Are You Under the Influence?
The story of Adam and Eve is so popular that even unbelievers are familiar. Like many stories that get told over time, things can get lost in translation. Sometimes, people say that the serpent gave Eve the fruit, or that he offered her the fruit. However, when we read this passage closely, the serpent never actually gives or offers Eve the fruit. So how did Eve end up with the fruit?
The passage begins with the serpent simply posing a question:
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And
he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
Here, the serpent does not give a directive to Eve. He simply proposes a question to her to cause her to rethink the instruction that God had given. In response, Eve explains the commandment that God gave:
Genesis 3:2-3 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may 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
Eve explains that if she eats from the tree or even touches it, then she will die. Next, is where the serpent presents the very first false doctrine given to mankind. He tells Eve that she can sin against God and not die:
Genesis 3:4-5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day
ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Notice, that the serpent didn't tell her to eat the fruit. He simply presented an alternative to what she was taught. He told her that she can sin against God and not die. He also painted God as the bad guy by accusing him of being a liar. This stirred up certain desires within Eve which she probably didn't know existed, which we can see from her response:
Genesis 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and
a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband
with her; and he did eat.
Eve sees the fruit and comes to a conclusion. She concludes that the tree is good for food, pleasant to the eyes, and most importantly, able to make one wise. Under her own reasoning, Eve took the fruit, ate it, and gave it to her husband. The thing about Eve's decision is that it was based on the serpent's influence.
The World's First Influencer
Influence can be defined as the power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways (Merriam Webster). A second definition defines it as the act or power of producing an effect without apparent exertion of force or direct exercise of command. Notice, the word power is found in both definitions. There is a certain type of power that influence carries, but it is not the bold, forceful, and coercive power that we're used to. Instead, influence can be a more subtle and cunning way to wield power. This is why the devil chose to operate through the serpent, which was the most subtle creature that God had made.
The etymology of the word influence gives us an even deeper understanding. The latin prefix "in-" means "into" and the latin word "fluere" means "to flow". So, the literal breakdown of influence means to flow into or inflow. So, influence is only as good as proximity because you have to be in the flow to be impacted. Eve was influenced by the serpent because he got close enough to flow into her. So, here are some questions for all of us. Who or what am I letting flow into me? Who am I close enough to that is having an impact on me even in a subtle way?
These are important questions because the power of influence is that it's not always obvious. Oftentimes, it's happening on a subconscious level. It's not uncommon to spend a lot of time with someone and begin to take on their mannerisms, speech, or ideas. People from other countries often say that their accent becomes stronger when they visit home. There are all types of flows and frequencies around us everyday that are competing for influence, so we have to be aware enough to know what's affecting us. Paul was aware of the deceptiveness of bad influences. In 1 Corinthians 15:33, he wrote, "Don't be deceived, bad company corrupts good character." (CEB) When Paul wrote to not be deceived, he was explaining that bad company will often work deceptively to corrupt our character. So, why is this important today?
The Age of the Influencer
The scripture says that we are not ignorant of Satan's devices. From day one, his greatest trick has been influence. Today, we live in the age of influencers. Social media content creators have even taken on label "influencer" as a job title. So, influence is all around us everyday, and if these are not Godly influences, then they are steering us in the wrong direction. Influencers are usually effective because they appeal to our desires, even through lies, which was the case with Eve.
Another example of this is Balaam. Balaam was a prophet of God, but he was compromised because he could be bribed. The king of Moab insisted that Balaam curse the Israelites, but Balaam could not curse what God had blessed. However, Balaam was able to influence them to curse themselves by preaching lies. This is why we always need to be anchored in truth, so that even when we find ourselves in the flow of lies, we cannot be moved.
At the end of the day, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan's main tactic from day one was influence, so it's no wonder that we are saturated with influences today. The scripture says that if we are a novice, then we can be carried away with every wind of doctrine. In other words, every new teaching that sounds good becomes appealing. "Ye shall not surely die" was the first false doctrine, but every one after has been a variation of the same thing.
God's call for his children is not to be swayed. Our truth is found in the word of God and by the spirit of God. Let's be vigilant. Let's be sober-minded. Let's be aware of the influences in our lives.