No Power in Misquoted Scripture

Mosaic of Adam and Eve. Orthodox church in Kirowograd, Ukraine. (Petrik / Adobe Stock)
Chris Genetti is pastor at Living Waters Tabernacle of Exeter.

Do you recall the Creation Story from Genesis? You may also recall the first sin that has plagued mankind ever since. Praise be to Jesus that we have a way to be reunited with God and that the perfect sacrifice has already been paid on our behalf. However sin continues to be the wedge between God and His people. Jesus provides the best example of how to triumph over sin and temptation. Matthew 4:4 records Jesus rebuking the devil saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” One may attest, that along with faith and prayer, our greatest power to defeat sin is derived from the scriptures. However if scripture is misquoted, is there any actual power behind the words? Unfortunately, the greatest deficiency among the faithful today is that we are sadly illiterate in regards to scripture. In fact, mankind has been misquoting scripture since the first temptation in the Garden.

Were you aware that it was Eve, not Adam, that initially attempted to use scripture to defend against Satan’s temptation. In Genesis 3, the serpent tries to convince Eve that God was withholding knowledge from her and her husband. The serpent duped Eve into coveting the forbidden fruit. Eve first tried to repel Satan’s attack by quoting God’s instructions not to touch or eat of the fruit. She defiantly told Satan, “Of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die,’” (Genesis 3:3). To which the serpent replied, “You will not surely die.” Satan, as he does, exploited Eve’s weakness and indeed caused her to falter. What was Eve’s weakness? Eve, just like so many contemporary believers, misquoted God’s instruction. Eve inevitably rendered God’s Word powerless. If we examine Genesis 2 we find God’s exact words to Adam. God instructed Adam to keep and tend to the garden. The Lord shared that every fruit in the garden was for his pleasure and sustenance. However the Lord commanded, “Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die,” (Genesis 2:17).

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The devil is in the details?” Notice in the scripture God said nothing regarding touching the fruit. This may seem insignificant to most, but with good intention, Eve attempted to repel Satan’s temptation with the Word of God. However God did not forbid the touching of the tree or its fruit, He commanded Adam not to ingest the fruit. We often misquote scripture or even try to reinterpret the meaning of scripture in order to justify our sinful desires. Eve originally intended on keeping God’s command. I can imagine Satan using Eve’s misquote against her. He likely encouraged her to first touch the fruit. When she did, I imagine she wondered why there were not any immediate consequences. She then was emboldened to hold the fruit in her hand and eventually take the forbidden bite.

Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit.” Christians believe that scripture indeed is a source of encouragement and power to the believer. Paul writes in 2 Timothy encouraging words to his young brother teaching that scripture is, “Profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” (vs. 16-17). Most sincerely, brothers and sisters, it is imperative for us as believers to know the Lord’s scripture exactly. We are told in the last days the Church will deny God’s power. Is it possible that the current biblical illiteracy today is a fulfillment of that prophecy? Remember what the psalmist praised God for. He rejoiced, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Do not deny God’s power! Delight yourself in the sharing and reading of our Bible. I encourage every reader to join a Bible-based Church, attend Bible studies, and grow spiritually with the aid of scripture.

Prays Together is a rotating faith-based commentary and advice column among the pastors, and guest laypeople, of area churches.

This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.

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