ is in us, and he is our hope of sharing in the glory of God. (Colossians 1:27).  Thanks to Jesus, death; the penalty for Adam’s sin, has now become our means of escape into the bosom of our heavenly Father.

If Eve had not been deceived, we would not have become partakers of God’s divine nature.  If Eve had not sinned, we would not now be blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ.

If Eve had not been deceived, we would have remained marooned in a garden.  Redeemed, we are now enthroned in a city; the city of God.  If Eve had not been deceived, a man would not now be in heaven, seated at the right hand of God.  This man, Christ Jesus, is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.

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