The temptation of Eve by Satan in the Garden of Eden is virtually the same temptation suggested by Satan to Christ in the Judean wilderness. Eve had all the human resources she could possible desire.
A husband who was thrilled with her, a mature mind and healthy body, a peaceful and nurturing environment, the prospect of immortality, a Creator God who took time for a daily visit with his new human species – these were but a few of the gifts of nature and grace that God had bestowed on his new man and new woman. Yet Eve, and Adam along with her, fell for the serpent’s ploys and, ignoring her already numerous benefits, succumbed to the devil’s provocative words:
“You shall be like God deciding what is good and what is evil.” Adam and Eve were not content to accept the noble human nature God had provided for them. They chose not to accept their divinely endowed humanity with all its blessings but reached instead beyond their rightful limitations in the hope of becoming like God, determining for themselves what was good and what was evil, what was beneficial and what was detrimental. Adam and Eve wanted to play God deciding what was right and what was wrong,
Jesus Christ, about to enter his public life, was faced with the same temptations by the diabolical Satan. Just as God had provided amply for our first parents in the Garden of Eden so now Jesus, the very Son of God, was faced with the prospect of whether God would provide for him in the Judean wilderness. Would God as a good Father provide bread or should Jesus take matters into his own hands and turn stones into bread as Satan suggests? Jesus refuses to play God and trusts in his Father’s benevolence. Would Jesus be successful in his attempt to win over the nations according to God’s designs or should Jesus bow down before Satan and have all the nations delivered over to him immediately and painlessly? Again Jesus does not second-guess God. He resists the devil and trusts in God’s fatherly plan. Would God really back up Jesus in his work of redemption or was God all bombast and bravado failing Christ in time of need? Again Jesus does not tempt God but remains resolute his confidence in God’s divine providence.
Adam and Eve overstepped what they thought were limitations – if one can call integrity, immortality, impassibility, and infused knowledge limitations. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, gladly and knowingly accepted his limitations. Jesus was sent into this world not to do his own will but to do the will of the one who sent him. Jesus knew that following God’s plan would never be a limitation but rather is a liberation. By faithfully following God’s providence, Jesus, with his human mentality, would discover who he truly was, what his earthly purpose truly was, and what his eternal destiny would truly be. Adam and Eve’s attempt to play God led to their death. Jesus Christ’s refusal to usurp God’s place in history led to life, resurrected life for him and eternal life for believers.
Neither Adam nor Eve nor Jesus Christ is alone in their temptations to play God, to second-guess God, even to correct God. Contemporary American society, having abandoned God in its public life, must now assume the place of God and, like Eve, must decide “what is good and what is evil.” No longer guided by the natural law that God has placed in the hearts of even sinful mankind, the American nation determines right and wrong, good and evil, morality and immorality, on the basis of personal preference. Rules have yielded to rights, as a letter writer in the Providence Journal recently observed. No longer do Americans trust that God will provide if his plan is followed, that God’s purposes will be accomplished if his design is dominant, or that reliance on God is the nation’s greatest strength. And it is not only crazed gunmen who play God by slaying their fellow citizens. The even more egregious sin of abortion directly contradicts the plan of God who is the very author of life. Physician-assisted suicide and nursing measures that hasten death clearly usurp God’s will. Radical proposals to alter marriage, family life, sexual roles, and gender are certainly in defiance of God’s will. Attempts to privatize religion are an obvious challenge to God whose very nature is to be revelatory and demonstrative. Even believers fall short of God’s expressed will when they pick and choose the church rites and regulations they will observe. Playing God, like Eve, was mankind’s original sin. Bowing before God, like Christ, is mankind’s greatest and only hope.