Today, we’re continuing our study of Genesis by looking at the story of the very first woman to bear God’s image: Eve. As we read and learn from Eve’s temptation in Genesis 3, we’ll be asking the next question Scripture gives us in our image bearing narrative:
What happens when we fail to look upward at God and outward toward others? When we only look inward, and forget our image bearing purpose?
You see, it’s no secret that today’s culture wants us women staring in a mirror all day long. I mean, literally, we have mirrors everywhere so we can examine and fix our hair, look at whether or not our shirt flatters our figure, mirrors to magnify our eyebrows and see every last stray hair to pluck… but this concept applies figuratively as well.
Now, having a healthy view of self as a Christian woman is without a doubt, important. It’s why we’ve been studying what it means for Christian women to bear the image of God.
You can find the other two here:
- God’s Image Bearers: Discovering our value and worth as women
- Women Bearing God’s Image: Discovering your purpose
But today, we’re going to learn from Eve herself about what can happen when our gaze only remains inward towards ourselves, forgetting to look above and around us. And then, how we can keep our eyes focused on God and the goodness He’s given us, staying true to our image bearing purpose.
Download the What Women can Learn from Eve’s Temptation in Genesis Bible Study Guide so you can answer the questions during your quiet time with God.
Genesis 3 – the infamous story of what history has titled “The Fall”.
Eve’s temptation in Genesis has been caricatured, misunderstood, and misapplied for as long as people have sought to understand their origins. What tends to be missed is that this first story of the first woman to bear God’s image is not a stand-alone event.
Eve’s temptation begins with a serpent approaching her, and casting seeds of doubt in her mind. In Genesis 3:1, the serpent asks Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
Eve answers truthfully to the serpent that yes, God did command that they can eat of all the trees in the Garden except the tree in the middle – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Because if they eat of the tree, they will die.
The serpent continues his tempting and targets Eve’s heart with some very particular language. The serpent tells Eve in Genesis 3:5, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Now, every part of this verse has been studied and studied throughout history, but for our purposes today, I want us to only pay attention to one part of Eve’s temptation in Genesis: “…and you will be like God.”
Devotion Question - Eve's temptation
The serpent tempts Eve by telling her she can be like God.
- In your own life how are you tempted to be your own god, instead of relying on the Creator God who knows and sustains you?
If you didn’t download the accompanying Bible study guide, get here: What Women can Learn from Eve’s Temptation in Genesis
Temptation of Self
Genesis 3:1 tells us that “the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made,” and this holds true in his temptation of Eve in Genesis.
You see, the serpent chooses his language here very carefully; he tells Eve that if she eats the fruit off this forbidden tree, she will be like God.
If you remember back to our first week studying the importance of understanding our place as image bearers, you’ll remember that Genesis 1:26 tells us God made humanity in His image, in His likeness.
And now, the serpent tempts the first woman who bears God’s likeness with the idea that she can “be like God.”
This is no accident.
The serpent is hitting much too close to home here.
To be made in God’s likeness was not enough.
So, what exactly is the serpent tempting Eve with?
The temptation of self.
If you want to read more on what the Bible has to say about temptation, here’s a guide for overcoming temptation.
Let’s continue on to see how Eve responds to her temptation in Genesis.
Devotion Question - Temptation of "self"
- What part of your life are you tempted to rely on yourself for, instead of relying on God?
The temptation of self can often manifest itself in our worries and fears. Reflect on areas of your life that have been a source of worry for you, and then take some time to give those over to God, trusting that He will provide and sustain you.
Tarnished Image Bearer
After the serpent feeds Eve her temptation of self, Eve’s gaze turns inward.
Genesis 3:6 tells us, “…when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”
And what does Eve see when she looks inside herself?
She sees deficiency.
The first woman to bear God’s image is dissatisfied with her level of likeness to God, and desires more.
She desires to be like God in her knowledge, in her level of wisdom.
And so she eats the fruit.
Eve gives in to the temptation of self, and in her looking inward, forgets to look upward and outward.
Eve forgets that she’s already been made God’s image bearer, in God’s very own likeness.
She forgets that she’s been crowned with glory and honor as a woman bearing God’s image. She forgets about the goodness of creation that God’s given to her.
Eve only sees inside herself, and because of this, the temptation to forget the image of God will now lead to the consequence of a tarnished image of God.
Devotion Question - Tarnished image bearer
- When you look inside yourself, do you see all you lack or do you see the beauty that God has created in you?
- When you see your deficiencies and your sin, do you tend to lay those at Jesus’ feet or rely on your own understanding to overcome them?
Take some time to thank God for placing His image in you, and ask that He would help you see yourself as He sees you – forgiven and redeemed.
Tarnished View of Self
Genesis 3 goes on to tell us the consequences of this moment. After both Adam and Eve eat the fruit, Genesis 3:7 reveals, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they know that they were naked.”
Now, their gaze will be on their tarnished image.
In Genesis 3:9, God calls out to His image bearers. And this is how Adam responds in Genesis 3:10, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Now when Adam and Eve see themselves, they no longer see the goodness God created in them and around them. They see something that gives them fear, gives them shame.
So they hide their now tarnished image – hidden from God, hidden from the good creation. I like how Barbara Westberg puts it, “Self squeezed between God and His creation distorting Adam’s and Eve’s vision.”
With this, let’s take a moment to ask ourselves what we can learn from Eve’s temptation here in the Bible, and how it relates to us women today.
Devotion Question - Tarnished view of self
- What parts of yourself have you tried to keep in hiding?
- From your family, your friends, church community, or even from God?
Take some time to acknowledge the truth that not only does God know you fully and love you still, but that He seeks you out as you are. Allow yourself to rest in the truth of His love for you.
Image Bearers Today
We know from last week’s study that our image bearing purpose to look upward and outward was emphasized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39, when he declares, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Look upward towards God, love God first, and then, look outward towards your neighbor.
What about that last little part though? Jesus says “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
As yourself… doesn’t that require looking inward? Yes, it does.
Here’s the pivotal understanding Jesus had, a glimpse into our tarnished image – we already love ourselves.
Think of all the time you spend looking in a mirror, like I talked about at the beginning. Maybe it’s a literal mirror, maybe a figurative one, but most likely, it’s a combination of both.
From putting on our makeup, to examining our outfit choice, to researching how we can “boost our confidence” or reading up on best practices for self-care.
I’m not saying any of these things are bad in-and-of themselves, but I do want you to think of all the time, all the heart, all the energy you spend on these things.
What Jesus is saying here in Matthew, is that same amount of time, heart, and energy should be matched in your love for others – in your looking outward.
What we can learn from Eve’s temptation in the Bible is this: We must, must keep our eyes focused on God and the goodness He’s given us.
Don’t hear me saying that it’s a sin to look inward, to examine ourselves. It’s not a sin to look in a mirror, or to research taking care of ourselves.
We’re all about healthy living and having a healthy view of ourselves as Christian women!
But in all of this, we must keep our eyes focused on our Creator.
Learning from Eve by Practicing Gratitude
I’m sure you’re saying, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before.”
Maybe you’ve even tried it out, and didn’t stick with it. I’d encourage you, give it another go.
At the end of your day, sit down with pen and paper, and write out 3 things you’re grateful God gave you that day.
It could be as simple as a hot cup of coffee in the morning, or a warm shower to wake you up. God’s goodness around us is as much in the little things as it is in the big. Nothing is too small for it to be a good gift from God.
And as you do this, as you look upward – thanking God – by looking outward at His good gifts, I promise, your inward gaze will forever be changed.
Until next week, let’s remember this Scripture together from Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”