“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field, which the Lord God had made: and he said to the woman, Yea, hath God indeed said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
“And the woman said unto the serpent, We 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.
“Then the serpent said to the woman, Ye shall not die at all, But God doth know that when ye shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
“So the woman (seeing that the tree was good for meat, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired, to get knowledge) took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her, and he did eat” (Genesis 3:1-6, Geneva Bible, 1599).
God’s prophetic truth has been the object of Satanic warfare since the days of Genesis 3. The fundamental goal of spiritual warfare, in general, is to keep humanity from faith in God. Key strategies employed by the Adversary include provoking doubt about God’s immanence, slandering His character, and denying the truth of His Word.
Paul’s articulation of humanity’s basis for relating with God in Hebrews 11:6 reveals the genius of these strategies: “…without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that God is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek him.” Doubting God’s integrity, or—worse yet—doubting God’s existence, completely short-circuits faith. Since faith is the basis for relating with God, the Adversary does all he can to undermine it.
While targeting faith can be said to be Satan’s master strategy, the first instance of this fight in Genesis 3 describes a clear order of battle in this warfare. This might be seen as a “principle of first mention” sort of hermeneutic, but I am not using that narrative in the manner that many do. My description of the Genesis order of battle isn’t a matter of merely interpreting words, though that might be an interesting and fruitful study. What I wish to do, rather, is examine what was said and done in Genesis 3:1-6. I believe the passage reveals a readily identifiable methodology in Satan’s efforts to separate people from God. Furthermore, I think that methodology continues in use today. If you know what to look for, the Genesis 3 Gambit shows up everywhere.
The Biblical record marks the start of hostilities in Genesis 3:1 as the Serpent challenged God’s Genesis 2:17 warning—a prophetic warning—that Adam (and Eve) would die immediately upon eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
While there are by now thousands of exegeses of what I call the “Genesis 3 Gambit,” I want to describe five steps in Satan’s assault on our first parents:
Question what God said. “Did God really say that you cannot eat from every tree of the garden?” This initial question contained a lie (God said you can’t eat from any  of the trees), setting up cognitive dissonance.
1. Eve  could have stopped the assault at this point by rejecting that lie, but instead accepted the false premise and let herself be set up for Step 2.
2. Contradict what God said. Eve’s cognitive dissonance (set up in Step 1) provided a conducive environment for an even more egregious lie—”You shall not die at all.” The result was a dialectic,  i.e., a false equivalence between two irreconcilable ideas, that is, God’s Word on the matter versus Satan’s distortion of that. The manufactured truth—antitruth equivalence enabled the abandonment of truth altogether. We are about to step into very deep water at this point.
3. Assert a sub rosa motive for what God said—slander God’s character and establish a false division between God and Eve. Satan’s argument was that God was unfairly denying Eve a good thing; she had to take it for herself. The result was that Eve now perceived that God was lying and that she had to act apart from her vital relationship with God for her own good.
4. Assert a different outcome. Eve believed that she would, in fact, not die after eating from the proscribed tree. If death wasn’t to follow, reaching for the brass ring of being able to distinguish good from evil on her own made sense.
5. Promise an alternative benefit. Eve was convinced that once she acted independently of God, she would be like Him. What a masterful tactic—dangling the possibility of being a better person without God! It seems only slightly less insane of a leap when understood in light of Steps 1 through 4.
Interestingly, Satan created two “wedge” issues in Steps 2 and 3. The first, employed in Step 2, was the notion that what God said was untrue. That first wedge issue provided an opening for the follow-on wedge: “God is holding out on you.” It may be easy in hindsight for me to say that Eve could have shut the attack down by rejecting the Serpent’s assertions that God wasn’t truthful or that Eve could do better on her own, but this could have been done in Steps 1 (questioning what God said), 2 (contradicting what God said), and 3 (slandering God and setting up a false division between Eve and God). Let’s see how I fare the next time it’s used on me!
We are all left with the devastating outcome—the Father of Lies has only ever stolen, killed and destroyed, and the prophetic word from Genesis 2:16:17 all the way through Revelation 22:21 has been similarly questioned, distorted, denied, and diminished to the horrible detriment of humanity across the ages.
In summary, every prophetic forth-telling in the Word of God has been the object of this five-step warfare:
- “Did God really say that?” (a question based on a false premise)
- “No, what (I say) God said isn’t true.”
- “God isn’t being transparent in saying that. God really wants something different. This is what you must do instead.”
- “It’s not going to happen the way God said it would.”
- “This is how you’ll benefit from doing what I say.”
It seems to me that every false doctrine—every perversion of Christian truth and practice—has its roots in this five-step attack. More germane to my overall point, though, is the importance of how the Genesis 3 Gambit has been used so commonly against the reception of God’s prophetic Word, especially concerning the end times, and particularly in our time. The stakes in this struggle over what to believe can’t be higher.
Returning to Hebrews 11:6 (Whoever comes to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him), it may be easy to understand how the Genesis 3 Gambit is designed to keep us from a vital relationship with God. The Gambit’s objective is this: We don’t come to God because we don’t believe He exists and/or are fundamentally deceived about His attributes. Moreover, we misunderstand what it is to seek God in faith.
Furthermore, if I’m not perceiving Bible prophecy on the basis of God’s truthfulness and of clear interpretability of what He has said, I can’t “ask without wavering” (James 1:6); I’ll be unstable in all my ways, and I shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord.
But thank God for His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of prophecy, prophecy being the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 19:10)! God never gives up on us. As long as we have breath, He showers us with His Word; He brings us back with singing; His kindness leads us to change our minds; His mercies are always new; and His love endures forever.
If you’re in a James 1:2-8 bind, you can trust God to teach you; you can “let patience do its perfect work” as your faith is purified because difficulties in life lead you to trust Him more. He will forge you into a perfect and complete person who lacks nothing. The Genesis 3 Gambit won’t work on you because the Lord is your Shepherd, and you won’t lack any good thing (Ps. 23:1).
In Part 3 of this Prophecy Wars series, I will apply the Genesis 3 Gambit template to some key aspects of the Adversary’s warfare against Bible prophecy and its interpretation, especially during the Church Age.
Dear reader, if you haven’t yet trusted in Jesus Christ to save and transform you, there is still time and opportunity to do so at this moment. You’ve come to RaptureReady for a reason—call upon the name of the Lord, and you will be saved!
Dr. Jeffrey Ady is a retired university professor, published author, and served as an ordained minister for 20 years. Email: KaweahKid@protonmail.com
 The Hebrew עֵץ—”ates” (wood (plural sticks):— carpenter, gallows, helve, pine, plank, staff, stalk, stick, stock, timber, tree, wood) is rendered variously with a definite article and without, so both “every” and “any” provide important meaning in Satan’s question: Its premise was demonstrably false.
 I use “Eve” in this narrative because she was Satan’s primary target in the Genesis 3 account. However, I doubt that Adam was out of earshot mowing alfalfa or milking cows. I am certain he had to be close enough to Eve to not be taken by surprise. She handed Adam the fruit after taking a bite. He could have stepped in at any point.
 See my review of the evolving concept of the “Dialectic” in Prophecy Wars, Part 1: The War Against Prophetic Truth.