Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Precept of Eve vs The Subtle Serpent

Written June 5th 2016

We are warned throughout scripture to beware of the precepts of men.

“Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!” (2 Nephi 28:26)
What is a precept? The 1829 Webster dictionary, the language used in the time of the translation of the Book of Mormon, defines precepts as: 

“In a general sense, any commandment or order intended as an authoritative rule of action; but applied particularly to commands respecting moral conduct.“
Google defines a precept as “a general rule intended to regulate behavior or thought.” The precepts of men are the rules, regulations, beliefs, and policies enforced from an incorrect understanding and a lack of direct revelation from God. Those who abide by the precepts of men rely on their own wisdom, learning, and council while denying the power of God because they do not harken to the word of God and the Holy Ghost. (2nd Nephi 28:4-6) Hearkening unto the precepts of men always leads to sorrow, anger, and distrust in God. Allow me illustrate an example of why the Devil LOVES the precepts of men and how he uses them to turn us against God.

In the Book of Genesis chapter 2 or Moses chapter 3, the Lord God had already created man, but not yet woman. He places Adam in the Garden, then states in verse 16-17:

And I, the Lord God, commanded the man, saying: “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Moses 3:16–17, Genesis 2:16-17)

This was God exact word and commandment to Adam. Nothing more, nothing less. Keep this in mind as we proceed to an account of the encounter between Eve and the serpent Satan.

“And now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which I, the Lord God, had made. And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world. And he said unto the woman: Yea, hath God said—Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? (And he spake by the mouth of the serpent.) “ (Moses 4:5-7, Genesis 3:1-2)

Notice the very first tactic used by Satan to lead Eve away from Christ. In the garden the Lord God made EVERY tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. (Genesis 2:9) Think about the diet of Adam and Eve - they did not hunt, nor did they farm nor need to slaughter livestock. Now think about the vast variety of fruits in the world God made available to them in the garden. They were truly blessed. Yet Satan’s tactic was to direct Eve’s attention from the bounteous myriad of fruit to the single one forbidden.
Continuing with the dialog:

“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 thou beholdest in the midst of the garden, God hath said—Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Moses 4:8–9, Genesis 3:2-3)

So Eve tells Satan that God said, “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye TOUCH IT, lest ye die.” However, if you go back to the recorded account of what God told Adam directly in Genesis 2:16-17, before Eve was made from Adam’s rib, you will see that God said nothing about touching the fruit. Why did Eve believe that touching the fruit would cause death? Because it was her precept. She had not received that original commandment personally from God because she was not yet in the garden at the time it was given. She must have received knowledge of that commandment through Adam. I can imagine Adam walking with Eve through the garden one morning while coming across the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam could have said, “You see that tree? God told us not eat of that fruit lest we die. We better not ever touch it!!” You see how easily Eve could have misunderstood what God had really said if she did not receive it directly from God?

God’s commandments can become like a game of “telephone” if we do not seek from him directly. Communicated knowledge, knowledge passed from man to man, is easily distorted and misunderstood. Like Eve, when we receive knowledge by this means it is far too easy to declare “more or less” than what was originally given by God. (3rd Nephi 11:40, D&C10:67-68) It is far too easy to attach or replace our precepts to God’s word. 
On the other hand, revealed knowledge, knowledge given to us directly from God, is unmistakable. It is unshakable. It is pure truth. Direct revelation from God is the rock upon which Christ will build His church in which the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mathew 16:17-19, 3rd Nephi 11:39, 3rd Nephi 18:12)
Eve must not have sought for herself directly from God the commandment concerning the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and instead relied on her husband’s word. This is why Satan attacked Eve, because she was already misled by a false precept.
Satan then replies to Eve’s answer:

“Ye shall not surely die;” (Moses 4:10, Genesis 3:4)

Read the Serpent’s reply very carefully. He technically did not flat out lie to Eve. Eve’s statement included dying if she touched the fruit. God never said anything about touching the fruit and dying as a result, therefore Eve could touch the fruit and not surely die. Although twisted, Satan was telling the truth. Because of Eve’s misunderstanding, or in other words unbelief, or in other words “precept” Satan was easily able to manipulate Eve into partaking and ultimately doubting her Lord. I can imagine the moment Eve held the fruit in her hand and realizing that she is still alive and not dead for touching it- doubt and distrust in her creator would have filled her. Beliefs formed by the precepts of men will cause us to turn from our Lord. They will cause us to doubt, distrust, and even hate God.
Satan then says,

“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.” (Moses 4:11, Genesis 3:5)

Again Satan is telling the truth. But now he is perverting the character of God in Eve’s eyes when he says, “For God doth know…” He is making it sound as if God has lied to her and God is holding back from her in order to hinder her progression. I think of how Anakin Skywalker felt toward Obi-Wan in Star Wars when he doubted his master, believing that Obi-Wan was jealous and holding him back. Likewise, Satan used the “dark side” to manipulate Eve into distrusting her Master.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it became pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make her wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and also gave unto her husband with her, and he did eat.” (Moses 4:12, Genesis 3:6)

Eve was attracted to beneficial traits of the tree. She saw it was good, it was pleasant, and it would make her wise. She was drawn to the good side of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. She was drawn to what she perceived to be right. However, what she perceived, and what you and I may perceive to be right may not actually be right according to God’s perspective.

"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." (Proverbs 14:12)

Mainstream Christians are not drawn to the blatantly evil and vile of the world. They aren’t attracted to hard drugs, satanic concerts, or murder. Satan does not need to appear to you as a demonic being possessing magical powers in order to convince you to follow him. He is not so blatantly obvious. Don’t think because you are a good, church going Christian, you are oblivious to his tactics. He uses deception to seduce even the elect. (Mark13:22)

“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” (Moses 4:4)

When you are deceived, you think you are doing the right thing, when in reality you are doing exactly contrary to God’s will. What you may think is good may very well be evil. What you may think may be offensive to God may be of very little importance to Him, while some of the things you may think have a little or no significance may be considered heresy in heaven. Do not use your measuring stick of righteousness to judge what is good or what is evil. Do not hearken to the precepts of men when determining what is good. Instead seek to obtain for yourself and hearken to the voice of Lord and His word.
The devil would have us believe and perceive reality in shades of grey - that there is no absolute good or evil. This is false. The world we live in is completely black and white, light and dark, good and evil. There is no in between. Satan desires to blind you. Christ desires to give you sight. Although you may currently be ignorant, the battle between the forces of good and evil are all around us. I will leave this post with this warning given by Moroni and pray that the Holy Ghost may breathe life into the scriptures and give you sight to it’s true message as you ponder them:

“For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also. For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness. For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God. And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such. Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually. But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil. For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.
For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.
(Moroni 7:5–19)

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