I. The message of the Edenic lie.
A. What kind of lie, if believed about God, would break fellowship with
God, cause unbelief in the revealed Word of God, flood man’s soul
with darkness and cause eternal death and separation from God?
1. Scripture indicates that the LIE THAT MURDERED OUR FIRST
PARENTS was sown by Satan, the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). He
was a murderer from the beginning, his weapon was the LIE
perpetrated in Eden (GENESIS 3:1-7).
2. The lie was an attack upon the character of God and upon the
veracity and absolute authority of His holy Word. The premise
and conclusion found in the lie may be expressed in the
following expanded paraphrase:
The lie suggested that to make God’s glory one’s highest goal and
obedience to Him one’s life direction, would be to miss out on one’s
true potential for fulfillment, advancement and freedom. The lie
impugned God’s character – it called into question His goodness
and intentions toward mankind. As the lie suggested, if God’s
glory is not joined to man’s highest good, humans have a rationale
or justification for self-determination.
You may choose what you deem is best for yourself and you may
choose right and wrong for yourself – for God is not absolutely
trustworthy. If you choose this path of self-direction, your world
will not fall apart, you will succeed and you will not face death and
damnation in hell. God’s will expressed in His commandments is
not really in the best interest of your happiness. God’s threats are
exaggerated – actually they are idle threats to keep you under His
B. Satan defamed God’s character before he made his offer to Eve.
1. Satan’s question, “Indeed, has God said . . . ?” casts doubt upon
God’s motives. Satan’s question also divorces the original
prohibition from its context.
2. The context of the prohibition was God’s bounty (Gen 2:16, 17).
By removing it from its context, Satan implies that the
prohibition is unreasonable.
3. Satan depersonalizes God into an uncaring abstraction. (It is
the personal covenant-keeping God who judges sin and
rebellion. Those who know God to be personal, revere Him as a
just God who is serious about the retribution of sin. Satan
denies that sin results in judgment.)[i]
C. Four aspects of Satan’s temptation:
1. Satan promised instant gratification. The satanic philosophy of
blessing views reward as independent of God’s power and
determination. Eve is to grasp “blessing” immediately through
her own power. The satanic mindset is fulfillment through
disobedience to God’s law, rather than the biblical way of
obedience and submission to God and trust in His providence.
2. The promise of “eyes opened” offered an expanded consciousness
that was not limited in knowledge, understanding and
3. Satan promised dominion through going beyond creaturehood
and finitude. The satanic way cancelled out obedience and
submission. The temptation offered metaphysical advancement;
Eve would be equal to God. She would no longer be dependent
upon Him for meaning, ethics and truth. With “divine” self-
sufficiency would come personal sovereignty; Eve would
determine reality for herself.
4. The promise to be like God involved the knowledge of good and
evil. The first couple would be like God in that they would
determine good and evil for themselves (Gen 3:22). Eve followed
Satan’s lead in that she assumed she lived in an impersonal,
non-determined environment. Based upon this assumption, her
method for achieving truth in a reliable fashion was to exercise
II. Upon believing the lie, man ridiculed the truth of God. Man’s
reasoning processes became a function of pride.
A. All human pride is based upon ignorance.
1. Once the lie was believed and acted upon, our first parents
became alienated from the life of God. Their thought processes
were no longer capable of thinking correctly about God and
themselves. The lie obscured the true knowledge of God and
2. Self love replaced love for God, for our first parents no longer
believed that God was trustworthy. They also ceased to believe
that God had their highest good in mind and that He loved them
perfectly. (Upon believing the lie, the life of God in their souls
and the knowledge of God in their minds were extinguished –
darkness replaced the light.) (See Rom. 1:22-25.)
B. The lie feeds man’s pride.
1. Satan’s self-deception regarding his creaturehood and
dependence upon God was in essence “passed on” to the human
race when the lie of Eden was believed.
2. Though the lie is based upon gross ignorance, it fuels man’s
pride because it allows man to live as if he is not a creature
utterly dependent upon God.
The natural man sears his conscience (1 Tim. 4:1-3).
The unbeliever is arrogant (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
The natural man is an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10).
The sinner does not seek or understand God (Rom. 3:11).
Man’s problem is ethical and moral, not intellectual (Jer. 9:6;
3. Man’s ignorant pride is demonstrated in his view of creation:
“It’s not enough to know that cows eat grass. True apprehension
of cows and grass reveals the providential power and care of God
and the task which was given to man to subdue every other
creature to God’s glory (Gen. 1:28). The distance between the
earth and the nearest star is truly to be understood only as its
disclosure of God is recognized, for the multiple light years of
distance is the mere work of God’s fingers ad displays to man his
need for humility before God and thanksgiving for His grace
III. The “Eve theory of knowledge” is now the way that man’s
darkened intellect is used to determine knowledge.
A. The non-Christian’s approach to knowledge.
1. The unbeliever does not want to talk about where he came from.
He avoids the subject of the source of his existence. He is
opposed to God’s moral authority and does not wish to admit
that he is accountable to God.
2. This refusal to retain God in his thoughts directly affects his
approach to knowledge.
3. The unbeliever seeks to answer the question of knowledge
without addressing the question of being. He claims to know
independent of God. (“If the Being of God is what, on the basis
of Scripture testimony, we have found it to be, it follows that
our knowledge will true knowledge only to the extent that it
corresponds to His knowledge.” [iv]
B. By believing the lie, Eve placed herself and God on the same level.
1. Eve sought to gain knowledge while ignoring the question of
being. She erased in her own mind the infinite distance between
Creator and creature – she forgot her creaturehood. (God is the
self-existent great “I am.” All existence is upheld every moment
by His thought and power. Eve was dust and clay, taken from
her husband’s side.
2. The lie functioned as Eve’s method of determining what was true
and false. (The lie became her working epistemology – her
method of determining and knowing truth.)
C. Every unbeliever duplicates Eve’s approach to knowledge.
1. Instead of seeing God’s revelation as His unbreakable,
authoritative Word and as life itself for the creature, Eve
accepted Satan’s prevarication.
2. The structure of Satan’s lying “logic” was as follows: there were
two “beings” with two differing opinions. God had one “opinion,”
the serpent had another. Therefore, it was up to Eve to decide
for herself (she would be an autonomous interpreter). She could
decide who was right. She would be the final court of appeal.
Her mind would be the final authority.
3. Eve assumed equal ultimacy of the mind of God, of her mind,
and the mind of Satan. Her reasoning excluded the exclusive
ultimacy of the mind of God. She denied God’s absoluteness
4. By reasoning and experimentation (by eating the fruit and seeing
its effects and reflecting upon those effects), she would
determine what was “true for her.” (Note what a clear picture
this is of modern man’s approach to moral choices.)
5. By being in control of truth and knowledge, she would be
“number one,” she would be in the driver’s seat. Thus, the lie
was an offer to rise above creaturehood. It offered independence,
it offered autonomy, it offered omniscience, it offered divinity. In
seeking to have the impossible – what belongs to God alone – the
human race lost the glorious blessings they did have. They lost
their life in God and they lost their unity in God.
D. Through original sin, mankind lost unity in God.
1. By man’s apostasy from God, he has cut himself off from the
source of unity. Man’s unity has been ravaged by the
separations caused by sin.
2. There are four major separations that occurred as a result of the
fall. They are as follows:
a.) Theological – man became separated from God.
b.) Psychological – man became separated from or within himself (there is no unity in his thought nor in the components of his soul – conscience, will and intellect are antagonistic in the unbeliever).
c.) Sociological – man became separated from others.
d.) Biological – man became separated from nature (the curse).
3. Only through the redemptive work of Christ will these
separations be ultimately healed. False religion and manmade
philosophies attempt to find lasting solutions to these divisions
but they all ultimately fail and end in destruction because they
do not look to Christ’s Lordship over the universe.
E. The non-Christian’s god is a false god because he is finite like
himself. Like Eve, the non-Christian in his sin wipes out the
distinction between absolute and derivative thought. He makes
God a corroborator with man. Instead of thinking God’s thoughts
after Him, he, together with God, “thinks out thoughts that have
never been thought by God or by man” (as if God is stuck in time).
1. Non-Christian thought interprets reality in terms of an
existence independent of God (e.g. the non-Christian would
insist that there must be succession of moments in the
consciousness of God in order to think of God as appreciative of
the passage of time in the universe. As if God cannot relate to
time without being subject to it. The unbeliever explains God in
his own way).
2. A sinful conception of God is chosen by man in order to blunt
the truth of man’s utter dependence upon Him.
The unbeliever can’t think of a God who is above His creation.
He cannot conceive of a God who is transcendent and not part of
3. By contrast, Christianity interprets reality in terms of the
eternally self-conscious divine personality. Truth and reality
have been eternally joined in the mind of God. By rejecting God’s
authoritative revelation, sinful man tears truth and reality apart
and plunges himself into irrationality.
4. The unbeliever holds to the ultimacy of the created universe and
of the mind of man. He denies the necessity of thinking God’s
thoughts after Him in order to interpret the creation accurately.
In this context, mistakes in the interpretation of God, man and
the creation are thought of as natural and to be expected – not
IV. The lie sown in Eden was an expression of Satan’s own
sentiment toward God.
A. The lie was a version of Satan’s own deception.
1. He had tried to sin his way to independence, he had tried to
outgrow his creaturehood by rebellion against God. But the
result was that he corrupted himself, degraded himself and
deceived himself. He cut himself off from the love, light and life
2. He and his kingdom are now careening (like an accelerating
avalanche or meteor) toward eternal shame, destruction, ruin
and torment. (Jesus warned that those who remained in the
kingdom of darkness would share its founder’s fate, Matt 25:41).
B. Satan’s lie offered independence, but delivered death and bondage
1. In the garden, Adam was denied the fruit of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil to test his obedience and prove that
he was willingly under God’s command.
2. The serpent contradicted God (“you shall surely not die”) and the
Creator-creature distinction (“you will be like God”).
3. When Adam ate the fruit, his sin was rebellion against
recognizing his dependence upon God. In reality, Adam was no
less dependent, but simply refused to acknowledge his
dependence. – “thinking themselves to be wise, they became
fools” (Romans 1:22; Proverbs 28:26; Ephesians 4:17,18).
4. Through this act, Adam’s sinful condition passed upon all men
(Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22). The human race is
under the influence of Satan (Ephesians 2:2). Judgment day will
expose the great lie; sin did not create a new reality nor did it
produce human independence from God.
V. The lie our first parents believed is now reproduced in the minds
of all of their unbelieving offspring.
Note the passages that teach the present universality of the lie – John
8:32-36; Rom. 1:21; 3:10-18; 2 Cor. 4:3,4; Eph. 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:25-
26. (The lie is the darkness spoken of in the Scriptures.)
A. The lie drives the present world system with its philosophies of
human autonomy and rebellion – Col. 2:8; 1 John 2:15-17; 5:19.
(The lie provides the “justification” for loving the world and for
living a self-directed life.)
B. The lie sits enthroned in the sinner’s reasoning processes. The lie
drives the present reign of sin – Romans 5:12, 17, 21. The present
satanic world view bears a close resemblance to the lie sown in
· The Word of God is vague and untrustworthy.
· Man can only achieve truth by forsaking the Word of God and pursuing truth autonomously.
· Freedom and blessing come through casting off God’s law-word.
· The path to power is not by submission to God but by determining right and wrong for oneself.
· Man’s problem is not ethical, but metaphysical. The solution is to become like God and shed one’s finitude.
· Man deserves godhood, blessings, power, enlightenment and salvation by right, not by grace.
· Sin and rebellion against God will be without consequences in history and the hereafter.[vii]
C. To repent is to acknowledge that we have been of the lie.
1. Repentance involves intellectual submission to the Word of God
– it is a turning away from self as the authority for our moral
2. Those who die without repenting of the lie shall die in their sins
and be eternally condemned (Mark 16:16; John 8:24). (God will
forever hang error on the gallows. The lie and those who
stubbornly remain subscribers of it will be an eternal object
lesson to the universe.)
VI. No one is delivered from the lie except by the power of the
A. Jesus explained that He was the truth and the life (John 14:6).
Christ is the truth of God incarnate (John 1:1-3).
In Christ, all that was lost in Adam (the knowledge of God, the life
of God, the light of God and the love of God) may be recovered and
more. (Note that the justified believer has a higher status than
B. Consider the majesty and scope of God’s plan. By His sovereign
grace and power He will take the redeemed from dust to glory and
fashion them into a bride for His Son. In Christ, believers go from
death-bound slaves to free men (John 8:31-36).
C. The power of the gospel is necessary to restore man’s ability to
understand God (John 1:5,14,18).
1. When we see God in our nature, bleeding and dying in our place
that we may be forgiven and go free, we respond with
amazement at such infinite love and compassion.
2. The true knowledge of God comes ONLY through the Person of
Christ and His work on the cross (2 Cor. 4:6). The glorious
gospel of Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection has the
power to dispel the ancient lie.
3. In Christ, God’s glory and man’s highest good are rejoined again
in man’s thinking – one believing look at Christ and a person’s
mind is renewed and he is saved for all eternity. (The enslaving
lie that attacks the character of God and the Word of God is
removed by faith in Christ.)
VII. The Christian view of knowledge.
A. The Bible has to be taken to be the final standard of truth. No
areas of known reality exist that may be compared to the Bible.
1. God is ultimate being and hence ultimate absolute authority. He is the final court of appeal. All we know is rooted in God’s objective truth. Because God knows about His creation, we can know about creation.
2. The question, “How do we know?” – knowledge – is based on “What do we know?” – being. The Christian’s true knowledge is only such as it is based on God’s knowledge. “In Thy light, we see light” (Psalm 36:9). “In Him (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
B. Knowledge with correct interpretation is truth. Things “known”
without God constitute “false knowledge,” – facts without
(e.g. Life flourishes on earth because of the abundance of water.
The unbeliever takes this for granted – even though water is a
precious and rare commodity in the universe. In seeking a
naturalistic explanation, the natural man postulates that myriads
of snowballs (comets) slammed into a cooling planet to make our
oceans. Like the tortoise upon which Atlas supposedly stood, the
unbeliever is always left with a fanciful solution to support his
invention. The non-Christian has a “false knowledge” of the blue
planet, see Genesis 1:1-10; 2 Peter 3:5.)
C. One cannot separate truth from God. To try to separate truth from
God is an attempt to make God dependent upon an external body of
truth existing by itself, outside of God (this would be pantheism –
God existing as one of the parts of the whole universe).
1. The Bible affirms that God’s knowledge of the world is based
upon His knowledge of Himself (Psalm 139). God knows Himself,
THEN He makes a dependent universe. (e.g. a man who writes
an autobiography constructs a piece of literature based upon
2. Our knowledge is cumulative, finite and fallible. God’s
knowledge is of a completely different kind. His knowledge is
determinative – that is, His knowledge determines what shall be
and what is real. By God’s knowledge, we move, exist, reason,
work, plan and play. God has planted every human faculty and
body part that allows us to function.
D. Man can only know and interpret aright when he does so by God’s
revelation. Only in regeneration (the new birth), when man sees
himself as God’s creature does he once again receptively reconstruct
knowledge given him by God.
E. Non-regenerate consciousness cannot know God, creation or self
apart from God’s interpretation.
1. In the anthropocentric world of the unbeliever, man develops his
own sense-perceived-truth in an “a posteriori” manner (inductive
truth – reasoning from particulars to the general or universal. It
is futility because unbeliever because he is committed to an
erroneous world view.)
2. By contrast, Christian epistemology is ultimate rationalism and
sets forth incomprehensible knowledge about man from God.
Non-Christian epistemology is ultimate irrationalism and sets forth
comprehensive knowledge about man and God from man.
3. Only by God’s common grace does man have a residual or
“shadow unity.” Without these remnants of unity, man would fall
into complete disintegration in his world. The sobering warning
from God in Scripture is that when man’s faculties are used to
serve sin, the consequence is disintegration of the image of God.
Complete disintegration follows in hell (Romans 2:1-11).
4. The Christian must recognize the seriousness of the non-
Christian’s dilemma. The unbeliever’s darkness places him in a
situation of total inability. His consciousness will not allow him
to accept the Christian position. Man is NEVER epistemologically
neutral. He either loves God or hates God. He is for Him or
[ii] Ibid., p. 8.
[iii] Richard L. Pratt, Every Thought Captive, Phillipsburg, P&R Publishing, 1979), pp. 14, 15.
[iv] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1955), p. 33.
[v] Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic, (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1998), p. 152.
[vi] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, pp. 47, 48.
[vii] Brian Schwertley, p. 10.
[viii] Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, p. 39.